By JAMIE BAKER
VAN BUREN — Elmwood’s Dylan Hall and Carey’s Marcus O’Flaherty wanted a shot at redemption at Saturday’s 38th annual Van Buren Invitational.
Well, they got it.
Hall and O’Flaherty were two of seven area wrestlers to earn championships on the final day of the VBI.
Both are seniors and knew it was their final chance to win the biggest locally-based tournament on the schedule.
Hall’s performance also helped Elmwood to the team championship as coach Dave Lee’s Royals topped Northern Buckeye Conference rival Eastwood 193-166 for first place.
Bluffton was the next-highest local team as the Pirates were eighth with 108 points.
It was a blue collar performance by both Hall and the Royals.
Hall held off Gibsonburg’s Tony Vasquez 3-2 in the title match at 152 pounds. A returning state qualifier for the Royals, Hall was third at last year’s VBI.
He was all smiles after being photographed atop the awards stand with an armful of tournament awards.
“Last year I was third and I got the consolation bracket. Ever since then, I was thinking about winning this one,” Hall said motioning toward the championship bracket he was holding.
“Now, I need to find a place to hang this up. I’m pretty happy with the way I wrestled. I was confident coming in and I never thought I would get beat even through it was close at the end.”
Hall’s performance capped a big weekend for the Royals, who topped rival Eastwood, after the Eagles nudged Elmwood in their NBC dual match on a tiebreaker.
Two of Hall’s teammates placed second and four more were third.
Elmwood heavyweight Jack Hagemyer fell victim to a head-and-arm throw by Bluffton’s Blake Sampson in a much-anticipated 285-pound final between returning state qualifiers. Sampson’s pin in 34 seconds was the quickest of the night in the finals.
The other Elmwood runner-up performance came at 160 from Noah Baker. He dropped an 8-3 decision to Hopewell-Loudon state placer Damion Vitt in the finale.
Corey Loera (113 pounds), Griffin Sperry (170), Jace Grossman (182) and Dylan Hinton (195) were third for Elmwood.
“We knew we were in pretty good shape. Our boys have been really wrestling well lately,” Hall said. “Coach Lee talked to us and told us we needed to get pins. We all tried to keep that in mind all weekend. It’s a great feeling to win this. It’s one of my favorite tournaments of the year.”
O’Flaherty, meanwhile, was wrestling in the 220-pound final for the second straight year.
A year ago, he was pinned in less than a minute. He was ready for his shot at redemption against Van Buren’s Nick DeVore.
“I was a little nervous but I was much more comfortable in the final than last year,” O’Flaherty said.
The match ended up being one of the more entertaining competitions of the night.
O’Flaherty took an early lead before a second-period scramble that put both wrestlers on their back was stopped by the officials because of DeVore’s bloody nose. O’Flaherty led 7-5 when the stoppage occurred.
When the match resumed O’Flaherty took charge and was able to muscle DeVore to his back for a pin in 5:16.
“We had that little tussle there when he put me on my back and I put him on his back and then his nose popped. I was kind of mad because I was thinking I was going to pin him right there,” O’Flaherty said. “But I got that toss to put him on his back and the pin was there.”
Fostoria senior Lance Smith was dominant in winning the 145 pound division. He earned his 100th career victory in the semifinals by knocking off top-seeded Damien Schmeltz of Gibsonburg 5-2.
Smith gave up an early takedown to Wayne Trace’s Hunter Showalter in the final before dominating the rest of the way for a 13-2 victory.
“I just came into the weekend with a positive attitude and everything came together,” Smith said. “Right now, I’m wrestling well. But I’m not getting overconfident, because that’s when guys get beat. I’m just going out and wrestling and not trying to think too much.”
There were also a pair of sophomore VBI champs from the area as Ada’s Chase Sumner and Ottawa-Glandorf’s Daniel Beemer recorded one-point wins in their championship bouts at 132 and 182 pounds, respectively.
1, Elmwood 193. 2, Eastwood 166. 3, Wayne Trace 162. 4, Gibsonburg 144. 5, Swanton 120. 6, Allen East 119. 7, Delphos Jefferson 109. 8, Bluffton 108. 9, Ottawa-Glandorf 97. 10, Carey 89. 11, Hopewell-Loudon 85. 12, Mohawk 84. 13, Otsego 74. 14, Fremont St. Joseph 63. 15, Van Buren 59. 16, McComb 55. 17, Columbus Grove 50. 18, Lakota 46. 19, Fostoria 45. 20, Liberty-Benton 41. 21, Ada 39. 22, Riverdale 33. 23, Delphos St. John’s & Seneca East 33. 25, Arcadia 27. 26, North Baltimore 16. 27, Cory-Rawson 12. 28, Lincolnview 5. 29, St. Wendelin 0.
106 — Schaller (Swan) dec. Bauer (WT), 4-3.
113 — Hahn (DJ) dec. Foust (DJ), 9-3.
120 — Goeltzenleucher (WT) maj. dec. Cook (Swan), 12-1.
126 — Clemens (WT) pinned Reisinger (Swan), 1:53 .
132 — Sumner (Ada) dec. Place (DJ), 4-3.
138 — Villareal (Gib) maj. dec. Dues (AE), 14-5.
145 — Smith (Fos) maj. dec. Showalter (WT), 13-2.
152 — Hall (Elm) dec. Vasquez (Gib), 3-2.
160 — Vitt (H-L) dec. Baker (Elm), 8-3.
170 — Caris (East) pinned Draper (Moh), 5:24.
182 — Beemer (O-G) dec. Jaso (Gib), 2-1.
195 — Zientek (East) dec. Nichols (CG), 3-1.
220 — O’Flaherty (Car) pinned DeVore (VB), 5:16.
285 — Sampson (Blu) pinned J. Hagemyer (Elm), :34.
106 — Kretzer (AE) dec. Pollard (Ots), 5-0, OT.
113 — Loera (Elm) dec. Montgomery (McC), 11-7.
120 — Vasquez (FSJ) dec. Pratt (Car), 3-2.
126 — Hammond (H-L) pinned Badial-Luna (Blu), 4:59.
132 — Caprella (AE) dec. Endicott (Lak), 5-2.
138 — McNett (Ots) dec. Biddle (Lak), 5-1.
145 — Schmeltz (Gib) pinned Leahey (Swan), 4:45.
152 — Soules (AE) dec. Brown (Moh), 5-2.
160 — Ferguson (Car) dec. Geary (Gib), 7-2.
170 — Sperry (Elm) dec. Binkley (DJ), 8-7.
182 — Grossman (Elm) maj. dec. Bennett (DJ), 12-1.
195 — Hinton (Elm) dec. Nasser (Blu), 7-2.
220 — Tudor (East) pinned Asher (WT), :40.
285 — Mancha (FSJ) dec. Farley (Ots), 4-2, OT.
106 — Grine (H-L) dec. Booth (East), 9-4.
113 — Brubaker (CG) dec. Filliater (FSJ), 8-3.
120 — Palomo (O-G) maj. dec. Jankowski East), 9-0.
126 — Price (Moh) dec. Patterson (NB), 5-1.
132 — Frey (Riv) by forfeit over Moore (Swan).
138 — Merritt (Elm) pinned Hossler (Fos), 4:17.
145 — Balbaugh (O-G) dec. Young (H-L), 4-2, OT.
152 — Hoepf (SE) by forfeit over Mault (Blu).
160 — Sutton (East) tech. fall Wilson (Blu), 16-0.
170 — Vonderwell (DSJ) by forfeit over Ebberskotte (O-G).
182 — Emerick (AE) maj. dec. VanSant (L-B), 13-0.
195 — Moreno (FSJ) dec. Wilson (Swan), 2-1, OT.
220 — Rhodes (L-B) by forfeit over Wiseman (Elm).
285 — Schroer (VB) dec. Hovis (Gib), 1-0.