Wrestling team wins fourth consecutive conference title, sends 10 to state tournament

by Dan Holland

The Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School wrestling team, under longtime head coach Todd Haverdill, not only managed to win its fourth-straight Suburban Leage conference title this year, but also sent 10 qualifiers to the state tournament held March 8-10 at Ohio State University’s Jerome Schottenstein Center.

The Bees, who finished fifth in the state overall as a team, had seven wrestlers place in the top seven at the state tournament, including sophomore Anna Madi, who repeated as state runner-up in the 120-pound weight class.

Girls’ high school wrestling was officially sanctioned by the OHSAA during the 2022-23 school year. Madi was one of two female wrestlers on the team this season. After losing to Harrison High School’s Reagan Briggs in the 2023 state finals match, Madi ended up defeating her during this year’s state semifinals.

“That was an awesome feeling for her to knock off a two-time defending state champion and avenge her loss from last year’s state finals to get back to this year’s state finals,” said Haverdill. “That was a really big win for her.”

Haverdill, who has been a health teacher and head wrestling coach at BBHHS for the past 23 years, said that although this year’s team was younger and less experienced than previous teams, they exceeded his expectations. The team was once again ranked in the top 40 nationally – a ranking the team has garnered for more than ten consecutive years, according to Haverdill.

“We finished third in the team state duals, and fifth in the state final individuals,” said Haverdill. “For a team being this young, I was extremely proud of this year’s group.”

“For them to have the type of finish they had, where we were able to put that many wrestlers into the state championships and that many on the podium was an accomplishment,” he added. “Of our seven state-place winners, all of them are retuning next year. To have such a young group and have a ‘next-man-up’ ability to step up and really not miss a beat is pretty awesome.”

Third-place finishers at the state tournament included juniors Riley McPherson (190) and Evan Rizzo (165). Fourth-place finishers included sophomore Rylan Seacrist (113) and freshman Zach Aquila (150).

Aquila managed to upset a two-time defending state champion, Ty Wilson of Dublin Scioto High School, during this year’s quarterfinals.

“One thing we’re very proud of is that we had two of our athletes at the state tournament each beat two-time defending state champions,” said Haverdill. “With Zach beating Ty Wilson and Anna beating Reagan Briggs, that was really something.”

Seeing the individual growth of team members and witnessing their accomplishments were highlights of the season for Haverdill.

“For me, it was just seeing the growth of a young team,” said Haverdill. “One of the goals every year is to get the team to peak at the right time – you want their best performance at the end of the year. What I’m most proud of is that for as young as they are, they were able to wrestle and compete at their best in the biggest moments, which really says something for a young group like this.”

“It’s seeing young men and women develop, not just as wrestlers, but as people,” he continued. “That is much more gratifying than watching them win wrestling matches – although I love to see them win – just watching that growth is remarkable. There’s coaching, the accolades, winning matches, conference titles and state titles – all great things – but watching them grow and staying in touch with them as they move on is very rewarding.”

Haverdill noted that two of his daughters, Lea and Kyla, both compete on the reigning state champion BBHHS gymnastics team, with a third daughter currently working her way up through the program.

“Going into last year, I had never missed a minute of coaching and competition, but I chose to miss the first day of districts last year to watch my daughter Lea compete in the gymnastics state championships. I did the same thing again this year,” said Haverdill. “So, it’s sometimes a bit of a juggling act for me given the school’s many successful programs, but I’m very grateful to have those choices to make.” ∞

Anna Madi was state-runner up in
the girls 120-pound weight class for
a second year.

Evan Rizzo earns his 100th career
win, defeating Aiden Peterson, of
St. Edwards High School. Photo

Photo (main/above): Riley McPherson takes on Zachery Beeman of North Olmsted High School during the state tournament. Photos submitted.