Stow-Munroe Falls wrestling coach Randy Jenkins has never been one to sugarcoat the challenges his team faces.
That's not about to change, even after his team's performance at Hudson Holiday Tournament Dec. 14 and 15.
"It's a young team and we're building things this year," Jenkins said. "The competition here was much tougher than it was [at Aurora]. This is a measuring stick of where we are."
Where the Bulldogs were was ninth in the field with 82.5 points. Parma won the team title with 196.5 points.
What Jenkins might be more concerned about is that fellow Northeast Ohio Conference River Division teams Cuyahoga Falls (141 points), Hudson (139) and Brunswick (121) all finished ahead of them.
Another point of concern: Only four Bulldogs reached the podium and Stow went 1-of-4 in placement matches.
One good piece of news for Stow was the return of freshman 106-pounder Kyle Jenkins to the lineup after illness.
The younger Jenkins made it to the final in his second straight tournament. He pinned Norton's Noah Zupancic in 2:47 and New Philadelphia's Logan Dusenberry in 4:15 to open the tournament. Then, he dominated Copley's Tammay Shah 13-3 in the semifinals.
In the final, Jenkins faced off against Brunswick's John Heil -- the younger brother of three-time state champion Dean Heil of St. Edward. The match was tight, but Heil scored the lone takedown in the match and won 3-0.
"Kyle wrestled a good match against a very tough wrestler," coach Jenkins said. "Those two could see each other again. It doesn't work to wrestle against lesser guys."
After winning the tournament at 195 last season, Stow had hoped senior 195-pounder Gage Finegan would repeat as champion.
Finegan opened with a 17-1 technical-fall win over Crestwood's Stephen Cox, followed by a 10-0 shutout of Warren Howland's Andrew Rolfe.
However, in the semifinals, Finegan ran into his archrival: Cuyahoga Falls' Joe Repasky. According to Jenkins, the match was a virtual mirror image of two wrestlers' first encounter this season on Dec. 6. After trading escapes in the second and third periods, Repasky scored a late takedown to secure a 3-1 win.
Finegan rebounded by defeating Maple Heights' Larenz Robertson 3-1. However, Jenkins chose to hold Finegan out of the third-place match due to illness, which gave New Philadelphia's Dakota Hill the match via forfeit.
Senior 126-pounder Dylan Hartwig also returned to the lineup at Hudson and earned his way to fifth place the hard way.
Hartwig opened by pinning Archbishop Hoban's Joseph McGough in 1:42, but then fell to Brunswick's Zack Taylor 6-3.
In the consolation bracket, Hartwig squeezed out an 8-7 win over Hudson' Chris Motter and then earned his podium spot with a 13-3 win over Norton's AJ Ritzman.
Hartwig was pinned in 4:50 by Howland's Alex Cornicelli in the consolation semifinals, but in the fifth-place match, he was able to turn DJ Lieberth and win 13-7.
Junior 160-pounder Hunter Massey got the top seed in his bracket and started well. After a bye, Massey beat Hoban's Nick Schondel 8-7 to reach the semifinals.
From there, however, everything went wrong for Massey.
First, Hudson's Michael Coleman shut him out 10-0.
Then, Massey lost an 8-3 decision to Parma's Pat John in the consolation semifinals.
Finally, in the fifth-place match, Massey lost a 6-3 decision to Maple's Deshon Johnson.
Stow will have plenty of time to lick its wounds, as the Bulldogs will not return to action until 2013.
Stow will travel to North Royalton Jan. 3 at 6 p.m. for an NOC River Division match.