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    Findlay, OH. 45840

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Plenty of story lines as new season begins in Findlay area

By JAMIE BAKER
Staff Writer
The number of wrestlers out for the sport this winter seems to be down a bit with a few notable exceptions.
And two of those schools who have plenty of bodies, Columbus Grove and Upper Sandusky, could just be the teams to beat in their respective conferences this season.
Upper Sandusky coach Chris Rodriguez has an excellent  group of returning wrestlers from last year’s team that won the school’s first North Central Conference championship.
Carson Mengerink (113 pounds), Steve Richmond (120), Alex Kenner (152), Tylor Pritchard (182) and Cory Frey (160) are all returning league champs. All except Richmond advanced to the district tournament last season.
Upper Sandusky, which has 27 wrestlers on the roster, showed no ill effects from losing a week of practice because of the school’s extended football season.
The Rams were second in Saturday’s season-opening tournament at Mansfield Madison. Pritchard won an individual title while Mengerink and Derek Hanson both placed second.
Columbus Grove, meanwhile, could be primed to win the school’s first Northwest Conference title this season.
Coach Eric Siefker’s Bulldogs are coming off a championship performance at Saturday’s Cory-Rawson Duals.
The Bulldogs have 11 returning letterwinners including senior district placer Tregg Keysor and returning district qualifiers Brett Sampson and Brandon Benroth.
There are several other area story lines to keep an eye on around the region this year:
• Elmwood coach Dave Lee is the winningest Ohio wrestling coach of all time. Lee passed Sandusky St. Mary’s Jude Roth (426 wins) last season to become Ohio’s career coaching victories leader according to records kept by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Lee, who has coached at Elmwood for 25 years, has a career coaching record of 437-170 heading into this season.
He’ll have his work cut out for him to continue the Royals’ success on the mat as he lost nine talented seniors from last year’s team that won the Northern Buckeye Conference championship.
Lee will have a chance to add to his dual meet win total tonight when the Royals join Fostoria in a Northern Buckeye Conference quadrangular match at Rossford.
• North Baltimore senior Dalton Ishmael is also quickly closing in on a state record. Ishmael, who is coming off a Most Valuable Wrestler performance at last weekend’s Gibsonburg Invitational, recorded five pins to increase his career total to 118 falls. He needs a total of 25 pins to tie the state record of 143 set by Mayfield heavyweight Derrick Bendau in 2000-03.
A two-time state placer, Ishmael was third in the 195-pound division of the Division III state tournament last season. He  has a career record of 138-14.
• Ottawa-Glandorf returning state qualifier Wyatt Karhoff’s season is in doubt.
An all-state lineman on O-G’s regional final football team, Karhoff suffered a shoulder injury late in the season that required surgery. He sat in the coaches’ chair and helped Ottawa-Glandorf coach Ken Schnipke during last weekend’s Cory-Rawson Duals.
With a recovery time estimated at six to eight weeks, Karhoff could return to the mat late in the year, or he could forgo the season to get ready for football in college.
• New this season is an OHSAA state-sponsored dual meet championship. Teams will be assigned to regions in each of the three divisions by the OHSAA no later than Jan. 1. Regional quarterfinals will take place Jan. 23, the regional semifinals on Jan. 30, and  the regional finals on Feb. 6.
The state team tournament with the final four in each Division will take place on Saturday, Feb. 9 at Ohio State University’s St. John Arena.
• Also new is that Liberty-Benton will have a wrestler competing for the first time since the program was scuttled by the school in 1987. Tyler Sarreshteh will compete in the 113-pound division, and made his debut last weekend by winning his weight class at Northwood’s Jim Derr Invitational.
The L-B sophomore’s next event will be the prestigious Medina Invitational Tournament later this month.
• One year after adding Gibsonburg, the Ohio Wrestling League has another member. Danbury’s three-year old program will compete in this year’s OWL tournament scheduled for Feb. 9 at Northwood. Other members of the league include Arcadia, Cory-Rawson, Van Buren, McComb, Northwood, Cardinal Stritch and Toledo Christian. Because of budget cuts in the district, Stryker will not field a team this season.
Below are preseason preview capsules for area wrestling teams. No preview information was available on the teams from Carey and Van Buren.

Ada
HEAD COACH: Branden Nickles (3rd year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: Not available.
CONFERENCE FINISH: 8th in Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Matt Higgins, soph., 152; Dylan Harnish, soph., 160; Austin Windle, soph., 160; Noah Beach, soph., 170; Hunter Allen, soph., 182; Jarod Woodland, soph., 195; Brady Pitney, jr., 220; Tom Dotson, jr., 285.
TOP PROSPECTS: Gage Dunn, fr., 120; Tyler Rockhill, fr., 132; Jean PierreRicautre, fr., 138; Austin Scott, soph., 160; Nathan Winegardner, fr., 170; Zachary Beckwith, fr., 285.
NOTABLE: Ada has a solid young core of wrestlers in just the third season the program has been around. Windle and Hannah were fourth in the conference last season as freshmen.

Arcadia
HEAD COACH: Travis Ricker (3rd year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: Not available
CONFERENCE FINISH: 2nd in Ohio Wrestling League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jared Bowman, soph., 113, 54-6, district placer; Trevor Bowman, jr., 120; Vlad Sedler, soph., 126; Levi Sammet , sr., 132; Tyler Bame, sr., 152; Montana Kimmel, soph, 220.
TOP PROSPECTS: Tristan Love, fr., 106; Gabe Johnson, sr., 285.
NOTABLE: Bowman is coming off a sensational freshman season. The Redskins are down on numbers this season with just nine on the team but Ricker likes his wrestlers’ talent and work ethic so far this season.

Bluffton
HEAD COACH: Jeff Kleman (17th year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: Not available.
CONFERENCE FINISH: 4th in Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Zach Wilson, sr., 152, 51-3, NWC champ, state placer, 125-17 career record; Jacob Garmatter, sr., 145, 32-15, NWC Champ, 57-59 career record; Josiah Conley, sr., 182, 29-15, 34-36 career record; Josh Bracy, soph., 160, 12-21; Colt Freeman, soph., 120, 14-22; Colin Thierjung, soph., 138, 13-16; Clay Wilson, soph., 13-21; Haley Keller, soph., 106, 9-16.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kyle Bemsey, soph., 170; Dillon Fletcher, fr., 170; Mike Luke, fr., 120; Blake Sampson, fr., 220; Brandon Henry, soph., 285.
NOTABLE: Zach Wilson was fourth at state last season. Barring injuries he could end up in the top 50 for all-time career victories in the OHSAA record book.

Columbus Grove
HEAD COACH: Eric Siefker (5th year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: 8-3.
CONFERENCE FINISH: 3rd in Northwest Conference
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Tregg Keysor, sr., district placer; Brandon Benroth, sr., district qualifier; Hunter Giesige, sr.; Adam Johnson, sr.; Alec Gladwell, jr., Brett Sampson, jr., district qualifier; Tyler Schroeder, jr.; Will Selhorst, jr.; Jonah Shank, jr.; Alex Schaffer, soph.; Christian Stechschulte, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Robert Lineman, sr.; Kenny Smith, sr.; Alex Burgie, jr.; C.J. Shartzer, jr.; Bradie Strawser, jr.; Nick Ogle, soph.; Andrew Burgie, soph.; Blake Dunifon, soph.; Garrett Haunstein, fr.; Eli Schroeder, fr.; Isaac Siefker, fr.; Andrew Nichols, fr.; Eli Wiswasser, fr.
NOTABLE: With 11 returning letterwinners and a 25-man roster look for Columbus Grove to challenge for the NWC title this season.

Cory-Rawson
HEAD COACH: Justin Parkins (6th year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: Not available.
CONFERENCE FINISH: 2nd in Ohio Wrestling League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Devin Meyer, soph., 113; Brandon Eck, jr., 120; Zach Smith, sr., 126; Austin Brown, jr., 138; Dylen Hartman, jr., 152; Chase Oler, sr., 220.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jacob Collins, jr., 170; Lance Butler, soph., 145.
NOTABLE: Smith is a returning league champ. Parkins has built the competitive level of the program each and every year he has coached and is hoping for a productive season from the nine wrestlers on his roster this season.

Elmwood
HEAD COACH: Dave Lee (30th year, 437-170).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: 27-3.
CONFERENCE FINISH: Northern Buckeye Conference champs.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Brandon Pennington, soph., 120, district qualifier; George Andrich, sr., 106/113; Dustin Ferguson, sr., 120/126, NBC champ, state placer; Dylan Benschoter, soph., 126/132; Brik Dauterman, jr., 132/138; Justin Hathaway, sr., 145; Alex Jasso, sr., 145/152; Michael Baer, sr., 145, district qualifier; Allen Dyar, sr., 160/170; Jake Wise, jr., 160/170, district qualifier; Devon Uzelac, soph., 195/220.
TOP PROSPECTS: Dylan Hall, fr., 132/138; Noah Corral, soph., 126/132.
NOTABLE: Elmwood will be in rebuilding mode after losing nine quality senior wrestlers to graduation, but the Royals should still be one of the better teams around area with a 26-man roster.

Hopewell-Loudon
HEAD COACH: Travis Traxler (1st year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: Not available.
CONFERENCE FINISH: 6th in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Coltan Hossler, sr.; Troy Halcomb, sr..; Zach Clouse, jr.; Tristan Myers, jr.; Dakota Magers, jr.; Bryce Steinhauser, soph.; Chet Swartzmiller, soph., MAL champ.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ashley Rhodes, jr.; Zac  Hrabak, soph.; Ross Sears, soph.; Bernie Somers, soph.; Christian Potteiger, soph.; Damien Vitt, fr.; Braxton Young, fr.; Elijah Bustillos, fr.; Alex Brock, fr.; Elancio Valasquez, fr.

Fostoria
HEAD COACH: Nick Davis (6th year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: 15-17.
CONFERENCE FINISH:7th in Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Luke Leonard, soph., 120, 33-19; Salvador Cantero, sr., 145, 12-2, 36-25 career record; Keegan Green, jr., 152, 17-19, 22-30 career record; Tony Reynolds, sr., 170, 36-17, 64-45 career record, state placer.
TOP PROSPECTS: Torrance Thompson, fr., 182; Hariket Bilodiya, fr., 160; JJ Fuller, fr., 145; Jason Lez, fr., 106; Austin Struble, fr., 126; Elliot Hossler, fr., 132; Zach Vitt, fr., 132; Rolando Silva, fr., 160; Caleb Gooding, jr., 138; Alex Jackson, jr., 195; Deante Lincoln, jr., 285; Anthony Thompson, sr., 220.
NOTABLE: Reynolds was a sixth-place finisher in the Division III state meet last season. Leonard was a district qualifier. Davis’ 18-wrestler roster features 10 freshmen this season.

Fostoria St. Wendelin
HEAD COACH: Nick Frisch (1st year)
DUAL MATCH RECORD: Not available.
CONFERENCE FINISH: 9th in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Cole Williams, jr., 120/126, MAL champ, district qualifier; Austin Turner, jr., 170/182; Caleb Colburn, jr., 160.
TOP PROSPECTS: Rob Park, soph., 170; Sheldon Doogs, fr., 113/120.
NOTABLE: Frisch, a 2000 state champion for Fostoria High School, has taken over as St. Wendelin’s head wrestling coach this season.

McComb
HEAD COACH: Jim Pierce (13th year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: Not available.
CONFERENCE FINISH: 4th in Ohio Wrestling League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Damian Eakin, soph., 152; Jordan Suydam, sr., 160/170; Austin Nye, jr., 160; Devin Gonzales, jr., 120; Nick Siferd, sr., 138; Brock Wilson, sr., 145; Zac Harris, soph., 160.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ryan Sammett, fr., 132/138; Matt Cataline, soph., 220; Zac Eakin, fr., 132.
NOTABLE: McComb has a solid, but small core of wrestlers this season. Veteran coach Jim Pierce is hoping to pick up a few more bodies after McComb’s long football playoff run.

North Baltimore
HEAD COACH: Jesse Thomas (3rd year).
LEAGUE FINISH: 7th in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ryan Long, soph., 106; Brandon Senecal, sr., 138/145; Joel Swartz, sr., 145/152; Dalton Ishmael, sr., 182/195; Brice Bankey, sr., 220/285.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kevin Bridge, soph., 132; Sam Kaufman, sr., 132/138; William Griffith, fr., 138; Marshall Weaver, soph., 170; Ethan Nominee, jr., 220/285; David Bankey, soph., 220/285.
NOTABLE: Notable that Thomas has returning state placer Dalton Ishmael (who has more than 100 career pins) penciled in at 182 or 195 pounds this season.

Ottawa-Glandorf
HEAD COACH: Ken Schnipke (2nd year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: Not available.
CONFERENCE FINISH: 9th in Western Buckeye League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ryan Cramer, sr., 160; Wayne Erford, sr., 170; Jacob Wells, sr., 182; Mason Meyer, sr., 195; Jacob Otto, sr., 220; Wyatt Karhoff, sr., 285, WBL champ, state qualifier; Derek Ebbeskotte, jr., 182.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jake Hahn, fr., 113; Cristian Santiago, jr., 160; Jeremy Gibson, soph., 170; Ruben Lugo, fr., 170; Trenton Meyer, sr., 182.
NOTABLE: Senior state qualifier Wyatt Karhoff, may or may not wrestle this season. He is out 6-8 weeks after undergoing shoulder surgery for an injury suffered during football season.

Patrick Henry
HEAD COACH: Victor Lopez (12th year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: Not available.
CONFERENCE FINISH: 8th in Northwest Ohio Athletic League
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Cory Reese, jr., 152; Brandon Cole, jr., 145; Galen Powers, sr., 170/182; Luis Hinjosa, jr., 126.
TOP PROSPECTS: Brandon Bennett, fr.
NOTABLE: Powers was fourth in the NWOAL meet and is the Patriots’ top returning league placer.

Riverdale
HEAD COACH: Duane Brodman (15th year).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: 5-4.
CONFERENCE FINISH: 3rd in North Central Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Koltin Martin, jr., 113, 39-8, district qualifier, 76-18 career record; Mitchell Matheny, soph., 120, 32-13, district qualifier; Caleb Hicks, soph., 126, 3-10; Austin Clark, soph., 138, 24-16, NCC champ; Paul Frey, jr., 145, 19-18, 43-33 career record, district qualifier; Seth Knoll, jr., 152, 26-17, 40-27 career record; Josh Bushong, soph., 171, 29-16, district qualifier; Tre Headington, sr., 182, 34-13, 66-47 career record, NCC champ, district qualifier; Caleb Tracy, soph., 195, 8-26; Dillon Welker, sr., 220, 28-40 career record; Justin Pfeister, jr., 285, 28-21, 48-43 career record, district qualifier.
TOP PROSPECTS: Austin Miller, fr., 132; Evan Gladden, fr., 160
NOTABLE: The Falcons have a solid nucleus of wrestlers returning and should challenge Galion and Upper Sandusky for the NCC title.

Upper Sandusky
HEAD COACH: Chris Rodriguez (5th year, 50-23-1).
DUAL MATCH RECORD: 6-2.
CONFERENCE FINISH: North Central Conference champs.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Carson Mengerink, jr., 113, 34-10, NCC champ, district qualifier; Steve Richmond, soph., 120, 10-9, NCC champ; Derek Hanson, jr., 126, 27-15; Luis Ayala, soph., 132, 11-11; Alex Kenner, jr., 152, 39-8, NCC champ, district qualifier; Cory Frey, sr., 160, 35-11, NCC champ, district qualifier; Tylor Pritchard, jr., 182, 35-11, NCC champ, district qualifier; Dylan Robertson, jr., 195, 19-14, district qualifier; Tyron Gillen, sr., 145.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: With five returning league champions, the Rams are locked and loaded for a run at their second straight NCC title.
Baker, 419-427-8409
jamiebaker@thecourier.com