It's going to be a work in progress this season for the Twinsburg wrestling team.
That work continued last week.
First, the Tigers lost 34-27 to Strongsville at home Dec. 6 in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division opener for both teams. Then, an understrength Tigers team struggled at the Liberty Classic Dec. 8.
Against Strongsville, individual match wins were tied at 7-7, but Strongsville got three pins, a forfeit and a major decision compared to two pins for the Tigers.
"They had more pins and that did us in," said Twinsburg coach Dave Mariola. "It came down to heavyweight. That's how they won it. If we had a heavyweight, we might have won. I thought they wrestled pretty good. It's OK to get beat, but you can't get pinned. We get pinned and we lose the match.
The Tigers dropped their first four matches before 132-pounder Alex Netzband stopped the bleeding with a 3-2 win.
Twinsburg then owned the middleweight classes as 138-pounder Eric Murdock won 7-2 over Nick Merrill; 145-pounder Jimmy Hiller pinned Frank Tusick in 3:28; 152-pounder Tyrone McGuinea won 9-5; and 160-pounder Alex Keller pinned Nick DiSaldo in 3:45.
In the upperweights, 195-pounder Chris Rode scored a wild 14-11 win to pick up his first varsity victory. Then, 220-pounder Onome Omobien squeezed out a 3-2 win over Justin Gauden.
"Chris had probably the most exciting match of the night," Mariola said. "He did not let everybody go unhappy. Onome beat the kid that finished third at the Solon tournament. That tells you how much he's improved."
Omobien's win closed the gap to one point, but Twinsburg had to forfeit the heavyweight match to Strongsville's Alex Uhas, giving the Mustangs the win.
The Tigers only took nine wrestlers to Olentangy Liberty, as injuries kept the Tigers open at 126. Also, McGuinea, Rode and Omobien were absent due to taking their SAT exams.
"In the Olentangy tournament, everybody gets put into four-man pools and you have to win those pools to go for first second third or fourth. We didn't have any winners in those pools. We ended up with one fifth and sixth places."
Murdock was the Tigers' top finisher in fifth place, while 106-pounder Luke Dimuzio, Netzband, Hiller and Keller all took sixth.
Mariola said he was looking for a bit more from Hiller and Keller.
"They didn't wrestle up to our expectations in the finals," Mariola said. "The other kids wrestled pretty good. When you get into that pool thing, you've got to win your pools."
The Tiger varsity team will not return to action until after Christmas.
Twinsburg was originally scheduled to travel to Elyria Dec. 22, but Mariola said the Tigers will have their Valley Division matches with Elyria, Solon and Mentor at the Mentor Duals Jan. 5.
Twinsburg will compete at the Lorain Holiday Tournament -- another pool tournament -- Dec. 28 and 29.
"Hopefully, by then, we should have our team in good shape," Mariola said. "We've got some young kids out there who may not be as strong or the other guy has more experience. But they're working hard. There's a real tight knit group."