Prep Wrestling Capsule
42nd Van Buren Invitational
WHERE: Van Buren High School.
WHEN: Friday, 2 p.m. with two championship rounds, first round consolation rattails and one full round of consolations; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. with consolation round first, followed by semifinals and championship finals at 4 p.m.
AREA SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING: Arcadia, Bluffton, Carey, Columbus Grove, Cory-Rawson, Elmwood, Fostoria, Hopewell-Loudon, Lakota, Liberty-Benton, McComb, North Baltimore, Ottawa-Glandorf, Riverdale, Upper Sandusky, Van Buren.
OTHER SCHOOLS: Allen East, Tiffin Calvert, Eastwood, Galion, Gibsonburg, Kenton, Lincolnview, Mohawk, Fremont St. Joseph, Sandusky St. Mary, Seneca East, Wayne Trace, Woodmore.
RETURNING CHAMPS: Eastwood is back to defend its team title. The Eagles won with 210 points, while Allen East (150) edged Elmwood (149) for runner-up honors. Individually, area returning champs include Elmwood sophomore Gunner Endicott (22-4 record this season), who was the 145-pound champ and has had a strong year so far at 160 pounds; Lakota senior Trevor Franks (20-0), who was the 160-pound title winner and is dominating at 170 this year; and Van Buren senior Kaleb Snodgrass (19-2), who won at 220 a year ago and has been solid at 285 this season.
WHAT TO WATCH: There is plenty of talent across each weight division, but the upper weights have potential to produce star-studded matchups — and rematches.
Snodgrass will be looking to add another VBI title at his home tournament. He is coming off a third-place finish at Perrysburg, and there’s a chance that he could meet up with Columbus Grove’s Jeff Meyer (19-2) once again. At the Defiance Border War Tournament in late December, Snodgrass edged Meyer 3-1 in the third-place match between returning state placers.
Elmwood’s Will Bechstein (19-5) is coming off an impressive showing at the Perrysburg Invitational Tournament last weekend in which he rolled to the 220-pound title. He was fifth at 220 at last year’s VBI. Liberty-Benton’s Nathaniel DiRe (12-1) and Fostoria’s Roger Hall (19-4) are coming off tournament wins at 195 pounds at the Lima Senior Spartan Invitational and Carey Classic, respectively.
At 182 pounds, Carey senior Tanner May (20-1) will look to continue his dominating season and win his first VBI title. The Blue Devils were one of four teams who did not make the trip to compete on the second day of the tournament last season due to wintry weather in the area.
At 160 pounds, several area grapplers could meet up deep in the tournament. Endicott, along with Cory-Rawson’s Deontae’ Davis (15-1) and Carey’s Hayden Jacoby (19-3), have been strong all year. Davis is coming off his first loss of the season at Lima on Saturday after finishing second. Jacoby, meanwhile, is close to the 100-career win milestone and is coming off a dominating performance at 160 in winning the Carey Classic.