By JAMIE BAKER
VAN BUREN — Ada sophomore Chase Sumner was hungry on Saturday.
And it wasn’t from cutting weight to get to the 132-pound weight class either.
Sumner (24-1) won his first three matches handily before holding off Northwest Conference rival Wyatt Place 4-3 in the 132-pound championship match.
Despite the close win, he couldn’t have been more excited.
“I always wanted to win a big tournament like this. It makes me want to win, win, win,” Sumner said.
“Our room is much tougher this year and I’m getting better every day in practice. This year, I’m hungry and getting hungrier with every win.”
He’ll get a chance to satisfy his appetite next weekend when the Bulldogs head to Marion Pleasant for the Sally George Invitational.
SUPER SOPHOMORE: Another area sophomore also shined on the big stage Saturday. Ottawa-Glandorf’s Daniel Beemer started the tournament with three straight pins and a technical fall before winning a tight 2-1 battle with Gibsonburg’s Madison Jaso to improve his record to 24-1.
Beemer, whose lone loss came to Wapakoneta’s Dylan Hefner in a dual match, actually likes winning the close bouts.
“I knew there was going to be some really tough kids from our district so I was looking forward to this weekend,” Beemer said. “It’s good to have some of these close wins. Those are the matches you have to win if you are going to get to state and that’s the goal.”
VITT BACK ON TOP: When the weekend started, there were six unbeaten wrestlers competing at Van Buren. When the dust settled, one of them was Hopewell-Loudon’s Damion Vitt.
Vitt won a VBI title as a sophomore, but was unable to repeat as a junior. The Chieftains’ returning state placer got back on top Saturday night capping a 5-0 weekend with an 8-3 win in the 160-pound finals against Elmwood’s Noah Baker.
For a wrestler who just won a championship, Vitt wasn’t altogether happy.
“It was a good finals match but I didn’t perform as well as I needed to,” said Vitt, a returning state placer who improved to 21-0. “I have to step it up and wrestle better if I’m going to get where I need to be.”
TOUGH ENDING: It was a tough ending to good weekend’s for Mohawk’s Cole Draper and Columbus Grove’s Andrew Nichols.
Draper, a junior state placer with a 28-3 record, led Eastwood’s Andrew Caris 5-0 when the two got into a third-period scramble in their 170-pound championship match. Caris, one of three individual champs for the Eagles, came out on top of the scramble with Draper on his back and recorded a pin in 5:24 on the edge of the mat.
Nichols (23-2), who survived an overtime battle against Fremont St. Joseph freshman Johnny Moreno in the semifinals, gave up a late score in a 3-1 loss to Eastwood’s Zane Zientek in the 220-pound championship match.
FOUR FOR IV: Wayne Trace’s George Clemens IV became just the sixth wrestler in the tournament’s history to win four VBI championships.
Clemens (29-0), who was named the tournament’s most valuable wrestler, breezed through the 126-pound class with four pins and a technical fall as he flattened Swanton’s J.D. Reisinger in 1:53 in the final.
He joins Lakota’s Alan Sachs (1994-97), Hopewell-Loudon’s Doug Jesse (1997-2000), Monroeville’s Drew Schafer (2001-04), Bluffton’s Josh Falk (2004-07) and Swanton’s Mimmo Lytle (2009-12) as four-time VBI champs.
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