By JAMIE BAKER
VAN BUREN — Everything went Otsego’s way on Saturday.
The Knights racked up championships in three weight classes as 160-pounder Jordan Hendrix won the tournament’s Most Valuable Wrestler award at Saturday’s 36th Van Buren Invitational wrestling tournament.
Otsego had a 17½-point lead over Riverdale heading into the finals and was able extended that margin as the Knights outscored the Falcons 176-145½ for the team title.
It was the second straight year the Falcons finished second in the VBI. Carey made it back to back third-place finishes as the Blue Devils edged Elmwood 126½-124.
Otsego’s Buddy Limes pinned Fostoria’s Luke Leonard in 5:19 at 132 pounds in a rematch of last year’s district tournament fifth-place bout. Trent Soto made it back-to-back crowns for the Knights with a key 11-1 win over Riverdale’s Mitchel Matheny at 138 in a battle of returning state qualifiers.
Hendrix pulled off the stunner of the night to earn the MVW award.
He caught Van Buren junior and returning state placer Chance Sonnenberg in a 5-point move in the first period and held off a furious Sonnenberg comeback attempt to win the 160-pound weight class with a 7-5 win.
It was a solid day for the Falcons, who got championship performances from Kolten Martin at 113 pounds and Seth Knoll at 152.
The goal was to win four individual titles. But considering Riverdale had won just three VBI individual crowns during the tournament’s 36-year run, including one by head coach Duane Brodman, winning two on Saturday was something special.
Seniors Martin and Knoll joined the elite club of Riverdale wrestlers who have won VBI championships.
“We haven’t had a lot of guys from Riverdale win this tournament so I wanted to be one of them and I was feeling it out there today,” Martin said with a smile after beating Hopewell-Loudon’s Chet Swartzmiller 4-2 in the finals.
“I’m satisfied with the way I am wrestling right now. But you can’t stop, you always have to keep working to improve.”
Knoll had little trouble taking down Eastwood’s Mitchell Davidson 8-2 in the 152-pound final.
Winning a championship at Van Buren was one of Knoll’s top three goals before the season started.
“I really wanted to win today because this is a tournament I really look forward to every year because the competition is so good. It’s almost like a preview of the district tournament,” said Knoll, who recently dropped from 160 to 152 pounds.
“The goal this year is to finish in the top four at state or make the finals, and I think I’ve got a pretty good shot at 152.”
The area’s lone returning VBI champ, Liberty-Benton’s Tyler Sarreshteh, dominated the field in the 120-pound division.
Sarreshteh (19-4) recorded four straight second-period pins and stuck Wayne Trace’s Ruger Goeltzenleucher in 3:31 in the title bout.
But getting pins wasn’t first and foremost on the mind of the Eagles’ returning state placer. He accomplished his primary goal when he didn’t give up a takedown during the weekend.
“This is my favorite tournament,” said Sarreshteh, who wrestled in the prestigious Walsh Jesuit Ironman and Medina Invitationals earlier this season.
“I treat this like a home match, since I went to school here when I was younger and it is so close.
“I know everyone here and that makes it a little more special. Now that I have won two VBIs, I want to win a third next year and two state titles.”
Sophomore Damion Vitt won a well-earned title to lead Hopewell-Loudon.
After scoring a 4-2 overtime win against Otsego’s Austin Glosser in the semifinals, Vitt got all he could handle from Elmwood’s Brik Dauterman before winning the 138-pound weight class with a 2-0 decision in the finals.
It was the grind-them-out kind of match Vitt is accustomed to.
“Last year I was fourth here and this year, I planned to win,” said Vitt, who improved his record to 26-4. “I like wrestling these tough, close matches because I know it’s good preparation for the next few weeks.”
Two other area grapplers wrestled their way to titles.
Elmwood’s Jake Wise improved his record to 23-1 with a 3-1 win over Columbus Grove’s Alec Gladwell in the 170-pound title bout.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s Derek Ebbeskotte stopped Swanton’s Matt Rainey 7-5 at 195 pounds.
Ebbeskotte was just grateful to be back on the mat at the VBI after a two-year absence. He was 2-2 at the tournament as a freshman before missing the last two years following a knee injury.
In fact, ligaments came off the knee his sophomore year and the bone around the knee died. He had to have holes drilled in his knee when it was surgically repaired.
It was a long road back to the mat for the O-G senior.
“Winning here is huge. I missed wrestling like crazy and wanted to come back last year but it just wasn’t possible,” Ebbeskotte said.
“I have a lot of goals for this year, and hopefully, this is just the start.”
1, Otsego 176. 2, Riverdale 145½. 3, Carey 126½. 4, Elmwood 124. 5, Eastwood 106. 6, Hopewell-Loudon 100. 7, Columbus Grove 97½. 8, Wayne Trace 96. 9, Gibsonburg 93. 10, Delphos Jefferson 89. 11, Van Buren 85. 12, Ottawa-Glandorf 79½. 13, Fremont St. Joseph 72. 14, Fostoria 71½. 15, Lakota 54½. 16, Allen East 54. 17, Liberty-Benton 53. 18, Bluffton 46. 19, Lincolnview 45. 20, Swanton 41½. 21, Arcadia 36. 22, Cory-Rawson 25. 23, Fostoria St. Wendelin 25. 24, McComb 11. 25, North Baltimore 10. 26, Seneca East 4.
106 — Clemens (WT) pinned J. Pratt (Car), 3:49.
113 — Martin (Riv) dec. Swartzmiller (H-L), 9-4.
120 — Sarreshteh (L-B) pinned Goeltzenleucher (WT), 3:31.
126 — Limes (Ots) pinned Leonard (Fos), 5:19.
132 — Soto (Ots) maj. dec. Matheny (Riv), 12-1.
138 — Vitt (H-L) dec. Dauterman (Elm), 2-0.
145 — Caris (East) dec. Vasquiez (FSJ), 6-4.
152 — Knoll (Riv) dec. Davidson (East), 8-2.
160 — Hendrix (Ots) dec. Sonnenberg (VB), 7-5.
170 — Wise (Elm) dec. Gladwell (CG), 3-1.
182 — Auld (Gib) maj. dec. Selhorst (CG), 10-2.
195 — Ebbeskotte (O-G) dec. Rainey (Swan), 7-5.
220 — Mancha (FSJ) dec. Sauber (Car), 7-3.
285 — Durbin (FSJ) dec. Sexton (VB), 7-2.
106 — Grant (DJ) pinned Palomo (O-G) 2:37
113 — Caprella (AE) maj. dec. Rodriguez (Lin), 10-2.
120 — Reisinger (Swan) tech. fall Dues (AE), 19-2.
126 — T. Bowman (Arc) dec. Sampson (CG), 4-2.
132 — Schmeltz (Gib) dec. Smith (Fos) 5-4.
138 — Glosser (Ots) dec. Soules (AE), 7-2.
145 — Hall (Elm) dec. Brodman (Car), 5-1.
152 — Tercha (Ots) dec. Ferguson (Car), 6-2.
160 — Hartman (C-R) pinned Frey (Riv), 5:39.
170 — Henline (Gib) pinned Myers (H-L), 3:38.
182 — Hicks (Lin) dec. Foust (DJ), 10-6, OT.
195 — Whitticar (VB) dec. Racheter (Car), 4-2.
220 — Tracy (Riv) pinned McConnahea (DJ), 4:09.
285 —Pfeister (Riv) dec. Kinsinger (L-B), 6-3.
106 — Jacobs (Ots) dec. Brubaker (CG), 12-10, OT.
113 — Struble (Fos) dec. Beckford (Lak), 7-0.
120 — Brown (East) maj. dec. Badiel-Luna (Blu), 16-2;
126 — Young (H-L) pinned Baxter (WT), 2:25.
132 — J. Bowman (Arc) dec. Brock (H-L), 7-5.
138 — D. Pratt (Car) dec. Williams (FSW), 10-8.
145 — Vasquez (Gib) dec. Vermule (DJ), 8-4.
152 — Grossman (Elm) pinned Recker (O-G), 3:42.
160 — Matheny (Fos) dec. Jaso (Lak), 3-0.
170 — Reel (WT) pinned Alt (Blu), 2:06.
182 — Zuhlsdorf (Ots) pinned Johnson (Car), 3:46.
195 — Kitchen (Ots) dec. Meggitt (NB), 4-0.
220 — Miranda (VB) pinned Tudor (East), 3:56.
285 — Gibson (O-G) pinned Hagemyer (Elm), 1:34.