By JAMIE BAKER
VAN BUREN — An outstanding Friday turned in to a bit of a frustrating Saturday for host Van Buren’s wrestling team at the 40th VBI.
The Black Knights seemed poised for perhaps their best VBI finish ever when they were in eighth place with 46 points after the semifinals on Friday night.
But Tyler Ludwig (152), Kaleb Snodgrass (220), Jake Emerine (170) and Dino Donaldson (119) all lost in the semifinals. The rest of the Black Knights consolation wrestlers were eliminated right off the bat on Saturday morning too.
Van Buren did put some points on the board to finish smack dab in the middle of the pack in 14th place with 70 points.
“Great day yesterday, tough day today. Guys who should have won, won. Our guys who want to go to state, we told them today we have to beat the guys we’re supposed to but we need to beat those guys we’re even with,” Van Buren coach Travis Ricker said.
“I have a list of five different things we really have to work on starting Monday. The next time we see a lot of those schools hopefully things will be ironed out.”
The Black Knights did finish the tournament on a bit of an upswing as Ludwig got the home crowd excited with an overtime pin against Mohawk’s Rico Lopez in the third-place match.
Emerine won his finale with a hard-fought 5-3 victory over Hunter Showalter for fifth place.
TITANS TOP TEAM: Champs Grant Goecke (160) and Daniel Beemer (182) helped Ottawa-Glandorf to a fourth-place finish, the best for an area team and their highest VBI team showing in the 28 years they’ve participated in the event.
Five of the seven wrestlers that competed placed for O-G.
Danny Rosales (170) rebounded from a loss in Friday’s quarterfinals to finish third. Isaac Hernandez (126) was fourth and Evan Ellerbrock (132) fifth for the Titans.
GETTING IT TOGETHER: After struggling with a patchwork lineup through the early weeks of the season, Mohawk’s lineup seems to be coming together ahead of next week’s OHSAA regional team tournament the Warriors will be hosting.
In his first action in more than a year, Nick Theis notched a runner up finish at 220 pounds. David Price (138) also fell in the championship match. Parker Brown (160) was third, Rico Lopez (152) fourth and Morgan Price (145) ended up fifth for Mohawk.
REST OF THE ROYALS: Elmwood didn’t have anyone but Hinton in the finals but five other Royals posted top-six placements.
Kain Brossia led the way by finishing third in a competitive 285-pound field. Corey Loera (132), Brendan Love (145) and Garrett Wright (170) were fourth. Tyler Bechstein added a fifth-place showing for the Royals at 220.
LAKOTA HARDWARE: Lakota coach Rob Timmons, who was one of many honorees in pre-finals ceremonies for being a two-time VBI champ, was named the tournament’s Mr. Nice Guy award for sportsmanship.
The Raiders finished with five placers as Darry Endicott (138) was fourth, Dakota Klotz (285) finished fifth and Bryce Anderson (145) and Thomas Shipley (182) were sixth.
BLOODIED, NOT BEATEN: Hopewell-Loudon’s Kole Freeman battled through a number of stoppages for his bloody nose in a 6-2 semifinal loss to Wayne Trace’s Gabe Sutton at 106 pounds. Undeterred, Freeman bounced back to win his next two matches and earn third place for the Chieftains.
‘SKINS STRUGGLE: Despite winning a few smaller tournaments this season with the team’s depth, Arcadia’s wrestlers had their hands full with the 30-team VBI field.
John Hill led the Redskins by finishing fourth in the 285-pound division. Wyatt Lucas was sixth at 126 pounds as he defaulted his finals match.
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By JAMIE BAKER