Rams right back at it

CAREY – Tournament time often is called the second season, a chance for a fresh start, a new beginning.

Except for Upper Sandusky.

For the Rams, it’s just another day.

Two weeks after capturing the North Central Conference title and a week after falling in the quarterfinals of the state team tournament, Upper Sandusky got right back into what’s been a dominating routine.

Four Rams won titles, four more took second and a pair ended fourth Saturday to give Upper Sandusky 10 district qualifiers and a sectional championship by a comfortable margin over a close battle for second between Riverdale and host Carey.

“We’ve been in a lot of good tournaments this year,” coach Chris Rodriguez said. “Every tournament prepped us for this weekend. And the state duals helped us out with the extra wrestling we got on Wednesday afternoons.”

A good start at the sectional didn’t hurt, either.

Six Rams opened the sectional with pins Friday, with another scoring a major decision and one adding a sudden victory overtime win, helping Upper Sandusky end the first day with a 55-33 lead over Carey.

The domination continued Saturday.

Riverdale eventually overtook Carey, 138 1/2-137 1/2 for second, but no one overtook Upper Sandusky, which led Carey and Riverdale 173-117 1/2 heading into the matches for fifth en route to 189 points for the team championship.

“We got lucky with some of the draws, for us to get points in the first two rounds. That helped us out on the scoreboard,” Rodriguez said. “Plus our boys just wanted to fight. They enjoy wrestling, they enjoy what they’re doing. Everything just goes back on the kids. They did all the work.

“Coming in, I didn’t have to say one word to the any of the boys about getting warmed up, about getting our 10- to 15-minute jog in,” he said. “They all just did it on their own and it made it easy for us. The kids pretty much just did it all on their own.”

Titles came from 106-pounder Thurston Dyer, 152-pounder Alex Kenner and back-to-back grapplers Tylor Pritchard at 182 pounds and Dylan Robertson at 195 pounds.

Dyer dropped Hopewell-Loudon’s Chet Swartzmiller 8-3, Kenner edged Riverdale’s Seth Knoll 8-6, Pritchard beat Carey’s Lincoln Stansberry 10-6 and Robertson turned away Van Buren’s Tyler Atchinson 8-1.

Upper Sandusky’s other four wrestlers ended second.

Liberty-Benton 113-pounder Tyler Sarreshteh beat Carson Mengerink 7-2, H-L 126-pounder Alex Brock scored an 11-3 major decision over Derek Hansen, Van Buren’s Chance Sonnenberg had a 13-4 major decision over 160-pounder Cory Frey, and Fremont St. Joe 220-pounder Corey Durbin held off Ian Baker 5-3.

Steven Richmond (132) and Derek Thomas (170) finished fourth and earned district berths for the Rams. Richmond fell 13-7 to Kevin Lonsway of Mohawk, while Carey’s Bryce Mullholand pinned Thomas (1:54).

But like all of the others heading to the district tournament, they’re still wrestling, which Rodriguez said is the ultimate goal at this point.

“Realistically, I think we could have done better in the finals than what we did, not to take anything away from any of the other kids,” he said. “But all in all, our goal was to make it districts, and now we’ve got another goal, we want to take some guys down to the state tournament.

“It feels good to win a sectional title,” Rodriguez said, “but we’re more focused on the next level and what’s after that level.”

Twenty-three other area wrestlers from the Carey sectional will join them in that quest at the district tournament at Bowling Green State University’s Stroh Center.

Carey leads that group with seven qualifiers of its own, with three Blue Devils capturing crowns.

Brayden Leist overwhelmed Fremont St. Joe’s Sean Vasquez 17-5 for the 132-pound title, Zack Brodman doubled up H-L 145-pounder Tristan Myers 8-4 and 285-pounder Jacob Moran closed out Saturday’s action by pinning Van Buren’s Isaac Sexton in 2:35.

Tyler Higgins joined Stansberry in gaining a second for Carey, falling 8-6 to McComb 138-pounder Nick Siferd.

Along with Mullholand’s third, 195-pounder Zack Sauber added a fourth, falling via pin to Fremont St. Joe’s Jacob Widman (2:59).

The effort fell just a point short of tying Riverdale for second, but Carey coach Ryan Pratt said he was far from disappointed.

“We wanted top three and we were a point out of second. But we got seven to district out of 11 [entries], and a few matches could have gone either way,” Pratt said.

“But hats off to Riverdale. They’re an up and coming program. We’ve finished ahead of them in a few tournaments this year and they got us this week,” he said. “Upper, Riverdale, us, Mohawk, Hopewell-Loudon’s another up and coming program, we’ve all been rivals a long time. It’s nice to see that between teams. We’re competitive on the mat, but when it’s over, we shake hands and we’re friends.”

Hopewell-Loudon finished fourth with 103 points, Fostoria held off Mohawk 73 1/2-71 for sixth, Calvert came in 14th (18 1/2) and St. Wendelin ended 15th (3).

Damion Vitt and Coltan Hossler rounded out Hopewell-Loudon’s district qualifiers by claiming third. Vitt beat Arcadia 120-pounder Trevor Bowman 6-4, and Hossler clipped Riverdale 285-pounder Justin Pfeister 4-2.

Fostoria’s Luke Leonard and Tony Reynolds each took second, with Leonard falling 7-5 to Riverdale’s Mitchel Matheny at 120 pounds and Reynolds suffering a 3-2 loss to Mohawk’s Grant Price at 170 pounds.

Salvador Cantero added a third for the Redmen at 145 pounds with a 12-4 major decision over Mohawk’s Alex Hoerig.

But Lance Smith (126) and Keegan Green (152) each fell in the consolation finals to Cory-Rawson foes. Zach Smith pinned Lance Smith (1:36), and Dylen Hartman upended Green 2-0.

Mohawk got another third from 160-pounder Austin Kelbley, and a fourth from from 138-pounder Tyler Baird. Kelbley pinned Riverdale’s Josh Bushong (4:25), and Baird fell 14-3 to Riverdale’s Austin Clark.

Calvert’s John Brodman rounded out the district qualifiers, taking fourth after getting pinned by Riverdale 113-pounder Kolten Martin (2:38).