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Crawford captures state title

March 17, 2017
By JOE SIMON , Special to the Town Crier

COLUMBUS - When David Crawford says he hits a move 100 times a day, he's only half joking.

The Canfield junior practices for roughly two hours a day, then stays after and works extra to perfect his skills. That additional preparation came through at the perfect time.

Crawford secured a front headlock and then stayed with a scrambling Dimitri Williams to win, 3-1, in overtime of their Division II 170-pound state championship match Saturday at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

Article Photos

Photo by Cindy DeRose / Town Crier
Canfield High School had six wrestlers qualify for the Ohio High School Athletic Association wrestling state tournament March 9-11 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at The Ohio State University in Columbus. Pictured with the corporate sponsors banner are Anthony D’Alesio, All-State Mason Giordano, Dominic Cooper, Georgio Poullas, David Crawford and Tyler Stein. At the tournament, Crawford won the 170-pound title, and Giordano and Poullas took second place in their weight categories. Stein was put bout in the third match, and D’Alesio placed fourth and Cooper placed fifth.

"Front headlock," said Crawford of the move he used to beat Williams. "I hit it every day, 100 times a day. It's my bread and butter."

Crawford was the only wrestler of Canfield's finalist trio to win. Senior Georgio Poullas suffered his first defeat of the season, a 6-4 overtime loss to Ryan Thomas of St. Paris Graham in a 160-pound championship match. Fellow senior Mason Giordano lost, 1-0, to Ian Sharp of West Branch in the 285-pound final.

The close losses didn't overshadow Crawford's victory - and a second straight runner-up team trophy for the Cardinals.

"As a team, I'm proud of all of our kids," Canfield coach Dean Conley said. "There are six kids here representing our school, but there's 35 on our team, and every one of them was in the room for the past year getting these guys here. We train in those (front headlock) situations all the time.

"David's a special kid. He happened to win the state championship, and I'm so proud of him and his family, but I can't talk about David without talking about Georgio and Mason."

Crawford became the Cardinals' second champion in the past two years after Poullas won a title last season. He became Canfield's seventh champ overall, and his title may have come with the most drama.

The match was tied at 1 late in the third period when Crawford narrowly fended off a takedown attempt from Williams, who was 34-0 entering the match. The bout went into overtime a few moments later, and Williams attempted another double-leg takedown, but Crawford, now a three-time state placer, was ready for it.

"I wasn't getting to my stuff as I should have been," said Crawford of not using enough offense. "I should have been attacking way more in the regular time. He took a bad shot (in overtime), and I took advantage of it and scored."

Williams nearly escaped from Crawford's takedown, using a somersault-like counter, but Crawford stayed with him to secure the win.

Poullas' loss came in a similar fashion to Crawford's victory.

Poullas, now 42-1, took a quick 2-0 lead with a takedown in the first 10 seconds, but Thomas escaped, making it 2-1, and Poullas didn't register another takedown the rest of the match. Poullas went up 3-1 with an escape in the second period, but Thomas secured a takedown to tie the match at 3. Poullas escaped to lead, 4-3, but Thomas chose down in the third period and escaped to again tie the match. In overtime, Thomas, 43-3, shot a double-leg and finished it near the edge of the match for the victory.

"He's a tough opponent, and I knew it was going to be a tough match," Poullas said. "I wrestled, I tried to win, and things just didn't go my way. The best thing I can take from this is use it as motivation to push me. When I'm in the room working, I'm going to remember this - this is what's going to push me."

The Cleveland State University recruit ends his career as Canfield's most decorated wrestler - placing sixth as both a freshman and sophomore before winning a title at 152 pounds as a junior. He finished with a 176-15 record - a school record for career wins.

"Georgio is the best wrestler in the history of our program, based on his credentials and what he's done," said Conley, which shows a lot of praise toward Poullas considering former Canfield wrestler Oscar Santiago was a state champion, a runner-up and placed third. "He won Ironman, a four-time state placer. And please understand what that means. In 50 years of wrestling, some incredible kids have come through this program."

Giordano is one of the more fascinating kids to come through. He only started wrestling midway through his sophomore season but quickly accelerated to an elite level. His opponent, Sharp, was his drill partner during offseason training, and Sharp held a 60-pound weight advantage on the 225-pound Giordano. He also had beaten Giordano three previous times this season. That didn't cause Giordano to back down.

Several times he was close to taking Sharp to the mat, but the leverage of Sharp, who also held a distinct height advantage, didn't allow for a takedown. Sharp chose down in the second period and escaped for the only point of the match.

"He's our heavyweight and he trains as hard as anyone in the practice room," Conley said of Giordano. "And that's contagious. That's why we've seen success because guys are constantly trying to push each other. It's a heck of thing to watch and be a part of, but you can't help but have success with the types of kids we have. I'm not bragging, I'm just proud of them."

Canfield's second-place finish tied a school record set last year. Their six state qualifiers and five state placer also tied records from last year. Aside from the finalists, freshman Anthony D'Alesio placed fourth at 152, and junior Dominic Cooper was fifth at 182 pounds.

The Cardinals have quickly become one of the state's elite programs, with several wrestlers with legitimate chances of experiencing the same feeling Crawford did on Saturday. His answer when asked if the feeling of winning a title was all he expected it to be should provide them even more motivation.

"Even more," he said.



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