Ever since long-time coach Pat Welfle retired from Edison to coach his kids at St. Paul, the Chargers' wrestling program has been in flux.
Coach after coach went through that revolving door for a couple of years before Edison plucked Davy Hermes from the Perkins' coaching staff to keep that door from revolving.
It didn't take long Hermes, who has surrounded himself with other assistant coaches from Perkins and other top-notch programs, to show that he means business.
In the season-opening Edison Invitational over the weekend, Hermes' host Chargers flat-out dominated the field, scoring a whopping 414 points to win the 10-team field.
The Chargers had five champions, three runners-up and three third-place finishers out of 14 wrestlers.
"The kids have been working really hard the first three weeks of practice," Hermes said. "These kids have had six head coaches in six years, including junior high, so they're starting to believe in me and us. They believe in what we do, and they work hard and it's starting to show on mat."
Considering that Edison finished third last year, it's a dramatic improvement. That, and the Chargers defeated defending champion Norwalk by 89 points (414-335).
With the tournament in a pool format instead of the standard bracket format, everyone was guaranteed at least five matches, win or lose. That meant that, if Edison was going to win, the Chargers needed their wins to count.
"Before the tournament, we knew we'd have to dominate and get as many pins as possible early on," Hermes said. "So, we went out and got 10 pins in our first 10 matches. That's just fantastic.
"Whereas with most tournaments, some wrestlers lose twice and they're done. Here, everyone has an equal chance to earn the same amount of points. So, for us to score over 400 points shows just how dominant we really were."
Edison's champions included Cam Michel (103 pounds), Tim Majoy (112), Kyle Burns (125), Ryan Neuberger (145) and Craig Ritz (215).
Out of the champions, one of biggest surprises was the performance of Burns, a freshman making his varsity debut.
Burns was paired up in the finals against Hopewell-Loudon's Mitch Dandurand, a three-time state placer who is ranked third in the state in his weight class. Burns came away with a 7-4 win that wasn't nearly as close as the score showed.
"Kyle gave Mitch every single one of those points," Hermes said. "There's new rule in the OHSAA where, once you check in to the match, you can't approach your coach. He did, and he got docked a point before the match even began.
"Then, he just went after him. For six minutes, he dominated that kid. He took him down three times, and let him get back up each time. It was fantastic."
Burns was named the Most Valuable Wrestler of the tournament. Not bad for someone who was a three-time junior high state qualifier who placed last year as an eighth-grader.
Did the fact that he started the match down 1-0 throw him off?
"Nah, I just kind of laughed it off," Burns said. "I knew I had to wrestle my match. It was my first time hearing about him and that he was highly ranked, but it didn't bother me."
Hermes was hoping that his freshman and Dandurand would meet in a high-profile match.
"We know that Dandurand and Hopewell-Loudon are in our district, so we knew that Kyle would have to get through him eventually if he wanted to get to state," Hermes said. "So, we were happy to schedule them in our tournament and make sure they were paired up. It worked out they would meet in the finals, and it went much better than I had hoped."
Now, Hermes and his crew are aiming to prove that their season-opening performance was no fluke. They'll have a great chance to prove it this weekend in the Bellevue Bob Bailey Invitational.
"At our tournament, there were about two-to-three wrestlers in each weight class that you thought could win it," Hermes said. "At Bellevue, there's about four-to-five in each class. It's a much stronger tournament.
"Bellevue's been the team to beat in this area for a long time, and Shelby's got a nice team coming back. Also, Amherst Steele is coming off a very good Knights of Columbus Tournament. We've got our work cut out for us."
Hermes said the key is having nice mix of wrestlers.
"We've got great athletes and great seniors," Hermes said. "Tim Majoy, Craig Ritz and Ryan Neuberger are phenomenal leaders in the room and everything you can ask for in a group of seniors. And, we have 14 freshmen who have been great since they joined this team. It makes you happy to know you'll have this group for the next four years."
Two former Perkins state champions -- Damar Pentorn and Matt Fisher -- have signed on as assistant coaches for Hermes. Also, Paul Sanchez was a long-time Bellevue assistant, and Mike Majoy and Carlo Mancuso have been with the Edison program for many years.
"It's great to be in the room with these coaches," Burns said. "The knowledge they bring to the room is amazing. Plus, there are more guys to work with in the room, so our conditioning has improved."
Bellevue finished third at this year's Avon Lake K of C Tournament behind champion Willoughby South (205) and runner-up Amherst (179). The Redmen had 165 points. Josh Zenowicz (171) and Joe Miller (189) were champions in their weight classes, while Markie Brooks (HVY) and Shane Justice (135) finished second. Also, Vermilion's Anthoney Budka (145) finished second in his weight class.
Clyde won the Hamilton Twp. Invitational with 381 points. Runner-up Miami Trace had 315 points. Champions from the Fliers included Sam Gerber (103), Craig Gerber (119) and Cory Ortolani (171). Ortolani, the brother of St. Mary state runner-up Christian Ortolani, went 5-0 with five pins.
Monroeville, minus junior Logan Stieber, finished 17th at the prestigious Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament last weekend. Both Hunter Stieber (112) and Chris Phillips (171) lost their first matches of their high school careers and finished second and third, respectively. Cam Tessari (130), a defending state champ, finished fourth in his new weight class, just missing a third-place win by a late takedown that was just barely inbounds.
Oak Harbor didn't do that great at the Ironman, but two of its wrestlers can be very proud of their performances. Sophomore Konnor Witt (145) took fifth place in his weight class, while Ian Miller (135) had three-time state champion David Taylor from St. Paris Graham on his back during their second-round match. It was Taylor's biggest test en route to becoming the first four-time champion in the Ironman's 15-year history.
Norwalk's Sam Montana (140) and Jared Torrence (HVY), along with Western Reserve's Mike Swan (152), were also area champions from the Edison Invite. Travis Arnold (119), Jacob Beamer (171) and Jake Alexander (215) took second for the Truckers, and Margaretta's Rob Steel was runner-up at 189 pounds with Western's Tim Grys (135) and Firelands' Paul Garcia (145).
Plymouth's Myles Rinehart (135) was his team's lone champion at the Hillsdale Invitational. South Central's Payton Oney (135) and Nick Hamilton (HVY) were the Trojans' lone champs at the Mansfield Madison Coke Classic.
The biggest tournament of the weekend is the 32nd Annual Bellevue Bob Bailey Invitational. The 10-team field features the host Redmen, along with area teams Edison, Port Clinton and Vermilion. Other teams competing include Amherst, North Ridgeville, Mansfield Sr., Hudson, Shelby and Woodmore.
This tournament will be held in a pool format. Wrestlers will compete in six matches throughout the day wrestling in their assigned pool, and the finals (first-, third-, and fifth-place matches) will pair the pool placers against each other.
Wrestling begins at 10 a.m, with finals beginning at 6 p.m.