One-third of the Wapakoneta Redskins’ lineup advanced to districts on Saturday, the second day of the Division II sectional wrestling tournament in Bowling Green.
Five Redskins needed just one win Saturday to become district qualifiers, four of them managed at least one win including Heath Newman who won two straight matches to win a sectional championship.
The Redskins scored 121 points and earned fifth place Saturday on the final day of the Division II Northwest District South Sectional tournament at the Stroh Center on the campus of Bowling Green State University, as part of the state individual wrestling championships.
Newman, a junior, claimed the 170-pound title with two straight wins in the championship bracket Saturday.
Newman outlasted Bryan senior Brock Nagel in the finals, winning in a 12-10 decision after trailing 5-0 earlier in the match.
“You like to see that,” Wapak coach Jason Rostorfer said about Newman’s comeback win. “A lot of guys will panic when they’re down several points. He didn’t panic. He’s got enough experience now. He kept wrestling. He stuck to his game plan. That’s the way Heath wrestles. He keeps coming at the guy.
“It was huge for him, from a confidence standpoint.”
Nagel was 38-4 entering the finals match and pinned each of his first three opponents before facing Newman.
In the first round at districts on Friday, Newman will face Eaton junior Levi Gilbert, whom Newman beat earlier this season.
Redskins junior Colton Brown lost a narrow 4-3 decision to Perkins senior John Workman in the 195-pound semifinals but bounced back with two straight pins in the consolation bracket to place third.
Brown’s two pins Saturday came against Western Buckeye League opponents, Bath senior Jordan Mikesell and Kenton junior Sylas Smith.
Wapak junior Dallas Ambos lost his 145-pound semifinal match by pin to eventual sectional champion, Clyde senior Beau Minnick, but solidified his district berth with a 5-3 sudden victory over Defiance senior Seth Meyer.
Ambos then lost the third-place match on a 7-3 decision.
“Dallas Ambos had a really tough match against the Defiance kid,” Rostorfer said. “We knew it would be a good match. It was close.
“That’s a big accomplishment. Our sectional was tough. It was very competitive.”
Ambos edged Meyer by one point in the third-place match of the Western Buckeye League tournament on Feb. 1.
Redskins freshman Landon Hall dropped a 5-0 decision to Perkins senior Dylan Hermes, who won all three of his sectional matches en route to the 182-pound title without allowing a point.
Hall pinned Defiance sophomore Eli Osborne to clinch his district spot before losing a 2-1 decision to Shawnee sophomore Dylan Hefner in the third-place match, finishing in fourth for the tournament.
Rostorfer explained his thoughts on the three other district qualifiers.
“The first thing is they were able to overcome a loss in the semifinals, except for Heath,” the coach said.
“Unfortunately, they came up short in the semifinals. When that happens, you go from being in a match where you automatically qualify (for districts) to the next match where if you lose your season is over, all in an hour-and-a-half. A lot of times guys don’t get much time to turn it around from the semifinals to the next match. They’re the same guy physically but not always the same guy mentally. I was happy they were able to rebound quickly and be able to get through the next match in the consolation semifinals.
“Our sectional is very tough. Getting out is an accomplishment.”
Wapak’s other semifinalist after Friday’s action, senior Jordan Kaeck, had a tough day Saturday, losing all three of his matches to place sixth in the 132-pound bracket.
The remainder of Wapak’s wrestlers started Saturday’s action in the consolation bracket, where they each needed three straight wins to qualify for districts.
A pair of Wapak sophomores nearly pulled off a district appearance starting from within the consolation bracket Saturday.
Drew Robenalt and Dylan Plaugher each won their first two matches Saturday before dropping the third.
Robenalt won the fifth-place match via a forfeit. Plaugher pinned his opponent to win the fifth-place match.
“Both lost significant time due to injury this season,” Rostorfer said. “For them to come back and put together a good season at the end, they didn’t make top four but they were able to place. Placing there at the sectional was an accomplishment for them and hopefully a motivator and a stepping stone for next year.
“Hopefully, they see this as proof and motivation that they can compete at this level. That will be my talk with them going into the offseason. They just need to fine-tune some skills, and they’ll be right there next year.”
Robenalt and Plaugher will each be district alternates in their respective weight classes.
In the 160-pound weight class, Wapak freshman Cordell Newman advanced in the consolation bracket via forfeit in his first match Saturday before losing a 4-3 decision to Defiance senior Zach Botek in his next match.
Redskins senior Jarred Carpenter had to withdraw from the tournament Saturday due to an injury.
Carpenter finished his senior season with a 25-8 record, recording the most wins on the team this winter.
In the 285-pound bracket, Wapak junior David Duncan spent virtually no time on the mat in his first match Saturday, pinning Bryan sophomore Christian Riddle in 19 seconds. Duncan was then pinned by Bath senior Caleb Neal.
The Redskins’ four district qualifiers will return to Bowling Green this coming week for the next round of the individual state tournament.
The Stroh Center at BGSU will host the Division II and Division III NW District championships simultaneously Friday and Saturday.
Rostorfer provided what focus his remaining wrestlers will need to have entering the district tournament.
“We talk about going out and competing,” he said. “You get to this level and all of the kids are good. There are no easy matches anymore. The difference between winning and losing is small. The talent level is pretty even.
“Their focus right now needs to be wrestling their match and competing as hard as they can and wrestling to their ability. If they do that, they can be proud of their accomplishments. They need to work this week, shoring up any mistakes we saw on video this weekend.
“We’ll take one match at a time and do our best to get somebody to Columbus this year.”
The top four placers in each weight class at districts will advance to the state tournament Feb. 27, Feb. 28 and March 1 at The Ohio State University in Columbus.