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  Graziani Claims Third Spot At The Hephner  
  by Al Miller, Wrestling Reporter   January 28, 2016 Edition  
     The Boardman High School wrestling team competed in the 23rd Annual Josh Hephner Memorial Tournament at Fitch High School last weekend. The Hephner is an endurance test that prepares wrestlers for the post season. The first part of the tournament is a pool tournament with four pools. 28 teams competed. The top two wrestlers in each pool then go into a bracket tournament to determine placing.
      Boardman finished 11th with four placers in a field of 28 teams.
      “Not too bad. Everybody won at least a match and everybody was trying to score points, even the guys that didn’t make it into the bracket tournaments and that helped. Anytime we finish in the top half at that tournament, it is a good showing,” said Boardman Head Mat Coach Dom Mancini.
      Leading the Spartans in his first competition of the season was Mario Graziani in the 160# weight class. Graziani, coming back from a foot injury suffered in the last game of the football season, was in a pool of seven competitors and wrestled five matches on Friday, his first day back. He went 4-1, losing to the second seed Jake Sawyer of North Royalton in the last match of the day.
      In the first round of the brackets, Graziani defeated state ranked (13th) David Heath of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, 4-3. In the next round Graziani jumped-out 2-0 on Braxton Freeman of Massillon Jackson. In the second period Graziani took down and got caught on an escape move and pinned. In the consolation final he avenged his earlier loss to Jake Sawyer with a 4-2 victory to place third.
      “Mario definitely battled. There is definitely a little rust there as far as technique goes and also with conditioning. He hasn’t really wrestled in almost a year. It’s not a bad showing for his first tournament back,” Mancini said.
      Boardman’s Jimmy Sferra in the pool tournament was 5-0 with three decisions, a major and a pin in the 138# weight class to advance to the brackets.
      In the first round of brackets Sferra pinned Gavin Chew of Mogadore. In the next round he lost a 7-3 decision to state ranked (2nd) Brett Bailey of Southeast, the eventual champion. In the consolation final, Sferra lost a 3-1 decision to state ranked (8th) Seth Whitehead of Massillon Jackson to place fourth.
      “Jimmy wrestled a great tournament. Tough weight class. A lot of hard fought wins. He’s a battler and he showed that this weekend,” Mancini said.
      Spartan Tyler Dempsey in the toughest weight class in the tournament was 5-0 in the pool tournament with three pins, a tech fall and a decision over state ranked (14th) Zach Defraine of Medina.
      In the first round of brackets Dempsey won an 8-6 decision over state ranked (20th) Isaiah Jackson of Fitch. In the next round he lost an 8-4 decision to state ranked (2nd) Victor Marcelli of Massillon Jackson. In the consolation final Dempsey was pinned by Zach Defraine of Jackson to place fourth.
      “Tyler Dempsey is one tough wrestler and he just keeps getting better and better. He can compete with anybody in the state. He has already proved that. It is just going to be a matter of how much he accelerates his improvement between now and the state tournament as far as how good he’ll end up,” Mancini said.
      Boardman’s Nick Patoray was 3-1 in the pool tournament in the 195# weight class with two decisions and a pin to advance to the brackets.
      In the first round, Patoray lost a 6-1 decision to Paul Skye of Mogadore. In the second round Patoray pinned Brad Powloski of Southeast. In the fifth place match, Patoray lost a 7-6 decision to Heath Snyder of Loudonville. He scored a late takedown with a headlock but couldn’t get him turned for the back points and placed sixth.
      Other Boardman wrestlers that competed were: Danny Sabelli (1-3 at 113#), Derek Slipkovich (3-2 at 120#), Jimmy Vaughn (1-4 at 126#), John Fleet (3-3 at 145#), Kelley Williams (2-3 at 152#), Cannon ‘Tex’ Carlile (3-2 at 182#), Nick Caraballo (1-3 at 220#) and Wes Thompson (2-2 at 285#).
      The Spartans compete next in the Division 1 Regional team tournament at Fitch.
      PICTURED: photo/Al Miller
       TAKING TO THE MAT FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS SEASON, Boardman’s Mario Graziani, on top, uses a half nelson to turn Sam Parri of Akron Hoban at last week’s Hephner tournament. Graziani won the match by a pin. Graziani was out of action due to an ankle injury he suffered during the football season
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