By JAMIE BAKER
UPPER SANDUSKY — How does a top-seeded team prepare for the OHSAA regional dual meet tournament?
By going bowling.
“We wanted to have some fun so the other night we practiced a little and then we took the kids bowling. We took up eight lanes and the kids had a blast,” said Upper Sandusky wrestling coach Chris Rodriguez.
The Rams had a blast Wednesday night too.
On the opening night of the inaugural OHSAA-sponsored team dual tournament, host Upper Sandusky barely broke a sweat.
The top-seeded Rams won 11 of 14 weight classes to beat Van Buren 62-15 in the Division III Region 18-A quarterfinals.
With the win, the Rams advance to take on rival Carey in next week’s regional semifinals on their home mats at 6 p.m. Woodmore and Galion will wrestle in the other regional semifinal match.
The Rams took advantage of six Van Buren forfeits to win their opener handily. Carson Mengerink (113), Alex Kenner (152) and Tylor Pritchard (182) scored pins, Thurston Dyer (106) recorded a technical fall and Ian Baker posted a 1-0 win over Ora Oler at 220 pounds to lead Upper Sandusky past the Black Knights.
Rodriguez is a veteran coach and he knows things will only get tou
gher for his Rams from here on out. He’s not worried one iota that the success his team has had this season is going to go to their heads anytime soon.
“To be honest with you, they are pretty grounded, they don’t buy into it, they don’t think about it. They just work hard in practice and wrestle whoever they have to wrestle and have fun doing it,” said Rodriguez, whose team toppled Carey 48-27 in a triangular match last month at Plymouth.
“We all know that Carey is a good wrestling team and we’re looking forward to gettting a chance to wrestle them here at Upper next week. It’s going to be fun. I’m sure they are looking forward to wrestling us too.”
Van Buren advanced to the second round with a 42-30 win over McComb in its opener.
Three Black Knights did post 2-0 records. Chance Sonnenberg (160), Tyler Atchison (195) and Isaac Sexton (285) were all unbeaten for Van Buren.
Carey, meanwhile, was a 50-21 winner over Gibsonburg in its only match of the night.
The Blue Devils trailed the Golden Bears 21-20 with five matches left. Carey’s Bryce Mullholand (170) and Lincoln Stansberry (182) posted back-to-back wins and three forfeits by Gibsonburg in the final three weight classes turned a nailbiter into an easy win.
Carey coach Ryan Pratt has had some outstanding dual meet teams during his tenure as head coach.
In fact, the Blue Devils were fourth at last year’s Division III state duals, an invitation-only event sponsored by the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association.
Pratt loves the idea of a state dual meet championship to get more kids involved in the sport, especially those who may not have a shot at individual glory at the OHSAA state individual tourney.
“I think this is a really good thing for wrestling,” Pratt said.
“You could have a kid who might have a 10-12 record win a match in a close dual meet in the tournament and be the difference in that match. He may not ever even go to districts but he’s contributing big to the team in the dual meet tournament and that’s pretty important.”
VAN BUREN 42, McCOMB 30
106 — Corey (VB) won by forfeit.
113 — Lewis (VB) won by forfeit.
120 — Gonzales (McC) won by forfeit.
126 — Double forfeit.
132 — Sammet (McC) won by forfeit.
138 — Siferd (McC) won by forfeit.
145 — Double forfeit.
152 — Harris (McC) pinned Frost, 3:10.
160 — Sonnenberg (VB) pinned Eaken, 1:26.
170 — Nigh (McC) won by forfeit.
182 — Whitticar (VB) won by forfeit
195 — Atchison (VB) pinned Cataline, :34.
220 — Oler (VB) pinned King, 2:50.
285 — Sexton (VB) won by forfeit.
CAREY 50, GIBSONBURG 21
106 — Double forfeit.
113 — Collins (Gib) won by forfeit.
120 — Schmeltz (Gib) dec. Sammet, 7-4.
126 — Dyer (Car) pinned Webb, 2:55.
132 — Leist (Car) maj. dec. Geary, 15-2.
138 — Higgins (Car) maj. dec. Vasquez, 14-5.
145 — Brodman (Car) pinned Ickes, 3:06.
152 — Blausey (Gib) pinned Ferguson, 1:39.
160 — Henline (Gib) won by forfeit.
170 — Bry. Mullholand(Car) pinned Kreais 3:28.
182 — Stansberry (Car) pinned Metcalf, 4:43.
195 — Sauber (Car) won by forfeit.
220 — O’Flaherty (Car) won by forfeit.
285 — Moran (Car) won by forfeit.
UPPER SANDUSKY 62, VAN BUREN 15
106 — Dyer (US) tech. fall Corey, 20-5.
113 — Mengerink (US) pinned Lewis, 1:18.
120 — Richmond (US) won by forfeit.
126 — Hansen (US) won by forfeit.
132 — Haycook (US) won by forfeit.
138 — Landrum (US) won by forfeit.
145 — Gillen (US) won by forfeit.
152 — Kenner (US) pinned Frost, 1:03.
160 — Sonnenberg (VB) pinned Frey, 4:59.
170 — Payne (US) won by forfeit.
182 — Pritchard (US) pinned Whitacre, 1:47.
195 — Atchison (VB) dec. Crawford, 5-3.
220 — Baker (US) dec. Oler, 1-0.
285 — Sexton (VB) pinned Overgaard, 1:05.