Carey’s Tanner May, right, looks to escape the hold of Bluffton’s DeAndre Nassar during last season’s Division III 182-pound state title match at the OHSAA state tournament at Value City Arena. May, who lost the match to finish as runner-up, is one of the top returning area wrestlers this season. (Photo by Jamie Baker)

By MICHAEL BURWELL

SPORTS EDITOR

Expect big things from some big-time wrestlers again this season.

For the past two years, a state champion has come from a team in The Courier’s coverage area. And there’s a pretty good chance there could be another one this year.

Six state placers, including a pair of runner-up finishers, and 10 state qualifiers overall headline a strong group of returnees for the 2019-20 season.

Carey senior Tanner May, the Division III state runner-up at 182 pounds and a three-time top-six finisher at state, and Van Buren senior Kaleb Snodgrass, the 220-pound state runner-up in Division III last season, are the top two returners.

Here’s a few things to watch as the prep wrestling season enters its second weekend:

LOOKING FOR MORE HARDWARE: May and Snodgrass will be joined by some impressive company who are searching for higher finishes at the state tournament.

Patrick Henry’s senior duo of Wil Morrow and T.J. Rhamy, two key members of the Patriots’ state final four Division VII football team this past season, finished third at 220 and fourth at 160, respectively, at last year’s state tournament.

Elmwood’s Will Bechstein (fourth at state at 220) and Columbus Grove’s Jeff Meyer (sixth at state at 285) also return to lead their respective teams.

RETURN TO COLUMBUS?: A pair of Blanchard Valley Conference performers will vie for a second state berth as Cory-Rawson’s Deontae’ Davis (160) and Liberty-Benton’s Nathaniel DiRe (182) reached the Division III tournament.

LUCKY NO. 182: The past two state champs from The Courier’s coverage area have been from the 182-pound weight class. Bluffton’s DeAndre Nassar topped May in the Division III state championship last season, while Ottawa-Glandorf’s Daniel Beemer won his 182-pound Division III state title match against Edison’s Sam Stoll in 2018.

A WHOLE LOT OF BITE: Columbus Grove’s trio of Meyer, Dylan Sargent and Dakota Sargent are each coming off state tournament appearances and should provide plenty of points in the upper weight classes for the Bulldogs.

CONFERENCE FAVORITES: Van Buren has won the last four BVC tournaments, and the Black Knights have the experience to make it five straight with Snodgrass headlining a core of 10 letterwinners, five of whom were district qualifiers. Liberty-Benton, however, appears ready to challenge the Black Knights as 12 letterwinners return, including six district qualifiers.

Van Buren’s Kaleb Snodgrass, left, grapples with Columbus Grandview Heights’ Hudson Jump during the OHSAA Division III 220-pound state title match at Value City Arena in March. Snodgrass, who lost the match to finish as the state runner-up, will look to reach the state tournament and improve on his finish. (Photo by Jamie Baker)

Carey (Northern 10 Conference), Bluffton (Northwest Conference) and Elmwood (Northern Buckeye Conference) are coming off second-place conference finishes and have the firepower to post high league finishes again. Upper Sandusky, which won back-to-back N10 titles in 2017 and 2018, will look to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish after returning its entire team.

KEY DATES: The regional team tournament will be held on Saturday, Feb. 8, while the state team tournament will take place on Sunday, Feb. 16. Most of the league meets will be on Saturday, Feb. 22.

Sectional tournaments around the state will be from Feb. 24-29; district tournaments will be March 2-7 and the state tournaments will be March 13-15.

Ada

HEAD COACH: David Ames (1st year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/6th in Northwest Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Reece Evans, sr., 160, 8-13; Ethan Hull, sr., 160, 1-11; Colton Beiderman, jr., 120, 10-21; Noah Arnett, sr., 285, 16-10.

TOP PROSPECTS: Cameron Bober, jr., 152; Cole Anspaugh, jr., 160; Wyatt Badertscher, jr., 132; Jonathan McClain, jr., 220; Khyler Stoll, sr., 138; Antonio Petitt, fr., 113; Kyle Mattson, fr., 170.

NOTABLE: Arnett finished third, while Evans, Hull and Beiderman each finished fourth in their respective weight classes in last year’s Northwest Conference tournament.

Arcadia

HEAD COACH: Jerry Stone (4th year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: 4-3/3rd in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jordan Marczak, sr., 126, 17-14; Chase Distel, jr., 138, 25-23; Bryan Harrison, jr., 132, 28-19, district qualifier; Ethan Smar, jr., 170, 19-27; Brady Conine, soph., 170, 23-21; Logan Crawford, soph., 120, 21-21, district qualifier; Joe Tardibuono, soph., 170, 9-29; Adrian Tolento, soph., 106, 15-18, district qualifier; Isaac Tolento, soph., 113, 19-24.

TOP PROSPECTS: Ryland Ernest, fr., 195; Tommy Keefe, fr., 170.

NOTABLE: Stone has a lot of experience back, including a trio of district qualifiers. Crawford and Adrian Tolento were qualifiers a year ago as freshmen, while Harrison qualified as a freshman in the 2017-18 season. However, Arcadia has a couple holes to fill, including four-time Blanchard Valley Conference heavyweight champion John Hill, who graduated last spring.

Bluffton

HEAD COACH: Jeff Kleman (23rd year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/2nd in Northwest Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Landen Luginbuhl, sr., 220, district qualifier; Tayton Kleman, jr., 113, district qualifier; Jeremy Sturgeon, jr., 120, district qualifier; Dustin Mortimer, soph., 138; Elias Mault, soph., 126; Kaden Basil, soph., 132, district qualifier; Trent Howard, soph., 195; Jackson Wilson, soph., 182, district qualifier.

TOP PROSPECTS: Thayne Kleman, fr., 106; Trevin Hirsch, fr., 120; Travis Kiracofe, fr., 152; Steven Sprague, fr., 132; Vanius Carnauba, fr., 126; Hunter Sturgeon, fr., 138; Mason Davis, fr., 126.

NOTABLE: Bluffton graduated state-champion DeAndre Nassar, but there’s still plenty of talent back with five district qualifiers. Tayton Kleman (106), Sturgeon (126) and Wilson (160) are all returning Northwest Conference champions.

Carey

HEAD COACH: Ryan Pratt (17th year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: 7-7/2nd in Northern 10 Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Reece Mullholand, sr., 120, district qualifier; Tanner May, sr., 182, state placer; Hayden Jacoby, sr., 160, district qualifier; Kaeden Wentz, jr., 195; Noah Black, jr., 220; A.J. Gernert, sr., 170.

TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.

NOTABLE: May, a three-time state placer, will look to win it all this season at 182 pounds. May, Mullholand (sixth place at districts) and Jacoby each won Northern 10 Conference titles last season.

Columbus Grove

HEAD COACH: Eric Siefker (12th year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/3rd in Northwest Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dylan Sargent, sr., 220, state qualifier; Dakota Sargent, sr., 195, state qualifier; Joe Roman, sr.; Justin Flanders, jr.; Tanner Blankemeyer, jr.; Ryan Bogart, jr.; Ezra Jones, jr., district qualifier; Jeff Meyer, jr., 285, state placer; Jordan Vogt, jr.; Luke Kaufman, soph.; Joe Kohli, soph.; Nicholas Wolverton, soph.

TOP PROSPECTS: Neil Kettles, soph.; Matthew Sigler, soph.; Robby Lyons, soph.; John Bryan, soph.; A.J. Schafer, fr.; Landen Schroeder, fr.; Trever Wynkoop, fr.; Jevin Langhals, fr.; Billy Ridinger, fr.; Anden Blankemeyer, fr.; Hunter Sudlow, fr.; Noah Goecke, fr.; Antonio Gray, fr.; Grace Selhorst, jr.; Cheyanne Mershman, jr.; Adeleigh Halker, jr.; Melana Lohmann, soph.; Gwen Langhals, fr.

NOTABLE: Meyer finished sixth in the 2019 Division III state tournament as a sophomore, and along with state-qualifying twins Dylan and Dakota Sargent, the trio will be looking for a return trip to state.

Cory-Rawson

HEAD COACH: Justin Parkins (13th year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/4th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Owen Karcher, sr., district qualifier; Deontae’ Davis, sr., state qualifier; Nick Thompson, jr.; Savoux Moore, soph.; Justin Gibson, jr.

TOP PROSPECTS: Travis Martin, sr.; Bryce Martin, sr.; Cale Parkins, fr.; Connor Brooks, fr.; Jacob Thompson, soph.; Jared Thompson, fr.; Jacob Miles, fr.; Jonathan Black, fr.; Josiah Preteroti-Laytart, soph.

NOTABLE: Deontae’ Davis, the Blanchard Valley Champion at 160 pounds, reached the state tournament and will be looking to make it back to Columbus. Owen Karcher was fourth at 120 pounds in the BVC tournament and is a returning district qualifier for the Hornets.

Elmwood

HEAD COACH: Nick Davis (2nd year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: 16-9/2nd in Northern Buckeye Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Will Bechstein, sr., 220, state placer; Justin Houtz, sr., 285; Sanford Fraley, sr., 182; Zane Hagemeyer, jr., 195; Elijah Reynolds, jr., 170; Jonathan Patterson, jr., 132; Konnor Logston, jr., 195; Kaleb Loera, jr., 220; Jonathon Bodnar, soph., 220; Gunner Endicott, soph., 160, district qualifier; Colton Ickes, soph., 195; Jaydon Jenkins, soph., 152.

TOP PROSPECTS: Mason Oliver, fr.; Frank Blair, fr.; Lex Voska, fr.; Tyler Simon, fr.; Edward Gallagher, fr.; Adam Mohre, fr.; Cannon Endicott, fr.; Bryan Grilliot, fr.; Jameson Young, fr.; Wyatt Zeigler, fr.; Easton Thomas, fr.; Joey Wise, fr.; Philip Myers, fr.; Alex Endicott, fr.; Brady Barlekamp, fr.; Brody Reynolds, fr.; Grady Nekroranec, fr.; Tyler Boyer, fr.; Mason Crum, soph.; Seth Barringer, soph.; Jesse Wise, soph.; Tegan Tyson, soph.; Daniel Duvall, jr.; Zach Endicott, jr.; Blake Repasz, sr.

NOTABLE: Will Bechstein is coming off a strong season in which he won the Northern Buckeye Conference title at 220 pounds, finished second at districts and fourth in the Division III state tournament. The Royals will be young this year, but there are some talented underclassmen coming in and the numbers are way up with around 35 wrestlers on the team.

Fostoria

HEAD COACH: Justin Kiser (3rd year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/8th in Northern Buckeye Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Noah Damschroder, sr., 152, 7-16; Roger Hall, sr., 195, 30-10, district qualifier; Aaron Johnson, sr., 220, 9-32.

TOP PROSPECTS: Trace Agapiou, fr., 195; Evan Baxter, fr., 170; Bryce Brookman, fr., 126; Binicio Flores, fr., 285; Jose Garcia, fr., 160; Jesse Hall, jr., 285; Rigo Herrera, jr., 195; Kayden Hutchins, fr., 113; Dillian Winland, fr.

NOTABLE: Roger Hall posted a solid year last season in reaching the district tournament at 195 pounds and finishing third in the Northern Buckeye Conference tournament.

Hopewell-Loudon

HEAD COACH: Chad Patterson (2nd year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/5th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Blake Hoover, jr., 126, district qualifier; Caden Crawford, jr., 132, district qualifier; Lance Crawford, soph., 138, district qualifier; Nico Garcia, soph., 152/160; Cooper Davidson, soph., 145; Calib Hinton, sr., 170/182; Levi Kuhn, sr., 195/220; Xavier Baker, jr., 195/182.

TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.

NOTABLE: Hopewell-Loudon will be looking to make its mark in its first season in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division. Blake Hoover (113) and Lance Crawford (120) were BVC champs a year ago, while Caden Crawford (126) was runner-up. All three were district qualifiers as well.

Liberty-Benton

HEAD COACH: Chad Marzec (2nd year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: 14-1/2nd in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Brennen Bailey, soph., 285, 5-12; Brett Ogborn, soph., 170, 33-12, district qualifier; Carter Oswalt, soph., 113, 6-9; Matthew Sanchez, soph., 220, 7-2; Dru Baker, jr., 138, 37-12, district qualifier; Matthew Berger, jr., 285, 21-24; Luke Broerman, jr., 120, 22-20, district qualifier; Nathaniel DiRe, jr., 195, 48-9, state qualifier; Race Gorrell, jr., 170, 35-11, district qualifier; Greg Musselman, jr., 126, 18-21, district qualifier; Riley Peterson, jr., 126, 3-9; Dylan Mersch, jr., 220, 27-17.

TOP PROSPECTS: Cody Collert, sr., 170; Jacob Dukes, jr., 182; Cole Boone, soph., 182; Isaac Cardona, soph., 182; Cameron Criblez, soph., 138; Storm Haudenschield, soph., 285; Colby Howard, soph., 138; Gavin Ingram, soph., 152; Ashton Price, soph., 220; Ethan Bauer, fr., 170; R.J. Coldren, fr., 106; Gavin Gillig, fr., 145; Nolan Houck, fr., 145; Sam McFarland, fr., 132; Devin Montalbine, fr., 220; Conner Niese, fr., 145; Nathaniel Smielewski, fr., 170.

NOTABLE: Expect big things from Liberty-Benton again this season. DiRe was a state qualifier as a sophomore in the 182-pound division and has posted a 77-24 career record through two seasons. Gorrell (61-35) and Baker (60-32) have also posted at least 60 career wins for the Eagles.

McComb

HEAD COACH: Jim Pierce.

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/6th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jacob Dillon, sr., 160; Kahle Farquarson, sr., 195.

TOP PROSPECTS: John Kowalski, soph., 285; Brenden McCawley, soph., 132; Montana Pierce, fr., 138.

NOTABLE: Jacob Dillon returns for McComb after missing last season with an injury. The two-time Blanchard Valley Conference champion has a 75-23 career record, and he’ll look to return to districts and make a push toward a state tournament appearance.

North Baltimore

HEAD COACH: Da’Quain Butler (1st year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/7th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Levi Trout, sr., 145, 18-14; Darrian Zitzelberger, soph., 132, 10-9; Brendan Woodward, soph., 120, 5-22, district qualifier.

TOP PROSPECTS: Torien Lute, soph., 126; Harley Wheeler, sr., 138; Timmothy Simon, jr., 182; Cory Noblit, sr., 285.

NOTABLE: First-year coach Da’Quain Butler has a trio of letterwinners to work with, including Woodward, a district qualifier at 120 pounds.

Ottawa-Glandorf

HEAD COACH: Randy Ebbeskotte (4th year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/9th in Western Buckeye League.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Owen Thomas, soph., 145.

TOP PROSPECTS: Justice Pope, fr., 113; Angel Rosales, fr., 138.

NOTABLE: Numbers are down at Ottawa-Glandorf with only three wrestlers on the roster, and as a result, the Titans will not compete in Western Buckeye League dual matches. O-G, however, will compete in several tournaments throughout the year, including the WBL tournament at the end of the regular season.

Pandora-Gilboa

HEAD COACH: Robert Blank.

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/9th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: None.

TOP PROSPECTS: Mitchell Blank, fr., 160.

NOTABLE: Pandora-Gilboa will have a wrestler compete in several tournaments again this season as freshman Mitchell Blank will take part in the 160-pound division. Blank is the younger brother of 2019 P-G graduate Hayden Blank, who finished runner-up at 195 pounds in the Blanchard Valley Conference tournament last season.

Patrick Henry

HEAD COACH: Xavier Dye (2nd year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/7th in Northwest Ohio Athletic League.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Anthony Meyer, jr., 126; Addison Vance, soph., 138; Behnjamin Petersen, jr., 145; T.J. Rhamy, sr., 160, state placer; Harley Cole, soph., 170; Wil Morrow, sr., 195, state placer; Jose Bejarano, jr., 220; Josh Stout, jr., 220.

TOP PROSPECTS: Jeff Camp, fr., 106; Lee Borders, fr., 113; Ty Carrizales, fr., 152; Devin Hogrefe, fr., 285.

NOTABLE: Patrick Henry returns two of the top wrestlers in the area in Morrow and Rhamy, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in their weight classes at state last season.

Riverdale

HEAD COACH: Duane Brodman (22nd year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/8th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ethan Shane, sr., 170, district qualifier.

TOP PROSPECTS: Neil Williams, fr.; Caden Roach, fr.

NOTABLE: The Falcons lost a lot of talent from last season. Shane was one of four district qualifiers for the 2018-19 Riverdale team.

Upper Sandusky

HEAD COACH: Noah Blankenship (6th year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: Not available/4th in Northern 10 Conference.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Garrett Thomas, sr.; Jaxon Passet, sr.; Brayzin McDaniel, sr., district qualifier; Ashton Shepherd, sr., district qualifier; Blake Herbert, jr., district qualifier; Ethan Beidelschies, jr.; Keith Sammet, jr.; Emery Pahl, jr., district qualifier; Caleb Payne, soph.; Frank Depinet II, soph.; Gage Ebert, soph., district qualifier; Aiden Gallant, soph.; Creighton Morton, soph.; Carson Van Horn, soph.

TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.

NOTABLE: Upper Sandusky will be looking to get back to the top of the Northern 10 Conference. Upper Sandusky won N10 titles in 2017 and 2018 before finishing fourth last season. McDaniel (138 pounds), Shepherd (145), Herbert (195), Pahl (132) and Ebert (106) were district qualifiers in the Division II Norwalk District a year ago.

Van Buren

HEAD COACH: Justin Slauterbeck (2nd year).

LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISHES: 8-10/Blanchard Valley Conference champs.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dino Donaldson, jr., 20-12, district qualifier; Andres Miranda, sr., 20-22; Mateo Miranda, sr., 23-22, district qualifier; Aiden Mowrey, soph., 18-22, district qualifier; A.J. Overmyer, sr., 22-19; Kaleb Snodgrass, sr., 42-7, state placer; Dylan VanAtta, soph., 15-16; Cade Whitticar, sr., 18-4; Nathan Williamson, sr., 12-7; Grant Young, jr., 20-25, district qualifier.

TOP PROSPECTS: Eli Dilgard, sr; Blake Jones, jr; Jayce Lowery, jr.; Cody Snyder, jr.; Chris Emerine, soph.; Cameron Gayheart, fr.; Gabriel George, fr.; Landyn Lowery, fr.; Brody Smith, fr.; Carter Thomas, fr.; Blaze Wickman, fr.

NOTABLE: There’s plenty of firepower back for the Black Knights, who have won the last four Blanchard Valley Conference titles. Snodgrass, who has signed to wrestle for Division I Lock Haven University, was runner-up in the Division III state tournament at 220 pounds last season.

Burwell, 419-427-8407

Send an E-mail to Mike Burwell

Comments