For the first time in the four years of its existence, more than one NWOAL wrestling team will be competing at the 2016 OHSAA State Dual Tournament on Feb. 14. Delta, state champions in this event the previous three years, advanced in Division III, while Wauseon has qualified in Division II.
The Indians will be competing in this tournament for the first time. Prior to this year, Toledo Central Catholic was this region’s representative for the first three years. Wauseon advanced with wins over Napoleon and Sandusky Perkins to claim the regional championship Wednesday at Perkins High School.
“Couldn’t be more proud of our kids tonight,” said Wauseon coach Mike Ritter. “We knew coming in that each team presented different challenges and their strengths were in different parts of their line-up. Napoleon has some good lightweights, and Perkins is strong in the middleweights. So, we had to adjust our line-up in both matches to give us the best chance to match up with each team’s strengths.”
Napoleon got out to a fast start in the opening match by taking three of the first five matches. However, in that stretch, Wauseon’s Gavin Ritter earned a 2-1 decision at 106 pounds and Alex Slattman a 5-1 clip at 120 pounds.
“Freshman Gavin Ritter really started us out in both matches by picking up huge wins against two state-ranked kids,” explained Coach Ritter. “Alex Slattman, coming back from an injury, really picked us up with two bigs wins. We weren’t expecting him to wrestle tonight but he stepped up for the team.”
Wauseon then got a pin from Hunter Yackee (138), a decision by Andrew Bailey (145), and Sandro Ramirez’ 18-1 technical fall victory to give them the lead. Napoleon regained the lead after a decision victory by Zach Altman (160) and pin by Serapio Medina (182) around Derek Schuette of Wauseon’s decision at 170 pounds.
The Indians closed out the match with three straight pins from Tre Campbell (195), Tony Banister (220), and Alex Sosa (285) to capture a 41-24 win.
Against Perkins, Wauseon’s lead was trimmed to 24-21 heading into the final three weight classes, but Tre Campbell got a technical fall victory and Banister a pin to pull away. A default in the heavyweight division resulted in a 35-27 victory for the Indians.
“We talked all week about how we’ve been banging on the door the last three years to make a trip to the state tournament, and this year we finally opened the door,” said Ritter. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to wrestle at St. John Arena on Feb 14.”
Wauseon is seeded third in the D-II state dual tournament, and will open the tournament against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary on Feb. 14 at 1:15 p.m.
Panthers dominate in D-III
Delta did not have much trouble qualifying in Division III. In a regional they hosted, the Panthers took down Eastwood 56-18, and Tinora 60-9, to advance.
“This was a week to get back after it and really focus. Last week was a week where the boys were trying to get healthy,” said coach Anthony Carrizales of his team’s mindset heading into Wednesday’s competition.
“This is really fun. Because after a whole year of wrestling just a really tough schedule, now we are getting into the meat of things.”
The Panthers lost a combined five matches in their duals with Eastwood and Tinora.
Getting pins against Eastwood were Drew Mattin at 120 pounds, C.J. Leffler (126), John Mlynarek (138), Jesse Beverly (160), and Chance Veller (285).
Also, adding pins against the Rams were Mattin (120), Leffler (126), Jake Spiess (132), Travis Barnes (145), Beverly (160), Dylan Rogers (182), and Jaccob Wolford (195).
The Panthers will be used to their surroundings when they head to St. John Arena in Columbus on Sunday. They go into the tournament as the three-time state champs in Division III.
“Obviously, state duals is a team goal that (is) finally here. And sometimes waiting is harder than just going and wrestling,” concluded Carrizales. “So state duals is just around the corner next weekend. So I think the boys are really, really excited to see the light at the end of that tunnel.
“This is just a fun, exciting time. You could definitely tell the boys were wrestling with a little bit more energy – a little bit more excitement.”
Top-seeded Delta will begin by facing Shadyside on Sunday at 11 a.m.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010