By JAMIE BAKER
VAN BUREN — The hunters have become the hunted.
And as far as the area’s returning state tournament qualifiers are concerned, that’s quite all right.
The area’s five state qualifiers competing Friday night had little trouble advancing to today’s semifinals at the 36th Van Buren Invitational.
No area school has more bull’s eyes on its backs this weekend than Riverdale.
The Falcons’ have three returning state qualifiers in seniors Kolten Martin and Seth Knoll and junior Mitchel Matheny.
The goal, according to coach Duane Brodman, is for the Falcons to win four individual titles this weekend.
Riverdale has had only three wrestlers win championships in the 36-year history of the tournament.
Martin, who advanced to the 113-pound semifinals with a pair of easy wins over Van Buren’s Austin Corey and Otsego’s Cody Camp, knows everyone he faces is going to give him his best shot.
“I expect a tough match every time I step on the mat because I know everyone wants to beat a state qualifier. That’s just the way it is,” said Martin, who improved to 24-1 and will face unbeaten Levi Beckford of Lakota in the semis.
“And to be honest, I’d rather be the frontrunner, pacesetter. I’d rather be chased than be the chaser.”
Knoll and Matheny breezed through the first two rounds of the tournament to advance to the semifinals.
Matheny pinned Columbus Grove’s Eli Schroeder for his 100th career victory in the first round and stopped Eastwood’s Mat Drown 12-0 in the quarterfinals to advance at 132 pounds.
Knoll scored a pair of pins against Ottawa-Glandorf’s Ralph Recker and Lincolnview’s Josh McKenzie in his two matches at 152 pounds.
Having three wrestlers with state tourney experience back at Riverdale has heightened everyone’s expectations.
“It’s a lot different this year. You have good workout partners every day. The intensity has raised in our practices and everyone on the team is working hard because they want to get to state, too.”
Liberty-Benton’s Tyler Sarreshteh, the area’s only defending VBI champ, is a returning state placer for the Eagles. He cruised to a pair of pins against Allen East’s Tyler Dues and Delphos Jefferson’s Daniel Lemhkule Friday.
As a state placer, Sarreshteh feels like he’s got to perform at a high level in every match.
“Last year going into the season I was a district qualifier, going in as a state placer this year is a whole different ball game,” he said.
“You have to wrestle smarter and you can’t give up stupid takedowns. It’s all about feeling like you have to defend your reputation every time you wrestle.”
Van Buren’s Chance Sonnenberg, a junior state placer, looks at things with a bit of a different perspective than the others.
“The thing I’ve noticed that’s a little different this year is that I’m having to work a lot harder out there in some of my matches,” Sonnenberg said. “It seems like they don’t even want to be out there wrestling you and I have to go really harder and attack to get after them.”
Sonnenberg (17-1) reached the 160-pound semifinals with pins against Fostoria’s CJ Matheny and Bluffton’s Josh Bracy.
Six Otsego wrestlers reached the semifinals as the Knights have an 86½-68½ lead over Riverdale. Elmwood (67), Carey (64½) and VBI newcomer Eastwood (50) complete the top five.
The tournament resumes today at 9:30 a.m. with a round of consolations followed by the semifinals. The finals are slated to begin at approximately 5 p.m.
1, Otsego 86½. 2, Riverdale 68½. 3, Elmwood 67. 4, Carey 64½. 5, Eastwood 50. 6, Columbus Grove 41½. 7, Gibsonburg 39. 8, Delphos Jefferson 37½. 9, Hopewell-Loudon 37. 10, Wayne Trace 35½. 11, Lakota 33½. 12, Van Buren 33. 13, Bluffton & Fremont St. Joseph 31. 15, Ottawa-Glandorf 30. 16, Liberty-Benton 23. 17, Arcadia 22. 18, Fostoria 19½. 19, Allen East, Lincolnview & Swanton 19. 22, Cory-Rawson 17. 23, McComb & Fostoria St. Wendelin 7. 25, Seneca East 4. 26, North Baltimore 1.
SATURDAY’S SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS
106 — George Clemens (Wayne Trace) 25-2 vs. David Grant (Delphos Jefferson) 16-12; Leon Palomo (Ottawa-Glandorf) 15-3 vs. Jevyn Pratt (Car) 12-7.
113 — Kolten Martin (Riverdale) 24-1 vs. Levi Beckford (Lakota) 5-0; Schuyler Caprella (Allen East) 12-5 vs. Chet Swartzmiller (Hopewell-Loudon) 25-5.
120 — Tyler Sarreshteh (Liberty-Benton) 17-4 vs. Eli Brown (Eastwood) 19-8; JD Reisinger (Swanton) 17-3 vs. Ruger Goeltzenleucher (Wayne Trace) 16-1.
126 — Buddy Limes (Otsego) 27-2 vs. Brett Sampson (Columbus Grove) 8-2; Trevor Bowman (Arcadia) 21-2 vs. Luke Leonard (Fostoria) 19-3.
132 — Trenton Soto (Otsego) 27-2 vs. Jarrod Bowman (Arcadia) 18-3; Alex Brock (Hopewell-Loudon) 25-4 vs. Mitchel Matheny (Riverdale) 20-1.
138 — Damion Vitt (Hopewell-Loudon 24-4 vs. Austin Glosser (Otsego) 19-11; Dylan Pratt (Carey) 8-11 vs. Brik Dauterman (Elmwood) 24-4.
145 — Zach Brodman (Carey) 20-2 vs. Sean Vasquez (Fremont St. Joseph) 20-3; Dylan Hall (Elmwood) 24-3 vs. Andrew Caris (Eastwood) 22-4.
152 — Seth Knoll (Riverdale) 25-1 vs. Riley Tercha (Otsego) 15-11; Jace Grossman (Elmwood) 20-12 vs. Mitchell Davidson (Eastwood) 22-4.
160 — Chance Sonnenberg (Van Buren) 17-1 vs. Paul Frey (Riverdale) 26-2; Jordan Hendrix (Otsego) 25-6 vs. Dylen Hartman (Cory-Rawson) 22-2.
170 — Jake Wise (Elmwood) 21-1 vs. Dylan Alt (Bluffton) 11-5; Dan Henline (Gibsonburg) 30-4 vs. Alec Gladwell (Columbus Grove) 14-1.
182 — Jacob Auld (Gibsonburg) 32-5 vs. Doug Hicks (Lincolnview) 19-5; Will Selhorst (Columbus Grove) 15-3 vs. Tyler Foust (Delphos Jefferson) 25-4.
195 — Collin Kitchen (Otsego) 9-1 vs. Matt Rainey (Swanton) 14-6; Jonathan Racheter (Carey) 12-9 vs. Derel Ebbeskotte (Ottawa-Glandorf) 15-4.
220 — Caleb Tracy (Riverdale) 18-6 vs. Zack Sauber (Carey) 7-5; Bobby Mancha (Fremont St. Joseph) 13-8 vs. Santos Miranda (Van Buren) 13-5.
285 — Corey Durbin (Fremont St. Joseph) 24-1 vs. Grant Kinsinger (Liberty-Benton) 3-2; Justin Pfeister (Riverdale) 24-2 vs. Isaac Sexton (Van Buren) 17-1.
TEAM SCORES: VBI_scrs_fri