By JAMIE BAKER
VAN BUREN — A lot of fans had already headed for home, trying to beat the snow, when the best finals matches of the day were taking place near the conclusion of the 41st Van Buren Invitational on Saturday.
Bluffton’s DeAndre Nassar earned the Most Valuable Wrestler award with an overtime win against Ottawa-Glandorf’s Danny Rosales at 182 pounds, and Van Buren’s Kaleb Snodgrass scored a last-second takedown to win at 220 pounds to highlight the finals.
A total of six area wrestlers won titles as Arcadia’s Wyatt Lucas (126), Ottawa-Glandorf’s Isaac Hernandez (132), Lakota’s Trevor Franks (160) and Elmwood’s Gunner Endicott (145) also captured individual titles.
Nassar, a fourth-place finisher at state a year ago at 195, defeated Rosales, also a returning state placer, by an identical 3-1 overtime score in the final of the Defiance Border War Tournament a month ago.
Saturday’s match was tied at 1-1, with each wrestler scoring an escape during regulation and doing little on their feet. Nassar, now 22-0 on the season, shot in for a double-leg takedown try just seconds into the one-minute overtime period. He finished the move and ended the match with the two-point move just 12 seconds into the extra session.
“I waited a little too long to do my thing. That shot was there the whole time. I kind of got reamed out by my coaches after the match,” Nassar said. “I just didn’t feel very confident during the match and I figured it was time to get it done in overtime.”
With the win, Nassar took care of some unfinished business. He’d never won a VBI title until Saturday.
“It’s nice to finally win this one. I’ve been close a couple of times. Last year I got hurt and my sophomore year I got hip tossed in the semis. It’s my last year so I want to go out with wins in all of these tournaments,” said Nassar, who will be looking for his first title at the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbird Tournament next week.
Snodgrass could very well have earned the tournament’s MVW award as well with his finals performance.
Columbus Grove’s returning state qualifier Dylan Sargent scored an escape in the second period to take a 1-0 lead against Snodgrass. And that’s where the score remained until Snodgrass scored a takedown on a desperation throw at the buzzer to pull out a dramatic 2-1 win.
The success rate on last-second throws, especially against a wrestler as good as Sargent, is miniscule.
“It was one of those things where he was giving me pressure the whole match. He’s a good opponent with really good hips. I knew it probably wasn’t going to work, but I went for it anyway,” Snodgrass said.
“Last second, I realized his arm was still up and I hit a quick duck under and that was it. It wasn’t the plan, but it worked. It was crazy.”
Snodgrass (21-3) avenged losses he suffered in last year’s VBI to Sargent and Elmwood’s Will Bechstein en route to the title. But it was winning on his home mat in front of all of his teammates, friends and family that made Saturday truly special.
“This was great today. It’s an awesome feeling to win here. With all the support I get from my friends and family, it doesn’t get any better than this. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world right now.”
Four other area grapplers also claimed individual crowns.
Arcadia senior Lucas was locked in a tight bout with Eastwood’s Xavier Escobedo when he took Escobedo to his back late for a pin with one second remaining in the 126-pound title match.
Not exactly a thing of beauty, but a win is a win in the VBI finals.
“It was a tough match all the way up until the end. He went for a desperation move and I caught him for the pin,” said Lucas, who improved his record to 32-3.
“I should have won a couple of matches a little easier, but I’m pretty satisfied how things turned out today.”
Ottawa-Glandorf’s Hernandez also scored a pin in 1:59 against Liberty-Benton’s Dru Baker in the 132-pound final to lead the way for the Titans.
The win by Hernandez was just the latest in a solid run at the VBI for the Titans over the past few years.
“Last year the seniors set a good foundation, a good mindset for us. They showed us hard work pays off. They’ve paved the way for us,” Hernandez said.
Baker “held on for awhile and was fast. He was quick, give him props. I don’t even think he was seeded, so I really didn’t know what to expect,” Hernandez added about his finals bout.
Lakota junior Franks also won his first VBI crown. Franks jumped out to a 4-1 first-period lead on his way to a 7-3 victory against Gibsonburg’s Brady Jaso.
Franks, a state qualifier for the Raiders last season, controlled the tempo of the match and seemingly had Jaso on his heels the entire match.
Confidence has been the key to Franks’ 20-1 start this season.
“I have been working hard and I just think I have the edge on people this year,” Franks said. “I went to state last year, and when I didn’t place, I was crushed. That experience has made me work that much harder this season and it’s showing up out on the mat.”
Elmwood freshman Endicott eked out a 3-2 win against Otsego’s Jesse Wright to claim the 145-pound championship.
Endicott, now 19-6, helped the Royals to a third-place finish in the 30-team field.
Teammates Garrett Wright (170) and Kain Brossia (285) added runner-up finishes for the Royals.
1, Eastwood 210. 2, Allen East 150. 3, Elmwood 149. 4, Bluffton 135½. 5, Swanton 127½. 6, Gibsonburg 127. 7, Otsego 115½. 8, Arcadia 106½. 9, Columbus Grove 101. 10, Sandusky St. Mary’s 98½. 11, Wayne Trace 98. 12, Van Buren 85½. 13, Liberty-Benton & Ottawa-Glandorf 81. 15, Mohawk 61. 16, Seneca East 50½. 17, Hopewell-Loudon 47. 18, Galion 46½. 19, Cory-Rawson 43½. 20, Lakota 41. 21, Carey 40. 22, Riverdale 39. 23, McComb 31½. 24, Fremont St. Joseph 30. 25, North Baltimore 18. 26, Ada 9. 27, Pandora-Gilboa 8½. 28, Tiffin Calvert 4. 29, Lincolnview 3. 30, Fostoria 2.
106 — Owens (East) dec. Hornish (WT) 10-6
113 — Manley (Ots) maj. dec. Maynard (East) 14-1
120 — Hahn (East) dec. Long (WT) 9-4
126 — Lucas (Arc) pinned Escobedo (East) 5:59
132 — Hernandez (O-G) pinned Baker (L-B) 1:59
138 — Roth (SSM) won by forfeit
145 — Endicott (Elm) dec. Wright (Ots) 3-2
152 — Marvin (Swan) maj. dec. Recknagel (East) 19-6
160 — Franks (Lak) dec. Jaso (Gib) 3-2
170 — Mendoza (Gib pinned Wright 5:54
182 — Nassar (Blu) dec. Rosales (O-G) 3-1 OT
195 — Neth (AE) pinned Spoores (Gib) 3:13
220 — Snodgrass (VB) dec. Dy. Sargent (CG) 2-1
285 — Price (FSJ) dec. Brossia (Elm) 6-0
106 — Blevins (SSM) dec. Kleman (Blu) 6-3
113 — Ri. Prosser (SSM) dec. Basil (Blu) 7-6
120 — Carmean (AE) tech. fall Sturgeon (Blu) 18-3
126 — Schaller (Swan) dec. C. Crawford (H-L) 6-0
132 — Freeman (H-L) dec. Glaze (East) 2-0
138 — Jankowski (East) dec. Kress (Ots) 4-1
145 — Miller (AE) by default over Frey (Riv)
152 — Hershberger (AE) dec. Pitts (CG) 6-3
160 — Stabler (WT) pinned Smith (McC) 1:37
170 — Steele (Ots) dec. Moore (WT) 8-5 OT
182 — DiRe (L-B) dec. Fraley (Elm) 7-3
195 — R. Young (VB) dec. Schmersal (O-G) 4-3
220 — Bechstein (Elm) dec. Luginbuhl (Blu) 8-2
285 — Hill (Arc) dec. Davies (AE) 4-2
106 — Kennedy (AE) pinned Broerman (L-B) 4:31
113 — Laplante (Swan) by forfeit over Lacy (SE)
120 — Fetter (SSM) by forfeit over Mullholand (Car)
126 — Stoodt (C-R) tech. fall Ry. Prosser (SSM)
132 — Mortimer (Blu) by forfeit over Garcia (Gib)
138 — Double forfeit
145 — Kwiatkowski (East) by forfeit over Wise (SE)
152 — Corral (Elm) by forfeit over Price (Moh)
160 — Saunders (Swan) maj. dec. Overmyer (VB) 16-3
170 — Jones (CG) pinned Gorell (L-B) 3:32
182 — Double forfeit
195 — Cass (Swan) dec. Da. Sargent (CG) 4-2
220 — Nissen (East) by default over Markel (McC)
285 — Meyer (CG) by default over Stevens (Swan)