Just like the A-Team’s commander John “Hannibal” Smith, Waynedale wrestling head coach Louie Stanley loves it when a plan comes together. Stanley’s wrestling plan seems to be coming together at exactly the right time, and that resulted in a convincing sectional wrestling crown.
The Golden Bears circled the sectional opener on their calendar, and everything they have done this season has been in preparation for this moment.
Waynedale captured another sectional title, this time laying claim to the Div. III Northwestern sectional that took place Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24 at Northwestern High School.
The weekend was a whole lot of positives for Waynedale, and Stanley said coming in that his team had high hopes and huge expectations.
“It’s all about preparing for this time of the year, and it’s taken good teams to beat us all year long, so I don’t mind losing to competition when it is that kind of caliber,” Stanley said of the season. His team lost a dual to state powerhouse Wauseon and fell to a very talented Versailles team in the state dual quarterfinals.
As for where his team stands heading into the tournament, Stanley said everyone was fairly healthy and they were anticipating some great success.
“We are about 99 percent where we want to be as we head into sectionals,” Stanley said. “I am very thankful we are as healthy as we are, and I think conditioning-wise we look good. You want to try to start peaking at sectionals and be at the top of the mountain at districts and state. I think we have accomplished that the past couple of years. We have performed well at state, and we are following the same practice schedule that we have found to be very successful. This has been a very tight-knit group that has been able to keep things in perspective, and they all have good heads on their shoulders.”
Stanley said he keeps a log of all of the various practice techniques and when they want to do certain things in preparing for the end game. That has helped them eliminate some of the little mistakes that can mean big differences in the results at this time of the year.
“Every year is different, and so much depends on health, but sometimes we can tweak things around and make ourselves better simply by the approach we take at practice,” Stanley said, adding with a laugh, “It’s only taken me 28 years to figure that out.”
Waynedale won the sectional title with 225 points, easily moving past runner-up Loudonville’s total of 160.5. Smithville was nipping at the Redbird’s heels, placing third at 154, while Orrville was also challenging for the runner-up spot, eventually settling for fourth place at 150.
At 113 pounds Gabe Mathias (39-6) took down top-seeded Hunter Frederick of Mapleton in a 9-0 major decision. Following suit, Storm Stanley stormed his way to victory at 120 pounds, improving his record to 39-10 with a 6-0 decision win against Loudonville’s Daniel Forbes (31-9).
Evan Hostetler (46-5) continued his torrid pace this season, becoming the third Golden Bear to grab a title. The 138-pound Hostetler outdueled Smithville’s Chase Keener, who had upended the number-two-seed Clayton Baglia (32-9) of Chippewa 5-2 in the semifinals. In the finals Keener gave Hostetler everything he could handle before the Golden Bear finally put the winning touches on a 3-2 victory.
At 145 pounds Jarrett Varner (34-11) dropped his first match of the day, then fought back through the consolations to take third place to advance to districts. Varner took down Loudonville’s Brock Lowery (25-12) by fall at 1:25 in the battle for third place.
Micah Hershberger (41-10) took the runner-up spot at 152 pounds after going 3-1 on the day. His lone loss came in the finals, where he fell to Norwayne superstar Gavin Stika (47-1) by a 6-0 decision.
At 160 pounds Max Lemon (41-11) fought his way to a fourth-place finish to advance to districts while the rugged 170-pound flight was a meat grinder that went the way of Smithville’s returning state qualifier Riley Smucker (13-1), who won the finals over Norwayne’s Kaden Kidd by a 23-7 technical fall. Placing third was Waynedale’s Nathan Shaw (44-11), who bested Triway’s Peyton Doan in the fight for third place. Both locals will move on to the district level.
Logan Stanley, Waynedale’s outstanding 182-pounder, had little problem remaining perfect on the season, moving his record to 52-0 by stopping Triway’s Alex Merwin (27-15) at 3:07 in the finals.
The 195-pound flight was loaded with talent with Rittman’s Dedric Isaac (34-2) falling to powerhouse Nick Shephard (34-0) of Fairless by a 6-0 count in the finals. All of that talent left Waynedale’s Ty Straits (43-4) having to battle for third place after losing to Isaac. He had little problem after that, reaching districts by pinning Loudonville’s Nick Stanton (19-12) at 1:28 in the battle for third place.
At 220 pounds Orrville’s big boy and top seed Sam Auble did nothing to disappoint his top status. The burly Auble steamrolled three challengers, the last one being Dalton’s Cole Geiser (24-5) in the finals, where Auble won 7-1.
Capping off the great day for the Golden Bears was brutish Ben Farrar (51-2). The large senior continued to exhibit true dominance at the heavyweight class but got a stiff challenge in the finals by way of Smithville’s top-seeded Joe Warren (36-7). The final match of the day was a doozy as the two big men grappled to the final horn before Farrar escaped with a thrilling 4-3 victory.
All told, the Golden Bears had 10 wrestlers move on to the district competition. Loudonville also produced 10 wrestlers who moved on, although the Redbirds managed to put just two wrestlers in the finals, those being runners-up 160-pounder Gavin Davis (29-7), who fell to Sevi Garza (40-2) by fall at 5:18 in the finals, and Forbes at 120 pounds.
Smithville and Orrville both advanced six wrestlers to the next level. The Smithies got the win from Smucker while Colton Beaver (19-15), Maison Martell (23-14), Trenton Mathew (27-8) and Warren advanced. The Red Riders got a victory from Auble while freshman Corey Stiffler (37-9) matched that effort with a win by fall in the finals over Norwayne’s Austin Shepherd (25-13). Other Red Riders to advance included Kollen Butler (31-7), who placed runner-up at 132 pounds, Austin Shaffer (19-18), Wyatt Zimmerman (41-11), who took the runner-up spot at 145 pounds, and Cameron VanBrunt (31-6).
Dalton’s Nathan Basinger (37-12) and Cole Geiser (24-5) both moved on, as did Triway’s Luke Daley (11-9), Merwin and Peyton Doan (15-14).
Stanley said seeing the program continue its tradition of success has been fun, but he said it goes well beyond just the guys inside the gym who are working on their craft.
“Continuity makes a big difference, but for a successful program it takes great, dedicated wrestlers, but it also takes time to build the staff. You build the parents. You build the program, and it all comes into play, and the more support you get, the easier it is to build the program. We can’t be more blessed to be in this program with these kids, the parents and the community support we receive. They make our lives pretty great as coaches.”