DEFIANCE — Coming into this season, Wapakoneta varsity coach Jason Rostorfer knew if the Redskins were going to three-peat as Western Buckeye League champions it would take hard work, dedication and a little bit of that Redskin mojo.
Not only did the Redskins have a target coming into this season on their back as the defending champs but they had lost a core of quality seniors to graduation and were not as experienced as past Wapakoneta teams.
However, the enthusiastic and talented Redskins were up to the task as they captured the WBL title for the third consecutive year and their 12th in school history by winning the league tournament Saturday at Defiance High School.
The Redskins, who went unbeaten in dual meets this year with a 9-0 mark, totaled 174 points to garner top tournament honors. Elida finished second with 138 points and Defiance rounded out the top three with 131 points.
“Every time you get a chance to win it is special but this year is unique because we lost a good, talented senior class and we knew coming into this season we were going to be young and we kind of stumbled coming out of the blocks this season up at Findlay and didn’t do as well as we wanted to but these are young and hard-working and they have done everything we have asked them to do and they bought into the system and the results speak for themselves,” Rostorfer said. “I am very proud of them and this one we had to work every second for it and that makes it worth it.”
Rostorfer added that their motto this year was that if you wanted an individual title you would have to “earn it.”
Unlike last year when the Redskins crowned seven individual titles, Wapak earned a trio of individual titles but were bolstered by seven wrestlers scoring top-four finishes.
Wapakoneta’s most impressive individual champion had to be junior standout J.T. Martin in the 106 lbs. weight class. The two-time state qualifier won his third WBL title with a first-period pin of St. Marys’ Kaleb Chaney in the bracket final. All three of Martin’s victories came by pin.
Not be overshadowed by Martin’s performance, Holden Hengstler also repeated as a WBL champion by pinning Elida’s Tyler Smith in the second period of the championship match. Like Martin, Hengstler pinned all three of his opponents in the 170 lbs. division.
Rounding out the Redskin trio of individual champions was senior Alec Brown who took home the 182 lbs. division crown by defeating Elida’s Eli Dukehart with a 15-7 major decision in the championship final. In his two wins leading to the final Brown recorded pins en route to his title.
The lone Redskin to lose in the final round and finish second was Nate Valentine who lost a tough 11-7 to Bath’s Zavier Meeks in the 138 lbs. division.
Notching third place finishes for the Redskins were Dallas Ambos in the 126 lbs. weight class, Colton Brown in the 195 lbs. weight class and Nick Warner in the 285 lbs. class.
Derick Dean, in the 120 lbs. division, Justin Dausch, in the 145 lbs. division and Jarred Carpenter in the 220 lbs. division, all finished fourth.
“This was a team win,” Rostorfer said. “We had three champs but we had a lot of guys get second and third and that is a lot of place points. Elida wrestled well today as Defiance also did today so it was nice to get the win.”
In addition to celebrating another WBL title, Rostorfer said some one of the highlights of the day was the tenacity of Ambos to battle back and score his third place.
Ambos, who won a thrilling 5-4 last-second victory over Defiance’s Cisco Chavez, after the Redskin freshman scored a one escape point as the whistled sounded to end the match.
“He upset the No. 2 seed in the quarter final (beating Cisco 4-3), lost in the semifinals but come back through and wrestle the same kid and it is always hard to beat the same kid twice and won a close match again and Dallas is making huge strides,” Rostorfer said. “We had a lot of freshmen wrestle well for us today.”
Rostorfer said the victory is encouraging because there are only two seniors on the squad and he sees a bright future. However, this WBL title celebration will be short-lived as the Redskins prepare for another run towards state.
“We take this and enjoy it and then Monday we will get ready for sectionals,” Rostorfer said.