By JAMIE BAKER
Four was the magic number at Saturday’s Blanchard Valley Conference wrestling tournament.
As in four straight team titles for Van Buren and four consecutive 285-pound championships for Arcadia senior John Hill.
There were some questions whether the Black Knights had what it took to win the league for the fourth straight year.
Coach Justin Slauterbeck’s crew put that question to rest, winning eight semifinal matches and taking control of the team race.
“We had kids step up and finally wrestle to their potential. They came up big. We have been working for this all season,” said Slauterbeck, who was named the BVC Coach of the Year.
“We wrestle a lot better in tournaments. Our kids get up for these tournaments, especially the BVC. We have trouble with duals. It’s just not the same for our kids.”
The Black Knights finished with a 168½-149 margin over Liberty-Benton.
Mateo Miranda (120 pounds), Dino Donaldson (132), Jordan Spoon (138), Grant Young (145) and A.J. Overmyer (160) lost in the championship matches in their respective weight classes before a Van Buren wrestler finally broke through.
Senior Reece Young won the first of two crowns for the Black Knights when he stopped Pandora-Gilboa’s Hayden Blank 6-4 in the 195-pound final.
At 220, junior Kaleb Snodgrass made it back-to-back titles and ran his record to 33-3 by pinning returning champ Brice Markel of McComb in 4:46.
Despite winning the league three straight years, Van Buren came in with an underdog mentality. There was plenty of fight in those dogs, though.
“We told them teams and people were doubting us, thinking this is the year we were going to lose it. We pounded them about it the last couple of weeks,” Slauterbeck said.
“We wanted the kids to know we’re Van Buren and this is what we do in the BVC. And today, they took care of it.”
Hill, the BVC’s Wrestler of the Year, was one of three champions for third place Arcadia.
And it was a milestone day for the Redskins’ senior heavyweight as he became just the second four-time BVC wrestling champion when he took pinned Van Buren freshman Dylan VanAtta in the finals in 3:05.
“Personally, it means the world to win the BVC four times. When I started, I never imagined getting this far. My freshman year when I won, it kind of inspired me to want to get this as a goal,” said Hill, who will enter the OHSAA postseason with a 41-3 record.
Hill wasn’t seeded when he won his first BVC crown as a freshman. Since then, he’s gone from hunter, to hunted.
“Since then, my freshman year, there’s been a giant target on my back. Everyone always wants to beat the person who was the champ the year before, especially in the BVC,” Hill said. “That’s just made me work that much harder to get better.”
Arcadia’s Wyatt Lucas eked out a 4-3 win against Hopewell-Loudon’s Caden Crawford to win at 126 pounds and improve his record to 35-3.
Jordan McGowan won at 138 for the Redskins by pinning Van Buren’s Jordan Spoon in 5:39.
Liberty-Benton, which was hoping to win the school’s first league mat title, also finished the day with three champions.
Luke Broerman scored a 12-2 major decision against Arcadia’s Adrian Tolento at 106 pounds to get the finals started for the host Eagles.
Dru Baker used a takedown and 2-point nearfall at the buzzer to upend Van Buren’s Dino Donaldson for the 132-pound crown.
Nathan DiRe won at 182 pounds with an 8-0 major decision against North Baltimore’s Brendon Cotterman.
Hopewell-Loudon, which was competing in its last BVC tournament before moving to the Sandusky Bay Conference next year, and Cory-Rawson also had multiple league champs.
Blake Hoover and Lance Crawford won back-to-back titles for the Chieftains. Hoover knocked off Liberty-Benton’s Greg Musselman 2-0 at 113 pounds. Crawford followed with an 8-2 victory against Miranda in the 120-pound title bout.
The Hornets’ crowns came consecutively as well.
Deontae’ Davis won his second straight BVC crown by pinning Van Buren’s AJ Overmyer in 3:03 of the 160-pound final. Logan Korpics won the title at 170 with a 19-7 win against Liberty-Benton’s Race Gorrell.
For Davis, his second straight title pushed his season record to 26-4 entering next week’s sectional.
“I just wanted to get it done quick. I wasn’t doing so well at that earlier in the season. I was working on my takedowns so today I wanted to make sure and execute on my pins,” Davis said.
“There’s no time for messing around. At this time of year, you never know if this could be your last match.”
McComb’s Andrew Smith and Riverdale’s Miles Frey were the BVC’s other champions.
Smith doubled up Liberty-Benton’s Brett Ogborn 8-4 at 160 pounds and Frey pinned Van Buren’s Grant Young in 2:33 in the 145-pound championship.
1, Van Buren 168½. 2, Liberty-Benton 149. 3, Arcadia 109½. 4, Cory-Rawson 90. 5, Hopewell-Loudon 81½. 6, McComb 46. 7, North Baltimore 43. 8, Riverdale 31. 9, Pandora-Gilboa 18.
106 — Broerman (L-B) maj. dec. Tolento (Arc) 12-2
113 — Hoover (H-L) dec. Musselman (L-B) 2-0
120 — L. Crawford (H-L) dec. M. Miranda (VB) 8-2
126 — Lucas (Arc) dec. C. Crawford (H-L) 4-3
132 — Baker (L-B) dec. D. Donaldson (VB) 6-4
138 — McGowan (Arc) pinned Spoon (VB) 5:39
145 — Frey (Riv) pinned G. Young (VB) 2:33
152 — Smith (McC) dec. Ogborn (L-B) 8-4
160 — Davis (C-R) pinned Overmyer (VB) 3:03
170 — Korpics (C-R) maj. dec. Gorrell (L-B) 19-7
182 — DiRe (L-B) maj. dec. Cotterman (NB) 8-0
195 — R. Young (VB) dec. Blank (P-G) 6-4
220 — Snodgrass (VB) pinned Markel (McC) 4:46
285 — Hill (Arc) pinned VanAtta (VB) 3:05
THIRD PLACE MATCHES
113 — Crawford (Arc) pinned Mowrey (VB) 2:04.
120 — Tressler (VB) pinned Karcher (C-R) 2:27
126 — A. Miranda (VB) tech. fall Schloemp (L-B) 16-1
132 — Freeman (H-L) pinned Stoodt (C-R) 3:58
138 — Gallegos (Riv) dec. Trout (NB) 4-2
145 — Garcia (H-L) dec. Thompson (C-R) 8-2
152 — Snyder (VB) dec. Gibson (C-R) 7-3
160 — Johnson (NB) pinned Smarr (Arc) 2:41
170 — Conine (Arc) dec. Hinton (H-L) 4-2
182 — Miles (C-R) pinned Do. Donaldson (VB) 4:00
195 — Mersch (L-B) dec. Stewart (C-R) 3-1
220 — Pierre (L-B) pinned Suman (NB) 2:34
285 — Berger (L-B) pinned Franks (McC) 1:26