Elmwood’s Dylan Hinton fights off a pin attempt by Ottawa-Glandorfs Daniel Beemer during last years 195-pound final at the Van Buren Invitational. Both are returning state qualifiers and will be among the area wrestlers to watch when the 40th VBI begins today. (Photo by Jamie Baker)

As quality goes, this year’s Van Buren Invitational might be the deepest it’s been in years.
The madness on the mats begins an hour earlier this year at 4 p.m. today when the 40th, or as tournament organizer Ron Nieset calls it, the Ruby Edition, of the VBI gets underway.
With teams coming throughout the Northwest District, this weekend’s Van Buren Invitational will be a good measuring stick for area wrestlers for those wrestlers with high postseason aspirations when the OHSAA state individual tournament series begins in a little more than a month.
Here are a few things to watch at this weekend’s 40th VBI:
BVC DEPTH: Most of the Blanchard Valley Conference teams have struggled at the VBI have over the past decade.
But this season, league schools, in particular, Liberty-Benton, Cory-Rawson and Arcadia, have better numbers and deeper teams than in the past. The conference may not produce many VBI champs but should have plenty of placers in the top six.
Tyler Ludwig, a state alternate for Van Buren last season, rolled through last week’s Lima Senior Invitational at 152 pounds and enters the tournament with an 18-1 record. Senior Jacob Emerine (170) is 17-2 while freshmen Grant Young (113) and Dino Donaldson (120) both have won 14 matches heading into the weekend for the Black Knights.
Cory-Rawson is led by a solid senior class this weekend that includes Isaiah Colvin (16-2 at 138), Zerich Magnall (220) and Daniel White (132). In addition, sophomore Deontae’ Davis has a perfect 16-0 mark at 160 pounds.
Liberty-Benton is hoping for multiple VBI placers this week with a solid group of upper weights in Woodmore Classic champ freshman Nathan DiRe (182) and seniors Hunter Haws (16-4 at 195) and A.J. Dobbins (18-7 at 220).
Arcadia has placed high as a team at every tournament its competed in. The Redskins have a solid team and are led by heavyweight John Hill, who is coming off a championship performance at last week’s Carey Classic.
WELCOME MAT: The VBI will roll out the welcome mat for two new teams — Pandora-Gilboa and Sandusky St. Mary’s.
Hayden Blank (182) is the first wrestler in the school’s history for Pandora-Gilboa. Sandusky St. Mary’s has a rich wrestling history dating back decades. The Panthers are coached by four-time OHSAA state champ Jared Opfer, who won 211 matches for St. Mary’s from 1996-99.
MARQUEE MATCHUPS: There will be plenty of interesting matchups at the 40th VBI but none for area wrestling fans will be more intriguing than the 182- and 195-pound divisions.
Returning state placers Daniel Beemer of Ottawa-Glandorf and Tanner May from Carey headline the field at 182. At 197, Bluffton’s Deandre Nassar and Elmwood’s Dylan Hinton could do battle for the title if things go according to Hoyle, as they say.
If they square off, expect tight low scoring matches in both bouts.
THEY’RE BACK: Three wrestlers in the field will be trying to get their name among the list of 23 wrestlers who have won three VBI championships.
Beemer will be looking for his third crown as will Ada two-time state placer Chase Sumner (145) and Swanton’s Trevor Schaller.
Other returning VBI champs include Mohawk’s Parker Brown, Gibsonburg’s Brad Mendoza, Otsego’s Jake Manley, and Swanton’s Chase Moore and Tommy Lytle, brother of four-time VBI champ and current University of Findlay wrestler Mimmo Lytle.
SPECIAL CEREMONY: There will be a ceremony just prior to the finals to honor many who have contributed to the tournament’s 40-year run at Van Buren.
Several of the six four-time VBI champs will also be on hand.
IF YOU GO: Action gets underway one hour earlier this year at 4 p.m. today. Wrestling resumes at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with a round of consolations followed by the semifinals. The championship finals are set for 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
All-session passes are $14 for adults and $8 for students. Friday admission is $6 for adults and $4 for students. Saturday prices are $10 for adults and $6 for students.

Seeded Wrestlers
106 — 1, Jake Manley (Ots) 12-1; 2, Kole Freeman (H-L) 11-1; 3, Jordan Kennedy (AE) 16-3; 4, Trey Tuttamore (East) 10-2; 5, Will Blevins (SSM) 17-4; 6, Tayton Kleman (Blu) 11-5.
113 — 1, Chase Caprella (AE) 18-0; 2, Brandon Hahn (East) 30-1; 3, Reece Mullholand (Car) 15-3; 4, Grant Young (VB) 14-5; 5, Luke Bullinger (Lin) 15-7; 6, Jonathan Patterson (NB) 8-5.
120 — 1, Drake Carmean (AE) 14-1; 2, Dylan Montgomery (McC) 11-1; 3, Zack Schaller (Swan) 19-2; 4, Dino Donaldson (VB) 14-5; 5, Wesley Tressler (L-B) 13-3; 6, Cameron Pollard (Ots) 18-6.
126 — 1, Trevor Schaller (Swan) 16-2; 2, Gus Mancuso (Ots) 19-6; 3, David Garcia (Gib) 15-2; 4, Tyler Bauer (WT) 15-4; 5, Isaac Hernandez (O-G) 7-2; 6, Wyatt Lucas (Arc) 21-7.
132 — 1, David Patterson (NB) 18-0; 2, Wil Roth (SSM) 18-2; 3, Dylan Cook (Swan) 17-5; 4, Kyle Fruth (East) 24-8; 5, Logan Bloom (Lak) 10-4; 6, Corey Loera (Elm) 4-2.
138 — 1, Jacob Hahn (East) 25-2; 2, Daniel Price (Moh) 18-5; 3, Noah Saunders (Swan) 16-2; 4, Darry Endicott (Lak) 16-2; 5, Avery Teeple (Gib) 11-3; 6, Isaiah Colvin (C-R) 16-2.
145 — 1, Hugo Villareal (Gib) 23-2; 2, Chase Sumner (Ada) 20-1; 3, Gage Pachlhofer (Swan) 17-5; 4, Jacob Dillon (McC) 15-3; 5, Brendan Love (Elm) 19-8; 6, Bryce Anderson (Lak) 14-5.
152 — 1, Chase Moore (Swan) 21-1; 2, Trevor Franks (Lak) 18-0; 3, Tyler Ludwig (VB) 18-1; 4, Rico Lopez (Moh) 11-3; 5, Ranson Loftis (Ots) 16-9; 6, James Badial-Luna (Blu) 14-5.
160 — 1, Deonte Davis (C-R) 18-0; 2, Grant Goecke (O-G) 14-1; 3, Parker Brown (Moh) 17-3; 4, Brady Jaso (Gib) 18-3; 5, Ryan Marvin (Swan) 19-4; 6, Nate Staley (NB) 10-4.
170 — 1, Brad Mendoza (Gib) 22-1; 2, Connor Kwiat (TC) 11-0; 3, Danny Rosales (O-G) 15-2; 4, Hunter Showalter (WT) 16-3; 5, Garrett Wright (Elm) 17-4; 6, Jaco Emerine (VB) 17-2.
182 — 1, Daniel Beemer (O-G) 15-0; 2, Tanner May (Car) 19-1; 3, Garrett Neth (AE) 18-3; 4, Jarett Spoores (Gib) 17-8; 5, Thomas Shipley (Lak) 10-4; 6, Levi Kuhn (H-L) 12-6.
195 — 1, Dylan Hinton (Elm) 25-2; 2, Deandre Nassar (Blu) 17-0; 3, Crew Oberheim (Swan) 20-5; 4, Seth Welsh (East) 21-3; 5, Dakota Sargent (C) 16-5; 6, Hunter Haws (L-B) 16-4.
220 — 1, Chris Kuhn (SSM) 15-2; 2, Marciano Salazar (Gib) 11-1; 3, Will Bechstein (Elm) 16-5; 4, Dylan Sargent (CG) 20-3; 5, Brice Markel (McC) 9-1; 6, A.J. Dobbins (L-B) 18-7.
285 — 1, Tommy Lytle (Swan) 21-1; 2 Mason Weldon (Gal) 4-1; 3, John Hill (Arc) 29-1; 4, Jeff Meyer (CG) 20-2; 5, Ethan Schlack (Car) 16-5; 6, Kain Brossia (Elm) 16-6.
Baker, 419-427-8409
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