A couple of wrestling programs in the area seem to be on the rise while others are in rebuilding mode.
That’s the story after the opening weekend of the 2017-18 high school wrestling season.
A couple of area teams that have struggled in the past have already shown improvement from previous seasons during the first weekend of the year.
The Blanchard Valley Conference championship is up for grabs and Arcadia may have served notice to two-time defending champ Van Buren that they plan on challenging for the title this season.
The Redskins made strides under first-year head coach Jerry Stone a year ago. Saturday they opened their season by winning the 8-team Ridgedale Invitational behind individual champs Wyatt Lucas, Jordan Marczak, John Hill and John Snow.
Arcadia also should have a numerical advantage, which is always important in the BVC, as the Redskins will start the season with 23 wrestlers on the varsity squad.
Van Buren coach Travis Ricker has seven letterwinners back, including state alternate Tyler Ludwig, as the Black Knights are trying to win their third straight BVC title.
Lakota, too, has a solid first weekend finishing third at Saturday’s Gibsonburg Invitational behind the host Golden Bears and Eastwood for fourth-year coach Rob Timmons.
The Raiders should be strong with a number of seniors in the lineup and a number of wrestlers that should push for state qualification this season like Trevor Franks, Dakota Klotz and Darry Endicott.
Junior high coach and former FHS wrestling standout Justin Kiser has taken over as the new coach at Fostoria. He has a young team and will try and begin getting the Redmen wrestling program back on its feet.
Hopewell-Loudon also will feature a young team on the mat this winter. Coach Aaron Kapelka had a handful a lettermen and a handful of freshman on this year’s roster, that features no seniors.
The top returning wrestler is from Elmwood as state qualifier Dylan Hinton is back for his senior year after posting a 45-6 record last season for the Royals.
The area is, of course, minus one wrestling program this season with the closure of St. Wendelin High School.
Here are a few other things to watch as the wrestling season gets into full swing this week:
LAST HURRAH: This will be Dave Lee’s 30th and final season as head coach at Elmwood. Lee will retire at the end of the season after a run in charge of the area’s most consistent wrestling program.
Lee’s 525 dual meet victories ranks first all-time among Ohio’s high school wrestling coaches. His Elmwood teams have posted a 525-268 record during his tenure.
Maple Heights’ head coach Jamie Milkovich is second on the list with a 466-121-1 record.
STREAK STOPPER?: Will this be the year the area finally gets another state champ?
There are certainly some candidates and from past history, area wrestlers are due for a state title.
Area wrestlers have reached state championship matches and lost six straight times since Elmwood’s Nick Goebel won the Division III state 103-pound championship in 2009.
Van Buren’s Chance (2015) and Chad Sonnenberg (2010), Fostoria’s Tony Reynolds (2013), Elmwood’s Nick Goebel (2010) and Alex Betts (2009) and Hopewell-Loudon’s Ben Kuzma (2009) all lost in the state finals during that time period.
Below is a look at each of the area’s wrestling programs.
HEAD COACH: Jerry Stone (2nd year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/2nd in Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dylan Fenimore, sr., 182; Braydon George, sr., 195, 21-26; Reese Grine, sr., 152, 11-16; Matt Hill, sr., 182; Jordan McGowan, jr., 138; Gage Boyd, jr., 152, 13-26; John Hill, jr., 285, 33-15; Andrew Husted, jr., 160; Kenneth Durst, jr., 170, 18-28; Eric Musson, jr., 145, 10-13; Wyatt Lucas, jr., 126, 25-16; Jordan Marczak, soph., 113, 21-24.
TOP PROSPECTS: Anthony Emahiser, sr.; Alex Ginnever, jr.; Dalton Mathias, jr.; Daron Seaburn, jr.; Tristan Martinez, soph.; Chase Distel, fr.; Bryan Harrison, fr.; Kaiden Scott, fr.; Bryan Harrison, fr.; John Snow, fr.; Ethan Smarr, fr.
NOTABLE: Hill is the defending BVC heavyweight champ and a returning district qualifier. Marczak and Lucas were also 20-match winners a year ago and are returning district qualifiers.
HEAD COACH: Aaron Kapelka (3rd year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/7th in Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Chance Mason, jr., 19-21; Logan Holcomb, jr., 10-21; Caleb Hinton, soph., 7-22; Levi Kuhn, soph., 9-21; Dominic Kear, soph., 4-11.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kole Freeman, fr.; Blake Hoover, fr.; Devin Arbogast, soph.; Ryan Panuto, fr.; Cole McCarver, soph.; Caden Crawford, fr.; Aidan Sears, fr.
NOTABLE: Hopewell-Loudon is still in rebuilding mode after winning the BVC two years ago. There are no seniors on Kapelka’s 12-man roster.
HEAD COACH: Travis Ricker (2nd year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/Blanchard Valley Conference champions.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Andres Miranda, soph., 138, district qualifier; Tyler Ludwig, sr., 152, 33-11, state alternate; Kevin Beall, sr., 160, 16-13; Jake Emerine, sr., 182, 29-13, district qualifier; Cade Whitticar, 170, 28-12; Kaleb Snodgrass, soph., 220, 17-12; Reese Young, jr., 195, 10-5.
TOP PROSPECTS: Dino Donaldson, fr., 132; Grant Young, fr., 113; Mateo Miranda, soph., 120; Nate Williamson, soph., 126; Zack Kingrey, fr., 145; Ethan Johnson, fr., 285.
NOTABLE: A strong nucleus returns for the Black Knights, who are seeking their third straight BVC title. Tyler Ludwig was a win away from qualifying for state last season leads a strong group of middle weights at Van Buren this season.
HEAD COACH: Dave Lee (30th year, 525-266).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 18-9/2nd in Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kolton Bloom, sr., 113/120; Corey Loera, jr., 132, 21-19; Trevor Bingham, jr., 145, 9-3; Christian Aldaco, sr., 138, 26-19, district qualifier; Jacob Corral, jr., 152, 24-21; Brandon Love, sr., 152, 18-13; Jacob Wilhelm, sr., 160; Kain Brossia, jr., 285, 21-16; Levi Garner, sr., 160, 6-6; A.J. Gallegos, jr., 182; Garrett Wright, jr., 170, 23-20; Dylan Hinton, sr., 195, 45-6, state qualifier; Will Bechstein, soph., 220, 7-4.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: Elmwood has 13 letterwinners back including returning state qualifier Dylan Hinton. This will be Dave Lee’s 30th and final season as head coach. He’ll retire with the most dual match wins of any prep wrestling coach in Ohio history.
HEAD COACH: Justin Kiser (1st year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/8th in Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: David Daniels, jr., 132, 5-18; Ethan Clabaugh, sr., 126; Noah Damschroder, soph., 152; Cameron Delong, soph., 170, 3-23; Collin Drake, sr., 182, 16-23, district qualifier; Roger Hall, soph., 220, 15-17.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kevin Legos, fr., 132; Aaron Johnson, soph., 170; Kaonte Payton, sr., 220; Bryce Durst, sr., 220; Shawn Vilaisack, soph., 285; Dominik Nickelson, fr., 182.
NOTABLE: Kiser, a Fostoria grad, takes over a program that struggled last season. Drake, a district qualifier last year, is the team’s top returning wrestler.
HEAD COACH: Rob Timmons (4th year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/7th in Sandusky Bay Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Darry Endicott, sr., 138, 32-11; Thomas Shipley, sr., 182; Dakota Klotz, sr., 285. 30-14, district qualifier; Parker Grine, sr., 126, 5-8; Anthony Johnson, sr., 120, 17-13; Logan Bloom, sr., 120, 7-22; Bryce Anderson, sr., 145, 19-18; John Jacquot, jr., 170; Trevor Franks, soph., 152, 36-12, district qualifier; Jay Bartson, soph., 195; Wayne Paul, soph., 132.
TOP PROSPECTS: David Frye, soph., 170; Jared Hutton, soph., 220; Alex Peace, fr., 195.
NOTABLE: Franks and Klotz have state qualification potential. With seven seniors in the lineup the Raiders have high expectations heading into the season.
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