By JAMIE BAKER
VAN BUREN — Arcadia’s Wyatt Lucas is the hunter.
Van Buren’s Kaleb Snodgrass has turned into the hunted.
Both wrestlers have their sights set on a championship weekend after they reached the semifinals during Friday night’s action at the 41st Van Buren Invitational.
Lucas rolled to a pair of easy wins on the first day of the 30-team tournament. He whipped Ottawa-Glandorf’s Owen Thomas 12-1 in the first round and held off Galion’s Devin McCarthy 5-3 in the 126-pound quarterfinals.
Lucas placed at the VBI for the first time last season, although, it was a weekend he probably wants to forget. He broke his thumb during the tournament and was forced to default to sixth place.
The injury sidelined him for a month, and he was unable to step back on the mat until sectionals. He won a sectional title, but the three-time district qualifier wasn’t sharp enough to advance from a rugged weight class at the Defiance District.
“I’m usually pretty nervous here in my first match. Not today; this was different. I want to win this weekend,” said Lucas, who improved his record this season to 30-3.
“If I win here at Van Buren, I think that proves I’m state-worthy. Winning here would be a major confidence boost, and it might intimidate some other guys I’ll face down the road.”
Prep athletes have more of a sense of urgency as they prep for their senior year. Lucas can testify to that. He didn’t attend camps or add extra workouts to his regimen — until this year as a senior.
“Every night I do a few miles on the treadmill, and I went to camps and have been working out extra,” Lucas said. “I never did that before this year. I just have to keep pushing myself, because I want to get to state.
“At some point it hits you that it’s your last season out here,” he added.
Snodgrass, meanwhile, set himself up for a chance at a championship today.
The Van Buren junior ran his record to 19-3 by pinning Liberty-Benton’s Caleb Pierre in 50 seconds and beating Otsego’s Cade Limes 7-2 in the quarterfinals.
He turned some heads by coming out of the seventh-seed spot to convincingly win the 220-pound crown at last week’s Perrysburg Invitational Tournament.
Last weekend, for Snodgrass, all his hard work had been rewarded.
“It was a big deal to win at Perrysburg last week. I felt relieved to show people how good of a wrestler I can be,” he said. “I was able to beat some kids that were ranked ahead of me and I think I got a little bit of respect.”
Last week’s win undoubtedly helped him get the No. 2 VBI seed in his weight class. Snodgrass reached the VBI semifinals last season before dropping three straight matches to end up sixth.
A year bigger, more experience and mat savvy, Snodgrass doesn’t want that to happen again.
“I never try and look to far ahead. I like to take it one match at a time and go from there. If you look ahead, that’s when you get beat,” Snodgrass said.
“It would be a dream, an absolute honor to win the VBI and represent my school and community in the final. If I get the opportunity, I’m going to go after it.”
Snodgrass will have to get by neighborhood nemesis Will Bechstein from Elmwood, for the second straight week, to make the 220-pound title bout.
ACCORDING TO HOYLE: There were no upsets in the much-anticipated 182-pound division.
Carey’s Tanner May (22-0) and Ottawa-Glandorf’s Danny Rosales (17-2), both returning state placers, will wrestle in one semifinal. Bluffton’s DeAndre Nassar (20-0), a state medalist last season at 195, will take on Mohawk’s Kaleb Leeth (16-4) in the other semi.
The winners will meet later in the day for the championship. Despite having four state medals between them, none of the three area standouts has ever won a VBI title.
DIFFICULT DEFAULT: It was a tough opening round for Cory-Rawson’s Deontae Davis. The Hornets’ 170-pound standout led Allen East’s Ethan Boday 10-6 when he went to the mat hard while giving up a takedown.
During the injury timeout, medical personnel examined Davis and he was forced to unwillingly default the match.
It was just his second loss in 20 matches this season.
RISE & SHINE: Trying to beat the bulk of today’s predicted snowfall, the tournament will resume today bright and early beginning at 9 a.m. with a combination consolation and championship semifinal round.
The tournament will run straight through — with no breaks — through the finals matches.
1, 1, Eastwood 98. 2, Gibsonburg 84. 3, Elmwood 81. 4, Arcadia 71½. 5, Allen East 66. 6, Swanton 64½. 7, Mohawk 61. 8, Otsego 58½. 9, Wayne Trace 58. 10, Columbus Grove 57. 11, Seneca East 50½. 12, Bluffton 50. 13, Galion 46½. 14, Ottawa-Glandorf & Sandusky St. Mary’s 46. 16, Van Buren 44½. 17, Carey & Liberty-Benton 40. 19, McComb 25. 20, Lakota 23½. 21, Cory-Rawson & Hopewell-Loudon 23. 23, Riverdale 20. 24, North baltimore 15. 25, Fremont St. Joseph 13. 26, Ada 9. 27, Pandora-Gilboa 5½. 28, Tiffin Calvert 4. 29, Lincolnview 3. 30, Fostoria 2.
TODAY’S SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS
106 — Gavin Owens (Eastwood) 28-0 vs. Tayton Kleman (Bluffton) 15-2; Jarrett Hornish (Wayne Trace) 19-2 vs. Will Blevins (Sandusky St. Mary’s) 16-1.
113 — Jake Manley (Otsego) 22-1 vs. Hunter Lacy (Seneca East) 18-5; Bryce Maynard (Eastwood) 23-4 vs. Riley Prosser (Sandusky St. Mary’s) 19-2.
120 — Hunter Long (Wayne Trace) 23-0 vs. Reece Mullholand (Carey) 18-3; Drake Carmean (Allen East) 20-1 vs. Brandon Hahn (Eastwood) 24-1.
126 — Zack Schaller (Swanton) 21-4 vs. Xavier Escobedo (Eastwood) 24-6; Caden Crawford (Hopewell-Loudon) 21-4 vs. Wyatt Lucas (Arcadia) 30-3.
132 — Isaac Hernandez (Ottawa-Glandorf) 16-1 vs. David Gacia (Gibsonburg) 14-3; Dru Baker (Liberty-Benton) 19-8 vs. Mason Glaze (Eastwood) 26-4.
138 — Teryn DeBold (Seneca East) 2-0 vs. Brenden Ganshorn (Galion) 23-5; Caden Gurney (Mohawk) 15-5 vs. Wil Roth (Sandusky St. Mary’s) 21-3.
145 — Gunner Endicott (Elmwood) 17-6 vs. Chase Miller (Allen East) 19-4; Bryce Wise (Seneca East) 18-2 vs. Jesse Wright (Otsego) 22-5.
152 — Ryan Marvin (Swanton) 22-1 vs. Morgan Price (Mohawk)12-5; Jacob Corral (Elmwood) 19-7 vs. Jimmy Recknagel (Eastwood) 28-7
160 — Trevor Franks (Lakota) 18-1 vs. Andrew Smith (McC) 9-2; Wyatt Stabler (Wayne Trace) 21-3 vs. Brady Jaso (Gibsonburg) 22-4.
170 — Brad Mendoza (Gibsonburg) 19-1 vs. Eli Moore (Wayne Trace) 15-8; Cole Steele (Otsego) 17-7 vs. Garrett Wright (Elmwood) 27-6.
182 — DeAndre Nassar (Bluffton) 20-0 vs. Kaleb Leeth (Mohawk) 17-4; Danny Rosales (Ottawa-Glandorf) 18-2 vs. Tanner May (Carey) 22-0.
195 — Garrett Neth (Allen East) 7-0 vs. Dakota Sargent (Columbus Grove) 2-0; Matt Schmersal (Ottawa-Glandorf) 16-6 vs. Jarett Spoores (Gibsonburg) 23-3.
220 — Dylan Sargent (Columbus Grove) 25-3 vs. Brice Markel (McC) 5-0; Will Bechstein (Elmwood) 23-7 vs. Kaleb Snodgrass (Van Buren) 19-3.
285 — Noah Price (Fremont St. Joseph) 25-0 vs. Jeff Meyer (Columbus Grove) 27-3; John Hill (Arcadia) 32-2 vs. Kain Brossia (Elmwood) 22-2.