Wapak takes WBL wrestling tournament title; Cougars 5th

VAN WERT – Exactly 100 Western Buckeye League wrestlers in 14 weight classes gathered at the Cougar Den for several hours Saturday to contest WBL team and individual titles. Wapakoneta came in first with 146 points, well ahead of second place Ottawa-Glandorf's 122.5. Van Wert came in 5th with 106.

The WBL championship is a combination of the tournament and regular season places. Although the Redskins tied for second during the season, their first place in the tournament gave them the league title. It was the Redskins’ 7th crown in the last nine years. Van Wert was 7th in the regular season but 5th in the tournament, so they were 6th overall. 

The Cougars took titles at 134 with sophomore Gabe Steyer and at 140 with junior Isaiah Bretz. Five other Van Wert wrestlers placed in the top four of their classes -- freshman Killian Sudduth second at 108, senior Josh Dorsch second at 122, senior Trevor Spridgeon third at 184, sophomore Malachi Battle fourth at 162, and junior Lloyd Eutsler fourth at 222.

Steyer (now 30-2) earned a bye in the quarterfinals, then won his semifinal and final matches easily. He first pinned Wapak's Bradley Hicks in 1:19, then took the title by pinning O-G's Evan Ellerbrock in 3:43.

Bretz (35-5) had a similar experience with a quarterfinal bye, a semifinal pin (Elida's Andrew Purtee in 1:00), and a finals pin (Memorial's Preston Weichart in 5:21).

Dorsch (23-14) pinned Shawnee's Chris Paysen in the quarterfinal, but didn't have it nearly that easy in his semi. Kenton's Mason Rhoades tied the match with a last second third period takedown to send the match to overtime. Dorsch, however, quickly ended the match with a "sudden victory" takedown and added two riding time points for a 10-6 win. In the finals, however, Defiance's Lupe Martinez pretty much held Dorsch in check for a 6-2 decision.

There were only four wrestlers in the 108 class, so Sudduth (11-12) found himself instantly in the semifinals where he barely held on for a nail-biting 6-5 decision over Wapak's Bryce Knapke. Sudduth, however, was no match for Memorial's Clayton Drummond in the final. Drummond led 10-0 before pinning Sudduth in 2:15.

Spridgeon (17-9) didn't have an easy time early with Kenton's Noah Thibaut, but held on to a 5-2 lead before pinning Thibaut in 3:06. Spridgeon then ran into 2017 state qualifier Daniel Beemer. Beemer led 8-0 before pinning Spridgeon in 2:47. Spridgeon bounced back in the consolation bracket to pin Shawnee's Solomon Bryan in 4:28 to earn a spot in the 3rd place contest, which he ended up winning via forfeit.

Battle (17-21) was a pleasant surprise. Although he nearly went the distance in his quarterfinal match with O-G's Grant Goecke, the Titan led 7-0 before pinning Battle at 5:53, seven seconds before the end of the match. Battle came back with two wins in the consolation rounds -- a 12-3 major decison over Celina's Connor Goins and a down-to-the-wire 7-5 decision over Wapak's Elyjah Roa. Battle held his own in the third place match against Defiance's Izaiah Diaz. Battle actually held a 1-0 lead after two rounds, but Diaz had an early escape and takedown in the third, then held on for a 3-1 win.

Eutsler (24-11) had no trouble in his quarterfinal, pinning Elida's Tyson Williamson in 1:27. In the semifinal, however, Wapak's Evan Kaeck held on to a narrow lead before pinning Eutsler at 3:17. In the consolation round, Eutsler decisioned Celina's Cayden Thomson 3-0 to advance to the third place match. There he trailed Memorial's Austin Giesige 2-0 before being pinned in 2:18.

Freshman Macein Bigham (10-22) had an active day at 147. He lost his quarterfinal match 24-17, then got an 18-15 win in his first consolation round. His day ended with a 30-second pin at the hands of Celina's Chris Mir.

Sophomore Ryan Pratt (17-21 at 154), like Bigham, went loss-win-loss. He lost in the quarters via 19-2 technical fall to Bath's Garrett Garver, won his first consolation match 8-3, then lost his second consolation match by pin at 2:50.

Van Wert sophomore Ben Lange (16-21) wrestled at 128 and lost both his quarterfinal and consolation matches. Ditto for sophomore Dale Hammons (9-15) at 172. The Cougs had no wrestlers at 115, 197, and 287.

Final tournament standings: Wapakoneta 146, Ottawa-Glandorf 122.5, Shawnee 113.5, St. Mary's Memorial 109, Van Wert 106, Defiance 86, Bath 60, Kenton 44, Elida 43, Celina 39. 

Final regular season standings: St. Mary's Memorial 8-1, Wapakoneta 7-2, Celina 7-2, Ottawa-Glandorf 5-4, Defiance 5-4, Shawnee 5-4, Van Wert 4-5, Bath 2-7, Elida 2-7, Kenton 0-9.

Final league standings (season and tournament combined): 1. Wapakoneta 2. St. Mary's Memorial 3. Ottawa-Glandorf 4. Shawnee 5. Defiance 6. Van Wert 7. Celina 8. Bath 9. Elida 10. Kenton