Cody Surratt, Joey Baughman and Alex Jones aren’t sure who gets credit for their nickname, but the Wadsworth wrestlers take great pride in being leaders of another strong team.
A little more than a year ago, a fan or teammate gave them the moniker “Death Row.” It has not only stuck but become quite accurate, as few opponents step on the mat and come out winners.
“It’s fun, especially since we’re all best friends,” Surratt said. “It’s cool that we’re always in the finals together. We feed off it a lot. When one of us wrestles well, we all wrestle well.
“It’s awesome because everyone is like, ‘Oh, there’s Joey, Alex and Cody,’ most places we go. If you look at every tournament, we’re always wrestling in the finals.”
A look at Death Row records shows how dominant the trio has been. The three count nine first-place finishes among the North Canton Hoover, Medina Invitational, Grizzly Invitational, Suburban League and Wadsworth Sectional tournaments this season.
They’ve also had three runner-up finishes and swept the SL.
“We use it so much,” Jones said. “It breaks kids and makes us more of a powerhouse. Especially at district last year, seeing (Surratt) beat a state-ranked kid (Elyria’s Nico O’Dor) to go to state, it pushed me and (Baughman) to make it to the finals. It’s such a good feeling.”
That season finished with Baughman as a state runner-up, while Jones was fifth and Surratt seventh.
Surratt, whose favorite move is the guillotine, has made the finals of every tournament since the Ironman. The same can be said for Baughman, who didn’t wrestle at North Canton. Throw in Jones, who has won the last two tournaments he’s wrestled, and the dominance is incredible.
“We’ve grown up together,” Jones said. “We’re best friends. We want to put up a good show and then go out at the end of the day and hang out together. It’s cool because we’re always together in all phases of life. We hang out non-stop. For us to come out on the mat and see my two best friends do so well, it means so much to me.”
It’s a friendship that helps on and off the mat. Grizzlies wrestling has always been about family, but Surratt (160 pounds), Baughman (170) and Jones (182) have taken it to another level.
“They all feed off each other,” coach John Gramuglia said. “They feed socially, too because they’re always together. They’re special kids. These are the ones you have to enjoy as a coach because they don’t come around that often. We’re blessed to have them.”
Surratt and Jones are seniors, so at most they have eight days left, while Baughman is a junior.
There is no doubt they’re the catalysts for success.
That was evident Jan. 19, when a 76-match league winning streak was in jeopardy against Brecksville. The trio won and Wadsworth eked out a 31-29 win to extend its SL title streak to 26 seasons.
“We’ve been best friends since we were young,” Baughman said. “I’ve wrestled with them all year round. There’s not much we don’t do together. We always make each other better.”
As the two head to Hoover today for district, it won’t be hard to find them. Look for one and you’ll find the other two.
The only time they’re really not together is when one has to stand on the podium.
“When we’re wrestling, it draws us together more,” Baughman said. “I love being after (Surratt) because he always fires us up after beating a good kid. I’m sure (Jones) does, too.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.