By JAMIE BAKER
It’s been three long years since the Blanchard Valley Conference has been represented at the OHSAA Division III state wrestling tournament.
There are a handful of BVC wrestlers this season that are determined to break through.
They’ll get the chance to begin that quest to wrestle in Columbus when OHSAA sectional wrestling tournaments begin around the state on Friday.
The last two BVC wrestlers to wrestle at Value City Arena was Hopewell-Loudon’s Damion Vitt (160) and Van Buren’s Nick Devore (220) back in 2016.
The last state champion from school in the BVC at the time was Arcadia’s Brian Brooks, the 175-pound Class A champion in 1981.
To win state, though, you have to get there.
Cory-Rawson junior Deontae’ Davis is one of the four BVC wrestlers with state tournament dreams. Davis and the Hornets will compete in the Division III sectional at Lima Central Catholic, which will begin at 6 p.m. Friday.
“Getting to state, that’s my main goal. It’s been something, I’ve wanted to do growing up in the sport since I was six years old,” Davis said Saturday after winning his second BVC title at 160 pounds.
“Being a state champion that’s everyone’s goal. Win state, go to college and win a national title.”
Davis has racked up a 26-4 record for the Hornets this season. He thinks he’s come a long way mentally since last year’s postseason experience.
“I think I’m a different wrestler than I was last year. I’m a lot more mature and I handle things differently than I have in the past,” Davis said.
“I’ve learned a lot from my losses this year. I always have to keep up the pressure. In the matches I lost, I lost focus and I wasn’t attacking as much as I should have been. I have to push the pace.
“I just have to relax and have fun and enjoy the moment. If you’re not having fun the train will go off the tracks,” he added.
This year’s postseason will take on a bit more urgency for Arcadia senior John Hill.
He’s qualified for districts all three years but has never been able to crack the top four and qualify for state.
With a 41-3 record this season and more than 100 career victories to his credit, he knows what he needs to do. The time has come to show what he can do.
“Next week is when the grind begins. It’s a mind game now. It’s a tough time of year, you have to be ready for every match and once you get to districts you really have to be prepared, because it’s the toughest tournament of the year,” Hill said.
“It’s my senior year, my last chance. I’ve worked harder this year than ever in practice and I want to go out wrestling at state.”
Lucas, also a senior, is 35-3 at 126 pounds. Snodgrass, meanwhile, the top wrestler on the BVC team champion Van Buren squad, enters the postseason with a 33-3 mark as a junior.
LOCAL FLAVOR: The Division III sectional at Van Buren features an all-area field.
The tournament, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday and will resume on Saturday at 10 a.m., will feature Arcadia, Tiffin Calvert, Carey, Elmwood, Fostoria, Hopewell-Loudon, Lakota, Liberty-Benton, McComb, Mohawk, North Baltimore, Patrick Henry, Riverdale and Van Buren.
Three returning state placers, Carey’s Tanner May (182) and Patrick Henry’s T.J. Rhamy (160) and Wil Morrow (195), will compete at Van Buren.
Two other returning state qualifiers, Elmwood’s Kain Brossia (285) and Lakota’s Trevor Franks (160), will also be in the field.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class qualify for next week’s Division III district at Lakota.
TROJAN TIME: Findlay High School will face a tougher sectional field than they have in the past.
The Northwest District, in Division I, has gone from two sectionals to one 14-team event, set for Friday at 5 p.m. at Oregon Clay.
Anthony Wayne, Toledo Bowsher, Oregon Clay, Fremont Ross, Perrysburg, Springfield, Toledo St. Francis, Toledo St. John’s, Toledo Start, Sylvania Northview, Sylvania Southview, Toledo Waite and Toledo Whitmer will also compete with the Trojans.
The top four in each weight class qualify for next week’s Division I district tournament at Mentor.
Two FHS juniors have seemed to set themselves up for success this weekend. Jonah Smith will a 37-7 record into the weekend after winning his 100th career match in claiming the 138-pound Three Rivers Athletic Conference crown last weekend.
Jake Noon is 31-7 after winning the TRAC title at 220 pounds.
HEADED SOUTH: Cory-Rawson won’t be the only area team competing in the Division III sectional at Lima Central Catholic.
Ottawa-Glandorf, Columbus Grove and Bluffton all have strong individual competitors and will compete at LCC along with Ada and the Hornets.
The top four in each weight class at LCC qualify for next week’s Division III district tournament at Troy.
SATURDAY ONLY: Upper Sandusky will compete in the Saturday only Division II sectional tournament at Clyde.
Tiffin Columbian and Bellevue appear to be the top teams at that sectional site.
Upper Sandusky’s Brayzin McDaniel is seeded third in the 138-pound weight class with a 17-7 record.
The top four finishers at Clyde advance to next week’s Division II district tournament at Norwalk.