Liberty-Benton’s Justin Hartford has Van Buren’s Grant Young on his back in their 160-pound match during Wednesday’s in-school dual at Van Buren. Hartford eventually won a 15-3 major decision. (Photo by Jamie Baker.)



VAN BUREN — Van Buren senior Reece Young got the result he wanted.

But by the time he took the mat, Wednesday’s in-school wrestling dual with rival Liberty-Benton was already decided.

Liberty-Benton strung together three straight wins in the lower weights and four more in the middle weights on its way to a 46-29 win against the Black Knights.

The match, which was wrestled in front of Van Buren’s entire high school and middle school, was solidly in L-B’s favor at 46-17 when Young stepped on the mat for his match at 195 pounds against Caleb Pierre.

That made no difference to Young, who was looking forward to Wednesday’s bout in more ways than one.

“Today was amazing, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do,” said Young of the opportunity to compete in front of all of his classmates.

“I was also looking forward to today because we wrestled each other at a scrimmage, and I didn’t wrestle that day the way I would have liked. It was kind of nice to get a little payback.”

The two got in an early scramble and Young ended up with a takedown, quickly taking Pierre to his back for a pin in 50 seconds.

By the time the Black Knights student section had something to cheer about, many had already been dismissed for the day.

Immediately before Young’s pin, Van Buren’s Cade Whitticar whipped Dylan Mersch 21-7.

Kaleb Snodgrass closed the varsity match out by pinning the Eagles’ Matthew Berger in 3:34 to give the Black Knights a string of three straight wins to end the match.

Despite a loss to Van Buren’s Blanchard Valley Conference rival, the day was a success, according to head coach and athletic director Justin Slauterbeck.

“I thought the crowd was outstanding and it was a great atmosphere. We tried to make it a spectacle, and I think we did that today,” Slauterbeck said.

“I’m pretty pleased with what I saw out there today. I think this will be the start of a great rivalry with L-B, because we’re going to see them all year.”

Liberty-Benton got a pair of forfeit wins at 106 and 120, but in the match between Aiden Mowrey was the first Van Buren wrestler to get the partisan crowd on their feet.

Mowrey scored a reversal against Liberty-Benton’s Luke Broerman and turned him to his back for a pin in 57 seconds at 113 pounds to get the Black Knight student section charged up.

Liberty-Benton went up 24-6 when Wesley Tressler (126) pinned Brendan McCauley in 26 seconds and Dru Baker (132) pinned Mateo Miranda in 3:01.

The Black Knights got back-to-back wins when Dino Donaldson (138) blanked Camden Worstein 11-0 and Andres Miranda (145) knocked off Mason Richards 7-5 in overtime.

After that, four straight wins by the Eagles put the match out of reach.

“It was our first match and I think we really came out strong in the first period,” Slauterbeck said.

“After that, the adrenaline rush kind of wore off. We have some kids at different weight classes that they will be in the future. I saw a lot of good things today. Kids are trying the things we are working on in practice and they are working hard to get better.”

Brett Ogborn started Liberty-Benton’s mid-match run with a pin against Jordan Spoon at 4:50.

Justin Hartman (170) took care of Grant Young 15-3; Race Gorrell pinned A.J. Overmyer in 3:29 and Nathaniel DiRe flattened Dom Donaldson in 1:54 to turn Liberty-Benton’s 24-13 edge into a 46-13 cushion pending the final three matches.

For the Eagles, it was an extension of the winning performance at Saturday’s Cory-Rawson Duals.

Right now, though, L-B coach Chad Marzec is keeping things in perspective.

Sure, a win over the three-time defending BVC champs is nice but he has his eye on making sure his young Eagles progress and improve.

“It’s affirming to see our kids use the things we’re working on in practice,” Marzec said.

“For us, it’s about getting better at the basics and fundamentals of wrestling. It doesn’t matter who we are wrestling, we just want to see the kids get better.”

L-B’s wrestlers will get a chance at their own in-school dual next season.

“I have to give special thanks to Van Buren and our administrators for making today possible,” Marzec said. “Van Buren is a great program and coach Slauterbeck did an awesome job today with this match.

“I think this is a great way to promote school spirit and get wrestling a little more exposure. If you talk to any of the guys who wrestled here today, they are on cloud nine.”

LIBERTY-BENTON 46, Van Buren 29

106 — Oswalt (L-B) won by forfeit

113 — Mowrey (VB) pinned Broerman :57

120 –Musselman (L-B) won by forfeit.

126 — Tressler (L-B) pinned McCauley :26

132 — Baker (L-B) pinned M. Miranda 3:01

138 — Dino Donaldson (VB) maj. dec. Worstein 11-0

145 — A. Miranda (VB) dec. Richards 7-5 OT

152 — Ogborn (L-B) pinned Spoon 4:50

160 — Hartford (L-B) maj. dec. G. Young 15-3

170 — Gorrell (L-B) pinned Overmyer 4:39

182 — DiRe (L-B) pinned Dom Donaldson 1:54

195 — Whitticar (VB) maj. dec. Mersch 21-7

220 — R. Young (VB) pinned Pierra 1:50

285 — Snodgrass (VB) pinned Berger 3:34

Baker, 419-427-8409

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