By JAMIE BAKER
BASCOM — Wash, rinse, three-peat.
Van Buren held off Liberty-Benton in the Blanchard Valley Conference finals Saturday with Tyler Ludwig, Jake Emerine and Cade Whitticar winning titles as the Black Knights won the school’s third straight wrestling championship at Hopewell-Loudon.
The Black Knights and Eagles were tied atop the team standings at 141½-141½ after Van Buren senior Emerine won his second straight BVC title by pinning Solomon Garcia at 170 pounds.
But Van Buren got big wins from its upper weights to clinch the crown.
Whitticar held off Liberty-Benton freshman Nathan DiRe for a 4-3 decision to win the 182-pound division in the match that ultimately decided the final team standings.
Ludwig, who netted his 100th career win earlier in the day, was a repeat champ as he whipped McComb’s Andrew Smith 13-4 for the 152-pound crown.
Dino Donaldson (120) and Andres Miranda (132) added runner up finishes.
Reese Young’s pin and Kaleb Snodgrass’ win by decision at 195 and 220 pounds, respectively, for third place in the finals were also key to Van Buren’s title.
“There was a lot of good wrestling here today,” Van Buren coach Justin Slauterbeck said. “I think the nerves kind of got to us today, honestly. There was some good wrestling out there and I think people need to get out and see that.
“We lost some matches we probably shouldn’t have lost but some of our guys came through with some big wins when we needed them to. Snodgrass and Whitticar really came through in the finals.
“We showed a lot of heart and effort tonight.”
Liberty-Benton got a lot of solid performances, too.
The Eagles gave the Black Knights a run and BVC Coach of the Year Jim Wittkamp’s team certainly had its chances to win the school’s first BVC wrestling crown.
Even after DiRe’s narrow defeat at 182, senior Hunter Haws kept the Eagles’ title hopes alive by pinning Cory-Rawson’s Dylon Stoops for the 195-pound crown.
A pin in the finals by 220 pounder A.J. Dobbins or heavyweight Grant Vermilya would have allowed the Eagles to tie the Black Knights for first place.
Both Liberty-Benton and Van Buren were underdogs heading into its matches.
Dobbins was pinned by McComb’s Brice Markel and Arcadia’s John Hill took care of Vermilya in just 55 seconds for the 285-pound title.
The Eagles placed wrestlers in 12 of the 14 weight classes.
EYE OF THE TIGER: He might only be 132 pounds, but David Patterson wrestles like a Tiger three times his size.
Patterson dominated the 132-pound weight class and was named the BVC Wrestler of the Year in a vote of the league’s coaches. It was the third BVC title for the North Baltimore senior, who finished second in the conference his sophomore year.
“I kind of thought I had a chance at the MVP award with my record but after Tyler Ludwig got his 100th win today, I thought it might be him,” Patterson said. “I’m good friends with ‘Luddy’ so I was kind of pulling for him.”
Patterson blanked Liberty-Benton’s Dru Baker 14-0 in the semifinals before pinning Van Buren’s Andres Miranda in 2:55 in the final to raise his record to 36-0.
“I try not to let my record put any more pressure on myself. It’s bound to happen, I’m going to lose. I just have to make sure I immediately learn from it and use it in my next match,” Patterson said.
Senior Nate Staley added a second-place finish for the Tigers at 160.
McCOMB’S HISTORY MAKER: McComb senior Dylan Montgomery made history on Saturday when he became the league’s first four-time BVC champion.
He had to wait all day to do it.
Montgomery had a bye in the semifinals at 120 pounds meaning his championship match against Van Buren’s Dino Donaldson would be his lone match of the day.
He made the most of it rolling to an early lead in scoring a 13-4 win over Donaldson.
“This was the second-biggest goal of the season with getting to state being the biggest,” said Montgomery. “It feels pretty good knowing no one in the BVC has ever done it. Knowing I was the first BVC champ back in 2015 when the league got started is pretty cool, too.”
Montgomery has his sights set on another milestone. He is just six wins away from 100 for his career.
Jacob Dillon is also a returning champ as he scored a technical fall against Riverdale’s Thane Gallegos at 145. Markel’s pin against Dobbins at 220 gave the Panthers three champions on the day.
CHIEFTAIN HOME COOKIN’: Hopewell-Loudon had early success on its home mats by winning three of the first four weight classes.
Blake Hoover pinned Liberty-Benton’s Riley Peterson in 1:20 for the 106-pound title. The Chieftains’ normal 106 pounder, Kole Freeman, bumped up to 113 and scored a technical fall against Van Buren’s Grant Young in the finals.
Caden Crawford made it three titles for Hopewell-Loudon by pinning Cory-Rawson’s Tyler Stoodt in 1:53 at 126.
All three champs are freshmen, which gives Hopewell-Loudon coach Aaron Kapelka plenty of reason to be optimistic on the program’s future.
“We’re really pleased and excited about those guys we have in the lower weights,” Kapelka said. “If we can get a few more guys out in the upper weight classes, we have a chance to be pretty good. We have some nice kids from the junior high coming up next year so I think we’re going to be on the rise.”
WINNING BIG: Three other wrestlers scored big wins in their final matches.
Riverdale’s Wayne Frey took care of Arcadia’s Jordan McGowan with a technical fall win at 138 pounds. Cory-Rawson’s Deontae Davis capped an outstanding sophomore regular season by pinning North Baltimore’s Nate Staley in the 160-pound title bout.
The biggest win, literally, was provided by Hill, a junior for Arcadia who notched the Redskins’ only BVC title.
Hill, who hasn’t lost a match since the Van Buren Invitational in late January, could join Montgomery as a four-time BVC champ next season.
1, Van Buren 153½. 2, Liberty-Benton 147½. 3, Arcadia 90, 4, McComb 80. 5, Hopewell-Loudon 77½. 6, Cory-Rawson 75. 7, North Baltimore 74½. 8, Riverdale 43. 9, Pandora-Gilboa 8.
106 — Hoover (H-L) pinned Peterson (L-B) 1:20
113 — Freeman (H-L) tech. fall G. Young (VB) 16-0
120 — Montgomery (McC) maj. dec. D. Donaldson (VB) 12-1
126 — Crawford (H-L) pinned Stoodt (C-R) 1:53
132 — D. Patterson (NB) pinned A. Miranda (VB) 2:55
138 — W. Frey (Riv) tech. fall McGowan (Arc) 18-3
145 — Dillon (McC) tech. fall Gallegos (Riv)
152 — Ludwig (VB) maj. dec. Smith (McC) 13-4
160 — Davis (C-R) pinned Staley (NB)
170 — Emerine (VB) pinned Garcia (L-B)
182 — Whitticar (VB) dec. DiRe (L-B) 4-3
195 — Haws (L-B) pinned Stoops (C-R)
220 — Markel (McC) pinned Dobbins (L-B)
285 — J. Hill (Arc) pinned Vermilya (L-B) :55
113 — J. Patterson (NB) dec. Marczak (Arc) 8-4
120 — Musselman (L-B) won by forfeit
126 — Distel (Arc) pinned M. Miranda (VB) 2:24
132 — Baker (L-B) maj. dec. Holcomb (H-L) 13-1
138 — Trout (NB) pinned Snyder (VB)
145 — Grine (Arc) pinned Lapcevic (L-B)
152 — Gorrell (L-B) pinned Johnson (NB)
160 — Hartford (L-B) pinned Beall (VB)
170 — Durst (Arc) dec. Hinton (H-L) 6-0
182 — Peterson (C-R) dec. Blank (P-G) 4-3
195 — R. Young (VB) pinned George (Arc)
220 — Snodgrass (VB) dec. Magnall (C-R) 3-2
285 — Biller (NB) pinned Johnson (VB)
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