MATTHIAS LEGUIRE / for The Courier
BLUFFTON SENIOR DeAndre Nassar, right, fends off a takedown try by an opponent during the Findlay Duals earlier this season. Nassar, the area’s top returning state placer, is off to a 5-0 start this season.

By JAMIE BAKER

SPORTS EDITOR

Two weekends are in the books for area high school wrestling teams.

While there hasn’t been much team success for area squads, there has been plenty of noteworthy individual performances.

Expect that trend to continue this season with nine area returning Division III state tournament qualifiers competing around the region this year.

Here’s a few things to watch as area grapplers gear up for the meat of the December portion of their schedules.

IMPRESSIVE START: Arcadia senior John Hill is off to a perfect start for the Redskins.

A three-time district qualifier who will be trying to win the 285-pound Blanchard Valley Conference crown for the fourth straight season, Hill has opened the season by winning titles at the Montpelier Ironhorse Invitational the opening weekend and asserted himself as a state meet contender with a 5-3 win, the 100th of his career, against Columbus Grove returning state qualifier Jeff Meyer to win the most valuable wrestler award at Saturday’s Arcadia Invitational.

He’ll face a tough test this weekend when the Redskins step up to wrestle in a Division I and II dominated Findlay Invitational on Saturday.

FINDLAY INVITE: Findlay High School will be hosting a new pool format tournament this weekend.

The young Trojans and Arcadia will be the local entrants in Saturday’s event that gets underway at 10 a.m.

Other schools scheduled to compete include Bellefontaine, Bowling Gree, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, Coldwater, Fairview, Sugarcreek Garaway, Cleveland John Adams, Lorain, Mansfield Senior, Norwalk, Ontario, Shelby, Sylvania Northview and Worthington Kilbourne.

NEW FACES: There are a number of new head coaches around the region but they certainly aren’t unfamiliar to area wrestling fans.

Elmwood grad Nick Davis has taken charge of the wrestling team at the school for longtime coach Dave Lee, who stepped down at the end of last season.

Lee, Ohio’s all-time leader in career dual meet victories with 540, is coaching at the junior high level this season. Davis has previous head coaching stints at Fostoria and Ottawa-Glandorf.

Eric Perkins is the new head coach at Ada. He spent last season as an assistant after serving as the head coach at Fostoria St. Wendelin.

Xavier Dye, a former state finalist for Patrick Henry who went on to wrestle at Division I Cleveland State, is new coach at his alma mater.

After serving an assistant, Chad Patterson is the new head coach at Hopewell-Loudon this season.

DATES TO REMEMBER: It’s a long 31/2 month season. Things won’t really ratchet up until around mid-January.

The first big tournament circled on most area teams’ schedules will be Jan. 18-19 when the 41st Van Buren Invitational takes place.

This year’s regional team tournament will be held on one day this year on Saturday Feb. 2. The state quarterfinals of the team tournament will take place Sunday, Feb. 10 at Ohio State’s St. John Arena.

Most league tournaments are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16.

District tournaments around the state will take place March 1-2 with the state tournament set for March 7-9 at Value City Arena.

No information was available on the team from McComb, who will get a late start due to the Panthers’ run to the Division VII state football championship. A look at each of the area’s programs are listed below.

Ada

HEAD COACH: Eric Perkins (1st year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: 3-7/4th in Northwest Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Colton Beiderman, soph., 113, 14-13; Cameron Bober, soph., 145; Reece Evans, jr., 152; Dillon Foster, jr., 126, 5-5; Carson Hissong, sr., 160; Tyler Onions, sr., 170.

TOP PROSPECTS: Jeremy Cameron, fr., 113; Niah Arnett, jr, 285; Brandon Paul, fr., 285; Carter Nelson, fr., 285.

NOTABLE: The Bulldogs lost their best wrestler in school history in state placer Chase Sumner, who’s now at Pitt. There’s also a new coach in charge at Ada as Eric Perkins, who was previously the head coach at Fostoria St. Wendelin, takes over.

Bluffton

HEAD COACH: Jeff Kleman (22nd year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 6-6/3rd in Northwest Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Deandre Nassar, sr. 195, 41-3, state placer; Jesse Montel, sr., 152; Landen Luginbuhl, jr., 220, 19-13; Tayton Kleman, soph., 106, 24-13; Jeremy Sturgeon, soph., 120, 22-17; Josh Mahaffie, soph, 138; Elijah Conley, soph., 145; Trent Pearson, soph., 152; Wyatt Gossard, soph., 126; Isaiah Schwab, sr., 170.

TOP PROSPECTS: Trent Howard, fr., 285; Dustin Mortimer, fr., 132; Elias Mault, fr., 126; Jackson Wilson, fr., 160; Kaden Basil, fr., 113.

NOTABLE: Nassar will be one of the state championship favorites in Division III at 195. Kleman, Sturgeon and Mahaffie are all returning district qualifiers for the Pirates.

Columbus Grove

HEAD COACH: Eric Siefker (11th year).

CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/2nd in Northwest Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Caleb Langhals, sr.; Dylan Pitts, sr.; Dylan Sargent, jr., 220, state qualifier; Dakota Sargent, jr., 195, district qualifier; Evan Schroeder, jr.; Justin Flanders, soph.; Tanner Blankemeyer, soph.; Ryan Bogart, sr.; Ezra Jones, soph.; Ian Langhals, soph.; Jeff Meyer, soph., 285, state qualifier.

TOP PROSPECTS: Evan Shroeder, jr.; Joe Roman, jr.; Daniel Bils, jr.; Clay Bonnell, fr.; Brock Sargent, fr.; Luke Kaufman, fr.; Neil Kettles fr.; Joe Kohli, fr.; Nicholas Wolverton, fr.

NOTABLE: The return of state Sargent and Meyer should give the Bulldogs solid scoring in the upper weights in every tournament this season. They Bulldogs may have enough depth to make a run at the school’s first NWC wrestling title.

Arcadia

HEAD COACH: Jerry Stone (3rd year).

2018 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 5-3/3rd in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kenneth Durst, sr., 170; John Hill, sr., 285, 38-6, district qualifier; Andrew Husted, sr., 182, 9-5; Wyatt Lucas, sr., 126, 31-12, district qualifier; Jordan McGowan, sr., 138; Jordan Marczak, jr., 132; Chase Distel, soph., 132; Bryan Harrison, soph., 132, 18-18, district qualifiers; John Snow, soph., 220; Ethan Smarr, soph., 170.

JAMIE BAKER / The Courier
CAREY’S TANNER MAY, left, looks for an opening against Patrick Henry’s T.J. Rhamy during a match at last year’s Division III state tournament. Rhamy and May, both juniors, are returning state placers this season.

TOP PROSPECTS: Brady Conine, fr., 182; Logan Crawford, fr., 113; Joseph Tardibouno, fr. 170; Isaac Tolento, fr., 113; Adrian Tolento, fr., 120.

NOTABLE: An experienced team that includes four district qualifiers return for the Redskins. John Hill will be trying to win his fourth BVC title at 285 pounds.

Cory-Rawson

HEAD COACH: Justin Parkins (12th year).

CONFERENCE FINISH: 6th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Logan Korpics, sr., 182; Jamey Miles, sr., 170; Tyler Stoodt, sr., 126; Owen Karcher, jr., 120; Deontae’ Davis, jr., 160; Justin Gibson, soph., 145; Drew Stewart, jr., 195; .

TOP PROSPECTS: Corey DeLeon, jr., 138; Nick Thompson, soph., 152; Luke George, fr., 138; Savoux Moore, fr., 126.

NOTABLE: Deontae’ Davis is a state tournament contender for the Hornets this season. He won a pair of district matches a year ago on his way to a 40-9 record.

Hopewell-Loudon

HEAD COACH: Chad Patterson (1st year).

CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Logan Holcomb, sr., 138; Levi Kuhn, jr., 182/195; Caleb Hinton, jr., 182; Dominic Kear, jr.; Caden Crawford, soph., 132, district qualifier; Kole Freeman, soph., 113, district qualifier; Blake Hoover, soph., 113; Aidan Sears, soph., 220.

TOP PROSPECTS: Preston Holman, fr.; Lance Crawford, fr.; Cooper Davidson, fr.; Nico Garcia, fr.; Isaac Gaietta, fr.

NOTABLE: The Chieftains are young with just one senior and nine freshmen and sophomores on the roster. The team does feature two of the BVC’s top wrestlers in Kole Freeman and Caden Crawford.

Liberty-Benton

HEAD COACH: Chad Marzec (1st year).

CONFERENCE FINISH: 2nd in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Justin Hartford, sr., 160, 21-20; Wesley Tressler, jr., 126, 17-9; Gavin Lapcevic, jr., 160; Dru Baker, soph., 132, 23-20; Matthew Berger, soph., 285; Luke Broerman, soph., 106, district qualifiers; Nathaniel DiRe, soph., 182, 29-15; Race Gorrell, soph., 170, 26-24, district qualifier; Dylan Mersch, soph., 182, 12-12; Greg Musselman, soph., 120; Riley Peterson, soph., 126, 8-11; Mason Richards, soph., 145.

TOP PROSPECTS: Camden Worstein, fr., 132; Brett Ogborn, fr., 152; Carter Oswalt, fr., 106.

NOTABLE: The Eagles have a pair of returning district qualifiers in Broerman and Gorrell. They finished second in the conference last season and with a 31-wrestler roster, the program is one the rise.

North Baltimore

HEAD COACH: Levi Garner (4th year).

CONFERENCE FINISHES: 7th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Levi Trout, jr., 145, 17-15; Zeth Johnson, jr., 152, 16-16; Santos Canales, sr., 160; Simon Sexton, sr., 170; Brendan Cotterman, sr., 182

TOP PROSPECTS: Kalyeah Powell, fr., 113; Darrian Zitzelberger, fr., 132; Brendan Woodward, fr., 126; Blayne Keller, sr., 195; Dalton Teaford, sr., 285; Jeremiah Suman, fr., 195.

NOTABLE: The Tigers lost their state tournament contender in David Patterson to graduation. Garner has 11 wrestlers to work with as he tries to build up the school’s wrestling program.

Riverdale

HEAD COACH: Duane Brodman (21st year).

CONFERENCE FINISH: 8th in the Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Miles Frey, sr., 152; Thane Gallegos, sr., 145, 23-15; Creed Blakely, sr., 182; Ethan Shane, jr., 171, 15-14.

TOP PROSPECTS: Austin Evans, fr., 126; Isaiah Orahood, fr., 106; Noah Hart, fr., 126; Colton Perkins, fr., 138; Ryan Nease, fr., 182; Ryman Miller, fr., 195; Konrad Shane, fr., 195; Derek Kleman, soph., 285; Cory Noblit, jr., 285.

NOTABLE: The Falcons lost their top two wrestlers from a year ago in Ethan Hayes and Wayne Frey, who combined for 55 wins a year ago. The future is bright, but it may take awhile as Brodman’s roster features nine freshmen this season.

Van Buren

HEAD COACH: Justin Slauterbeck (2nd year).

CONFERENCE FINISH: Blanchard Valley Conference champs.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dom Donaldson, sr., 160; Reece Young, sr., 195, 23-12; Andres Miranda, jr., 138, 23-18; Mateo Miranda, jr., 126, 23-20, district qualifier; Kaleb Snodgrass, jr., 220, 20-14, district qualifier; Cade Whitticar, jr., 182, 27-7, district qualifier; Dino Donaldson, soph., 120, 33-18, district qualifier; Grant Young, soph., 113, 29-18, district qualifier; Cody Snyder, soph..

TOP PROSPECTS: Owen Burge, fr.; Grant Conley, jr.; Eli Dilgard, jr.; Brendan McCauley, fr.; Connor McKee, sr.; Aiden Mowrey, fr.; A.J. Overmyer, jr.; Jordan Spoon, jr.; Dylan VanAtta, fr.; Nate Williamson, jr.

NOTABLE: Van Buren has eight letterwinners back, including five district qualfiers, as the Black Knights try to make it four BVC titles in a row.

Carey

HEAD COACH: Ryan Pratt (16th year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 7-6/4th in Northern 10 Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kadin Smiley, soph., 106/113, district qualifier; Reece Mullholand, jr., 120/126, district placer; Shawn Secresty, jr., 132/138; Trent Eggert, soph., 138/145; Jaden Pahl, jr., 138/145; Hayden Jacoby, jr., 152/160, district qualifier; A.J. Gernert, jr., 152/160; Kaiden Wentz, soph., 170; Tanner May, jr., 182/195, state placer; Ethan Schlack, sr., 285, district qualifier.

TOP PROSPECTS: Jayden Barney, jr,, 170; Noah Black, soph., 182/195; Hunter Noon, fr., 113; Lance Woods, fr., 126; Curtis Bauer, fr., 132/138; Jeremiah Patton, fr., 195; Isaac Carman, fr., 220/285; Drew Steen, fr., 285.

NOTABLE: With a young, but experienced team look for improvement from Carey this season. May was fifth at state a year ago while Mullholand was one match away from qualifying for state.

Mohawk

HEAD COACH: Nathan Lofay.

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 11-15/2nd in Northern 10 Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Caden Gurney, sr., 145, district qualifier; Grant Theis, jr., 182; Morgan Price, jr., 152, district qualifier; Austin England, jr., 152; James Clouse, soph., 220; Kaleb Leeth, soph., 195.

TOP PROSPECTS: Branyon Winings, soph.; Alex Theis, fr., 138; Nicholas Grasley, fr.; Owen England, fr., 120; Ryan Emshoff, fr.; Nathaniel Luhring, fr., 126

NOTABLE: The Warriors lost a solid group of seniors that included former state qualifiers Daniel Price and Parker Brown. The Warriors have a dozen wrestlers on the roster and sophomore James Clouse got off to a solid start by winning the Northwood Jim Derr Invitational to open the season.

Upper Sandusky

HEAD COACH: Noah Blankenship (5th year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 7-3/Northern 10 Conference champs.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ronan Gullifer, jr., 113, district qualifier; Brayzin McDaniel, jr., 126, district qualifier; Jaxon Passet, jr., 145; Ashton Shepherd, jr., 120; Garrett Thomas, jr., 138; Blake Herbert, soph., 170; Keith Sammet, soph., 126; Emery Pahl, soph., 138, district qualifier; Caleb Payne, soph., 113, district qualifier

TOP PROSPECTS: Brandon Geisey, jr., 195; Ethan Beidelschies, soph.; Payton Evener, soph.; Frank Depinet, fr., 106; RIchard Ebert, fr., 106; Aiden Gallant, fr., 153; 152; Braxton Johnson; Creighton Morton, fr., 220; Carson Van Horn, fr.

NOTABLE: It was another successful season at Upper Sandusky as the Rams won the Northern 10 Conference and advanced to the regional finals of the OHSAA team tournament before falling to eventual Division III state champion Genoa. There are no seniors on this year’s squad and the Rams also lost state placers Noah Clary (3rd at 182) and Connor Johnston (8th at 220) to graduation.

Elmwood

HEAD COACH: Nick Davis (1st year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 4th in Northern Buckeye Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jacob Corral, sr., 152; Corey Loera, sr., 138, district qualifier; A.J. Gallegos, sr., 195; Kain Brossia, sr., 285, state qualifier; Garrett Wright, sr., 170; Will Bechstein, jr., 220, district qualifier; Justin Houtz, jr., 220; Sanford Fraley, jr., 182, district qualifier; Cade Carter, jr., 160; Zane Hagemyer, soph., 195; Kaleb Loera, soph., 195; Konnor Logston, soph., 170; Connar Barringer, sr., 195.

TOP PROSPECTS: Gunner Endicott, fr., 145; Jonathan Patterson, soph., 120, district qualifier; Chy Cluck, sr., 106; Jesse Wise, fr., 120; Jaydon Jenkins, fr., 132; Gavin Mahler, fr., 152; Elijah Reynolds, soph., 160; Matt Myers, soph., 160; Colton Ickes, fr., 182; Mason Crum, fr., 285; Jonathan Bodnar, fr., 220.

NOTABLE: 25 wrestlers.

Fostoria

HEAD COACH: Justin Kiser (2nd year).

CONFERENCE FINISH: 8th in Northern Buckeye Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Noah Damschroder, jr., 152; Aaron Johnson, jr., 195; Roger Hall, jr., 220, district qualifier; Shawn Vilaisack, sr., 285.

TOP PROSPECTS: Chance Mason, sr., 138; Kayden Metzger, sr., 170; Jonah Paniagua, jr., 182; Caleb Dick, soph., 138; Demetrius Medlock, soph., 285; Jesse Hall, soph., 285.

NOTABLE: Roger Hall returns after a solid sophomore season for the Redmen as he earned a spot in last year’s Division III district tournament.

Lakota

HEAD COACH: Rob Timmons.

CONFERENCE FINISH: 11th in Sandusky Bay Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Trevor Franks, jr., 160, state qualifier; Lane Paul, jr., 138; Jamyn Bartson, jr., 182; John Jacquot, sr., 160.

TOP PROSPECTS: Austin Witte, fr., 145; Spencer Franks, fr., 170; Charles Thomas, jr., 195; Austin Weaver, jr., 113.

NOTABLE: The Raiders were hit hard by graduation with seven senior starters lost from last year’s team. Trevor Franks is back though after winning a match at state a year ago.

Tiffin Calvert

HEAD COACH: Paul Shoemaker (2nd year).

CONFERENCE FINISH: 17th in Sandusky Bay Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Parker Beard, jr., 195; Aidan Wilson, jr.,126/132, district qualifier.

TOP PROSPECTS: Jace Wilson, fr., 106/113; Lucas Immele, soph.; Brayden Prenzlin, jr.; Ian Starn, sr., 145/152

NOTABLE: The Senecas lost their top wrestler, state qualifier Connor Kwiat, to graduation. Wilson does return and is probably Calvert’s best bet to have success in the difficult SBC and in the postseason.

Ottawa-Glandorf

HEAD COACH: Randy Ebbeskotte (3rd year).

CONFERENCE FINISH: 2nd in Western Buckeye League.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Danny Rosales, sr., 182, state placer; Matt Schmersal, 195, district qualifier; Evan Ellerbrock, sr., 138, district qualifier; Isaac Hernandez, sr., 132, district qualifier.

TOP PROSPECTS: Owen Thomas, fr., 126; Michael Basinger, fr., 106.

NOTABLE: After a tremendous run the last few years, including Daniel Beemer winning the school’s state title a year ago, the Titans have just six wrestlers on the roster. There is some talent though, Rosales is a state placer and two-time state qualifier while three other O-G seniors are returning district qualifiers.

Patrick Henry

HEAD COACH: Xavier Dye (1st year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: 0-7/7th in Northwest Ohio Athletic League.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Anthony Meyer, soph., 126; Corey Hatcher, sr., 132; Josafat Hinojosa, sr., 145; A.J. Healy, sr., 160; T.J. Rhamy, jr., 170, state placer; Josh Stout, jr., 182; Wil Morrow, jr., 182, state placer; Jose Bejarano, soph., 220.

TOP PROSPECTS: Makayla Kern, fr., 106; Hailey Book, fr., 113; Behnjamin Petersen, soph., 138; Mason Rowe, soph., 138; Addison Vance, fr., 145; Harley Cole, soph., 152; Ethan Spratt, sr., 182; Trent Shively, soph., 195; Chase Gilson, fr., 195; Cam Gebers, sr., 285.

NOTABLE: Much better numbers at Patrick Henry with 18 wrestlers as Xavier Dye, a PH grad, takes charge of the program. With two returning state placers in the wrestling room look for rapid improvement for the Patriots as a team this year and next.

Baker, 419-427-8409

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