VAN BUREN SENIOR Tyler Ludwig, top, is in control of Elmwoods Jacob Wilhelm during their 152-pound first-round match at Fridays Van Buren Invitational. Ludwig scored a 9-2 win and is one of four Van Buren wrestlers to reach todays semifinals. (Photo by Jamie Baker)

VAN BUREN — There would be nothing sweeter for Van Buren senior Tyler Ludwig than to finish on top at home one more time.
After Friday’s first day of the 40th Van Buren Invitational, he’s halfway there. Ludwig racked up a pair of wins to advance to today’s tournament semifinals.
Ludwig handled Elmwood’s Jacob Wilhelm 9-2 in his 152-pound opener but, he admitted, he wasn’t as sharp as he’d like.
“I was very nervous. I didn’t really know much about the guy I was facing. First match in my last Van Buren Invitational, it was very nerve wracking,” said Ludwig, who will enter today’s semifinal match against Lakota’s Trevor Franks with a 20-1 record.
“This tournament is a big deal to me. There are a lot of friends and family that come and watch here this weekend because we’re at home. There’s more pressure to do well this weekend but now that I got that first match out of the way and I’ll be ready to rock in the rest of my matches.”
He did rock his second match, earning a tight 4-3 win over Bluffton’s James Badial-Luna in the quarterfinals.
“I’m hoping to go the extra mile here this year. I want to place and win the tournament if I can,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig is wrestling with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He was offended by being dropped from the Division III state rankings circulating on the Internet after his only loss of the season.
“I would mean a lot to win this. It would prove everyone wrong. I was on the state rankings until I took my one loss and then they kicked me off. That upset me,” Ludwig said. “Hopefully, we can prove everyone wrong this weekend and show that Van Buren has some tough wrestlers.”
He has a little added incentive to make the finals as well.
Ludwig was fifth at districts a year ago, one place away from qualifying for state. The wrestler who kept Ludwig from advancing to state, Swanton’s Chase Moore, is seeded first in his weight class this weekend.
“I went to Jordan’s camp and I went to a couple of Ohio Northern camps with Kyle Kwiat and that’s helped me be a new kind of wrestler,” Ludwig said. “When I work out every day I think about how close I was to going to state last year. Winning this weekend would be awesome.”
Jake Emerine also had a big day for the host Black Knights.
Emerine netted his 100th career by pinning Lincolnview’s Brok Bill in a rattail bout at 170 pounds. He stopped Allen East’s Caleb Welch in the first round and pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament by beating Ottawa-Glandorf state qualifier Danny Rosales 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
Dino Donaldson (120) and Kaleb Snodgrass (220) also reached the semifinals for the Black Knights.
NO RESPECT?: Despite being a defending VBI champ, Mohawk’s Parker Brown has to feel a little like Rodney Dangerfield. A state qualifier in 2016, Brown was only seeded third at 160 pounds.
Don’t bet against him.
Brown, now 19-2 on the year, recorded a pin and 9-1 major decision in his two wins Friday night. He’ll have a tough match with Ottawa-Glandorf’s Grant Goecke in the semifinals,
ON TARGET: Big finals matches featuring area returning state qualifiers at 182 and 195 pounds are still on target.
At 182 pounds, Ottawa-Glandorf’s Daniel Beemer (17-0) pinned Pandora-Gilboa’s Hayden Blank and Swanton’s Connor Cass to move into the semis. Carey’s Tanner May did the same with a pins against Mohawk’s Grant Theis, Ada’s Xander White and Cory-Rawson’s Dylon Stoops.
Both Beemer and May are returning state placewinners and still need to win in today’s semifinals for the match to occur.
Elmwood’s Dylan Hinton and Bluffton’s Deandre Nassar (19-0) breezed through their quarterbracket as well.
Hinton stopped Ottawa-Glandorf’s Matt Schmersal and Delphos Jefferson’s Jordan Bonifas. Nassar beat Lakota’s Jaymn Bartson and Riverdale’s Ethan Hayes.
STILL UNBEATEN: In addition to Nassar and Beemer, four other wrestlers kept their unbeaten seasons intact,
North Baltimore’s David Patterson, the top seed at 132 pounds improved to 20-0 with a pair of wins. Allen East’s Chase Caprella is 19-0 at 113 pounds, Lakota’s Trevor Franks is 21-0 at 152 and Tiffin Calvert’s Connor Kwiat moved to 13-0 at 170.
One unbeaten wrestler was dealt his first loss. Cory-Rawson’s Deontae Davis (19-1), the top seed at 160, dropped a 13-3 major decision to Otsego’s Cole Steele in the quarterfinals.
TIMING TODAY: The tournament this morning resumes with consolation wrestling at 9:30 a.m. followed by the semifinals. The finals are set for 4:30 p.m. with special ceremonies beforehand honoring several people involved with the past 40 years.

1, Swanton 114. 2, Gibsonburg 71. 3, Eastwood 58. 4, Mohawk 57. 5, Otsego 54. 6, Elmwood 52. 7, Lakota 51. 8, Van Buren 46. 9, Wayne Trace 44. 10, Ottawa-Glandorf & Sandusky St. Mary’s 38. 12, Allen East 36. 13, Carey 34. 14, McComb 28. 15, Bluffton 28. 16, Cory-Rawson & Seneca East 23. 18, Columbus Grove & North Baltimore 20. 20, Tiffin Calvert 19. 21, Arcadia 18. 22, Delphos Jefferson 16. 23, Hopewell-Loudon 14. 24, Galion 14. 25, Riverdale 12. 26, Lincolnview 7. 27, Liberty-Benton 6. 28, Ada 4. 29, Pandora-Gilboa 2.
106 “” Jake Manley (Ots) 14-1 vs. Will Blevins (SSM) 19-4; Gabe Sutton (WT) 14-4 vs. Kole Freeman (H-L) 12-1.
113 “” Chase Caprella (AE) 19-0 vs. Luke Bullinger (Lin) 17-7; Reece Mullholand (Car) 17-3 vs. Brandon Hahn (East) 32-1.
119 “” Drake Carmean (AE) 15-1 vs. Dino Donaldson (VB) 16-5; Cameron Pollard (Ots) 20-6 vs. Dylan Montgomery (McC) 12-1.
126 “” Trevor Schaller (Swan) 18-2 vs. Tyler Bauer (WT) 17-4; David Garcia (Gib) 17-2 vs. Gus Mancuso (Ots) 21-6.
132 “” David Patterson (NB) 20-0 vs. Corey Loera (Elm) 7-2; Kyle Fruth (East) 27-8 vs. Wil Roth (SSM) 20-2.
138 “” Jacob Hahn (East) 28-2 vs. Darry Endicott (Lak) 18-2;
145 “” Hugo Villareal (Gib) 25-2 vs. Bryce Anderson (Lak) 16-5; Morgan Price (Moh) 12-9 vs. Gage Pachlhofer (Swan) 19-5.
152 “” Chase Moore (Swan) 24-1 vs. Rico Lopez (Moh) 13-3; Tyler Ludwig (VB) 20-1 vs. Trevor Franks (Lak) 20-0.
160 “” Cole Steele (Ots) 15-9 vs. Ryan Marvin (Swan) 22-4; Parker Brown (Moh) 19-2 vs. Grant Goecke (O-G) 17-1.
170 “” Brad Mendoza (Gib) 24-1 vs. Hunter Showalter (WT) 18-3; Jacob Emerine (VB) 20-2 vs. Connor Kwiat (TC) 13-0.
182 “” Daniel Beemer (O-G) 17-0 vs. Thomas Shipley (Lak) 13-4; Garrett Neth (AE) 21-3 vs. Tanner May (Car) 22-1.
195 “” Dylan Hinton (Elm) 27-2 vs. Dakota Sargent (CG) 18-5; Seth Welch (East) 23-3 vs. Deandre Nassar (Blu) 19-0.
220 “” Chris Kuhn (SSM) 17-2 vs. Greg Wilson (Swan) 10-3; Nick Theis (Moh) 2-0 vs. Kaleb Snodgrass (VB) 5-3.
285 “” Tommy Lytle (Swan) 23-1 vs. Jeff Meyer (CG) 22-2; Kain Brossia (Elm) 18-6 vs. Mason Weldon (Gal) 6-1.
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