By JAMIE BAKER
VAN BUREN — It wasn’t the finish head coach Bryan Whitticar and his Black Knight wrestlers were looking for on their home mats Saturday at the 36th Van Buren Invitational.
For the second straight year, Van Buren juniors Chance Sonnenberg and Isaac Sexton reached the championship match but lost.
Sonnenberg, a returning state placer, lost for just the second time in 20 matches this season when he dropped a 7-5 decision to Otsego’s Jordan Hendrix in the 160-pound final.
Sexton (18-2) lost 7-2 to two-time VBI champ Corey Durbin of Fremont St. Joseph in the heavyweight final.
“It’s disappointing but we just got to keep working and plugging away. We can’t just be satisfied with making the finals,” Van Buren coach Bryan Whitticar said. “We’re getting to that point, but we’re not quite there yet.
Payten Whitticar rebounded from a quarterfinal loss to Carey’s Jon Racheter and won four straight consolation matches to finish third at 195 pounds. He avenged his earlier defeat with a 4-2 win over Racheter in the finals. Teammate Santos Miranda added a fifth-place finish at 215 pounds.
UNSEEDED FINALIST: Carey’s Zack Sauber came into the VBI with just a 5-5 record but knocked off the fourth and first seeds to reach the 220-pound finals before falling to Fremont St. Joseph’s Bobby Mancha 7-3 in the finals.
Jevyn Pratt (106) was also second in another strong tournament showing for coach Ryan Pratt’s Blue Devils who finished with six placers.
L-B DEBUT: Liberty-Benton’s Tyler Sarreshteh was joined on the awards stand by teammate Grant Kinsinger, who finished fourth in the 285-pound division.
Kinsinger, who is a member of Liberty-Benton’s first-year junior varsity team, turned a few head as he made his varsity debut a memorable one by finishing fourth. The Eagles’ junior gave Durbin his toughest match of the weekend in the semifinals when he lost a 5-1 decision.
TOP DOGS: A pair of Columbus Grove senior wrestlers also had solid weekends.
Alec Gladwell and Will Selhorst posted back-to-back runner-up finishes for the Bulldogs at 170 and 182 pounds respectively. Gladwell (15-2) dropped a 3-1 decision to Elmwood’s Jake Wise in the finals. Selhorst (16-4) dropped a 10-2 major decision to Gibsonburg’s Jacob Auld.
WELCOME BACK: Longtime VBI participants Fostoria St. Wendelin and North Baltimore were back in the tournament this season after short hiatuses and both had a placer.
Cole Williams led the Mohawks by finishing sixth at 138 pounds while Zach Meggitt was the top finisher for the Tigers taking sixth at 195.
CLASS OF THE FIELD: The 160-pound weight class was perhaps the toughest at the 26-team event. Cory-Rawson’s Dylen Hartman, a state alternate last season for the Hornets, pinned Riverdale’s Paul Frey in the battle for third place at 160. The two wrestlers have combined for a 51-6 record between then this season.
FOUR THIRDS: Other area third-place finishes at the VBI came from Arcadia’s Trevor Bowman (126), Elmwood’s Dylan Hall (145) and Riverdale’s Caleb Tracy (220) and Justin Pfeister (285).
By JAMIE BAKER