Gibsonburg’s Brad Mendoza, right, tries to finish a double-leg takedown on Elmwood’s Garrett Wright during the 170-pound championship match at Saturday’s Van Buren Invitational. (Photo by Jamie Baker)

By JAMIE BAKER

SPORTS EDITOR

VAN BUREN — No one was really expecting Liberty-Benton sophomore Dru Baker to make the Van Buren Invitational finals at 132 pounds.

Still, he thought he had a shot in his match against Ottawa-Glandorf’s Isaac Hernandez.

“I always come into every match thinking I have a chance, no matter what. Anyone can beat anybody,” Baker said after losing to Hernandez via a first-period pin in the title match.

Baker wasn’t the only Eagle to net a spot on the awards stand.

Nathaniel DiRe was third at 182 pounds while Luke Broerman (106) and Race Gorrell (170) were both sixth.

Coach Chad Marzec’s Eagles are a work in progress with just one senior in a lineup that is otherwise all sophomores and freshmen.

“We work really hard in the room and we’re pushing it to the limit. We’ve had a little success this year, and we’re really trying to build the program from the ground up,” Baker said.

TRAVEL TROUBLES: The wintry weather caused five teams to withdraw from the tournament Saturday.

Before the snow even started, administrators at Carey, Mohawk, Seneca East and Galion banned Saturday travel for all of their athletic teams.

Carey’s coaches came with a few of their wrestlers on their own to watch Saturday’s action.

Carey’s Reece Mullholand (120) and Tanner May (182), and Mohawk’s Caden Gurney (138), Morgan Price (152) and Kaleb Leeth (182) had all reached the semifinals and were unable to participate on Saturday.

Lincolnview, which had one wrestler remaining after Friday’s action, also didn’t return.

Winter weather has never caused the tournament to be postponed during its 41-year run. The only weather problems occurred in 1997 when Seneca East and Coldwater were unable to return to the second day of the tournament because of inclement weather.

ON EAGLES’ WINGS: Eastwood had little trouble winning this year’s team title.

The Eagles got titles from Gavin Owens (106) and Brandon Hahn (120) and three runner-up finishes to outscore Allen East 210-150 for the team crown.

Locally, Elmwood was the top area team as they topped Bluffton 149-1351/2 for third place.

NO SWEAT: Sandusky St. Mary’s Wil Roth didn’t break a sweat Saturday — literally.

With the withdrawal of Galion, Mohawk and Seneca East, three of the four semifinalists at 138 pounds were out of the tournament. That left Roth, a senior with a 23-3 record, as the only wrestler remaining in the championship bracket. He won his semifinal and final matches by forfeit, winning the VBI crown at the weight without even wrestling a match on Saturday.

BLACK KNIGHTS BOUNCE BACK: Host Van Buren bounced back from a tough first day to end up 12th in the team standings.

In addition to Kaleb Snodgrass’ win at 220 pounds, Reece Young (195) was third and A.J. Overmyer (160) ended up sixth. Van Buren won matches in 11 of 12 weight classes during the weekend.

WRESTLING REDSKINS: Arcadia slipped a few spots on Saturday, but the Redskins were still the best of the Blanchard Valley Conference teams in the tournament, finishing eighth with 1061/2 points.

Wyatt Lucas won at 126 pounds and John Hill was third in a difficult 285-pound weight class to lead Arcadia.

Other placers from the BVC included: Cory-Rawson’s Tyler Stoodt (5th at 126), McComb’s Andrew Smith (14th at 160) and Brice Markel (6th at 220), Hopewell-Loudon’s Kole Freeman (3rd at 132) and Caden Crawford (4th at 126) and Riverdale’s Miles Frey (4th at 145).

The BVC tournament will take place Feb. 16 at Liberty-Benton.

Baker, 419-427-8409

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