The Wapakoneta Redskins bounced back from a disappointing start to the varsity wrestling season to post a 46-34 win over the Van Wert Cougars on Tuesday at Wapakoneta High School.
Wapak struggled in the Findlay Trojan Duals on Saturday. But the young Redskins squad showed resilience in the Western Buckeye League dual-meet opener.
“We improved a lot from Saturday,” Redskins varsity coach Jason Rostorfer said. “It was the first time a lot of these freshmen got to wrestle varsity, so they were a little nervous and apprehensive. ...
“We still have a long way to go. We made a lot of mistakes we shouldn’t have made. But they’re young. I thought our older guys wrestled well. We’re blessed with good leaders this year. Our junior class, they do a really good job of bringing the younger guys along.”
The Redskins lost several key wrestlers to graduation last year. The 2011-2012 team is young, with just one senior (Derick Dean), four juniors, five sophomores and nine freshmen.
“Any coach in any sport will tell you that, when you lose a lot of talent and you’ve got young guys taking their place, it’s a different team chemistry and makeup,” Rostorfer said. “The hardest thing as a coach is finding what makes every kid tick. If you can find that button that you can push and that motivation, you’re going to get a lot further along.”
Thanks to a pair of early pins, Van Wert jumped out to a 16-0 lead before the Redskins clawed their way back into the match thanks to back-to-back pins.
Junior Holden Hengstler (170 pounds) notched a pin just 31 seconds into his match. And classmate Alec Brown (182) did the deed at the 1:31 mark.
Freshman Colton Brown (195), the younger brother of Alec Brown, tied the meet at 16-16 with a 16-2 decision.
Then sophomore Jarred Carpenter, wrestling at 220, pinned his opponent in just 13 seconds to give Wapak the 22-16 lead.
Junior John “J.T.” Martin (106) also won by a pin at the 46-second mark. But a pair of Wapak voids left the score tied 28-28 with four bouts to go.
The Redskins finished strong, winning three of the four, all by pin.
Sophomore Jordan Kaeck (120) won at :27, freshman Dallas Ambos (132) at 5:27, and junior Nate Valentine (138) at 3:14.
Wapak returns to action Saturday at the Firebird Classic. The Redskins’ next home match is Tuesday, Dec. 20 in a tri-match against Indian Lake and an opponent to be determined.