For the first time in school history, the Wapakoneta Redskins wrestling team will be competing in the state tournament this weekend in Columbus.
The following week six Redskin wrestlers, which includes two district champions, and an alternate will compete as individuals at the state tournament after qualifying at districts last weekend.
For avid Redskins wrestling fans who remember Aaron and Brent Miller and Logan Erb and who this year have followed J.T. Martin, Nate Valentine and others — they and Redskin sports fans in general need to remember these wrestlers because they are the Wapakoneta Redskins seventh- and eighth-grade wrestlers and they are primed to compete at the high school level.
“These kids have battled all year long, and when you compare them from the start of the season with the end of the season I can see a night-and- day difference,” third-year coach Adam Stahler said. “The kids wrestled really hard at the end of the season and at the district qualifier to qualify as a team to go to state. They fell just short of first place where they wrestled a very, very tough Graham Middle School program, losing by just five points to them. We ended up taking second place.
“They battled through a number of different hurdles and obstacles and worked hard all year long,” said Stahler, who wrestled with Wapakoneta Redskins varsity wrestling coach Jason Rostorfer. “This will be the first Wapakoneta Junior High team to qualify for the OAC (Ohio Athletic Committee) state duals so it is a big honor to be a part of that.”
The starting line-up for the Redskins finished with an overall record of 430 wins and 113 loses. The team features nine wrestlers with five or fewer loses and other wrestlers who came on strong at the end.
During the season, the Wapakoneta Middle School wrestling team competes under Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) rules and wrestles at weights starting at 74 pounds and tops out at 249 pounds.
Twenty-one wrestlers are traveling to Worthington Kilbourne High School Sunday to compete at state as a team. Adams is assisted by Brian Cossel and Nick Sammetinger, former high school wrestlers. During the season they wrestle under OHSAA rules, but OHSAA does not sanction a state tournament so they wrestle through OAC.
Adams attributes the season-long improvement of his team to their mindset.
“I think they reason they got better was just the fact they loved being in the wrestling room, everyone showed up for practice, very little excuses, they worked hard and they bought into the program that the coaches have put together,” Adams said.
With Rostorfer’s high school Redskins already cultivating a strong reputation around the state, Adams said he hopes to build on that and wants this group to be the foundation for a strong reputation at the middle school level.
“We also want to expose the kids to all different wrestling styles,” Adams said. “Around this particular area, most of the teams are pretty good wrestling on their feet and they will learn those in the northwest area are better wrestlers on the mat. My biggest objective is to expose them to the different levels and styles to prepare them so they can succeed at the high school level.”
Adams said he concentrates on teaching them single-leg and double-leg shoots from the stand-up position and half-nelson and cross-face cradle on the mat.
Redskins fans need to be prepared for some up-and-comers. Adams said the team is led by Tyler Copeland, at 114 pounds, who is 34-1 on the season, and Landon Hall, at 154 pounds, who also sports a 34-1 record. They wrestle all season and with club sports teams during other parts of the year.
The domination does not end there. Luke Beach sports an 18-2 record at 74 pounds, Chase Sumner finished 24-1 at 84 pounds, A.J. Selvaggio dominated at 26-2 at 90 pounds and Jayden Hefner competed a 30-4 regular season.
At the upper weight classes, Bo Gross, who wrestles at 176 pounds, put together a 28-3 regular season and that does not include the wrestlers who have put together a solid season and came on strong at the end. He also discussed Ryan Lowden, who finished the year 29-7, who did well to move on.
Adams’ praise did not stop with that group. He heaped praise on Trenton Binkley, Jacob Brown, Wyatt Moyler, Garrett Miller, Darin Dean, Cal Miller and Alex and Adam Walter. He also talked about the improvement of C.J. Reser, Garret Miller, Cordell Newman, Markus South, Charlie Jockers and Austin Moore.
“The whole team from top to bottom has wrestled beyond my expectations,” Adams said. “Tyler Copeland, Landon Hall, Jayden Hefner and Ryan Lowden — all four kids have wrestled extremely well all year long.”
The Redskins had 11 wrestlers compete at the district tournament with seven moving on to the state tournament March 1 through March 3. This is the individual tournament at Youngstown.
Of the seven qualifying, Copeland and Hall won district championships for their weight class. Beach and Hefner are joining them at state.
Newman, at 146 pounds, brings his 28-7 record and Jockers, who sports a 28-9 record at the 164-pound class also is moving on as is Lowden, who wrestles at 209 pounds.
Four others competed at the district, just missing a chance to travel to Youngstown.
Brown, at 108 pounds, finished the year at 24-9, while Moyler competed at 114 pounds and finished the year at 15-12. Dean, who had a 13-16 record, competed well at 120 pounds and Miller, at 128 pounds, finished the season with a 28-8 record.
“I graduated high school with Jason Rostorfer and we have a long history of dealing with one another and knowing each other’s wrestling styles,” Adams said. “I think we have a great wrestling program at Wapakoneta from the kids wrestling program to the middle school to the high school and I think we work well together. I think we communicate very well and we just build on each other as the wrestlers move on up.”
Now the team is moving on up to the state tournament.