By JAMIE BAKER
It’s the middle of the second full week of the prep wrestling season and everyone around the area has at least a few matches under their belts.
Upper Sandusky appears to be the top squad around the area in Divisions II and III.
The Rams are coming off an outstanding season in which they earned a trip to the first OHSAA Division III state dual meet tournament and finished second to Delta in the Division III Northwest District individual tournament.
Coach Chris Rodriguez’ Upper Sandusky team appears loaded again with returning state qualifiers back.
Senior Alex Kenner is back after placing sixth at state for the Rams last season. District champ Tylor Pritchard, who is trying to work his way back into shape after a football injury, Thurston Dyer, Carson Mengerink and Dylan Robertson are the other returning state qualifiers for the Rams.
Upper Sandusky is also seeing a big boost in numbers after last year’s successful season with a 34-man roster.
The Rams do face a huge challenge as they try and duplicate last year’s postseason success. According to the wrestling divisions set by enrollment every two year, Upper Sandusky has moved up from Division III to Division II and will face a much more rugged road to the state tournament this season.
Two other state placers and two state qualifiers also return for their respective teams.
Liberty-Benton junior Tyler Sarreshteh finished fourth at state for the Eagles while Van Buren junior Chance Sonnenberg took fifth in Columbus.
Riverdale’s Seth Knoill and Koltin Martin also competed at state last season.
This will also be a year of transition for area leagues.
• Hopewell-Loudon be the site of the final Midland Athletic League wrestling tournament this season before the league breaks up at the end of the school year.
• Riverdale will host the final NCC Tournament this season as Upper Sandusky seeks to win its third straight title.
• The future of the Ohio Wrestling League, which includes Arcadia, Cory-Rawson, Van Buren and McComb, appears to be uncertain. Those four schools, along with Hopewell-Loudon, North Baltimore and Riverdale, will likely compete for a Blanchard Valley Conference wrestling championship beginning next season. Gibsonburg is the defending OWL champions while Van Buren was the pick of the coaches as the league’s preseason favorite.
Ohio Wrestling League
HEAD COACH: Bryan Whitticar (2nd year).
CONFERENCE FINISH: 2nd in Ohio Wrestling League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Austin Corey, sr., 113/120; Max Frost, jr., 152; Chance Sonnenberg, jr., 160/170; Payten Whitticar, soph., 182/195; Santos Mirando, jr., 220; Isaac Sexton, jr., 285.
TOP PROSPECTS: Noah Schumacker, fr., 120; Tanner Schroer, fr., 138; Matthew Nieset, fr., 145; Nick DeVore, soph., 160; Joe Admomanis, fr., 160; Bryce Bowers, jr., 182; Justin Waller, fr,, 120; Rolando Romero, fr., 195.
NOTABLE: Van Buren was the OWL preseason favorite in the league’s coaches poll.
HEAD COACH: Dean Kirian (1st year).
CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in Ohio Wrestling League
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Trevor Bowman, sr., 126; Jarrod Bowman, jr., 132; Vlad Sedler, jr., 138.
TOP PROSPECTS: Maddy Burns, sr., 145, Erik VanAtta, sr., 160; Brodie Counts, sr., 182; Jacob Thompson, sr., 195; Austin Simpson, soph., 132; AJ Knepper, soph., 285; Cole Cramer, fr., 170,
NOTABLE: The Bowman brothers are returning OWL champs while Trevor Bowman reached the district tournament for the Redskins last season.
HEAD COACH: Justin Parkins (7th year).
CONFERENCE FINISH: 3rd in Ohio Wrestling League
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Austin Brown, 138, sr.; Jasob Collins, sr.; Brandon Eck, 132, sr.; Dylen Hartman, 170, sr.; Devin Meyer, 152, jr.; Lance Butler, jr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Austin Miller, 126, fr.; Austin Young, 120, fr.; Michael Karhoff, 182, soph.; Matthew Kellogg, soph.
NOTABLE: The Hornets are a bit short on numbers but are bolstered by the return of four seniors including returning district placer Dylen Hartman, the MVW at the season-opening Cory-Rawson Duals.
HEAD COACH: Jim Pierce (14th year).
CONFERENCE FINISH: 4th in Ohio Wrestling League
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ryan Sammet, soph., 138; Logan Landversicht, sr., 145; Zack Harris, soph., 160; Matt Cataline, jr., 285; Damian Eaken, jr., 170.
TOP PROSPECTS: Brice Spoon, fr., 113; Elijah Swain, fr., 138; Jake Crouse, fr., 170; Joey Kollsmith, fr., 182; Jayden Taulker, jr., 195; Ryan Brooks, fr., 126; Jeff Grilliot, soph., 285; Matt Smith, fr., 220.
NOTABLE: Harris is the team’s top returning league place as he finished second behind Cory-Rawson’s Dylen Hartman in the OWL championships last season.
Midland Athletic League
HEAD COACH: Travis Traxler (2nd year).
2012-13 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 10-4/2nd in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Bernie Somers, jr., 106; Chet Swartzmiller, jr., 113; Braxton Young, soph., 126; Alex Brock, soph., 132; Vollie Brock, jr., 132; Damion Vitt, soph., 138; Elancio Velasquez, soph., 145; Dakota Magers, sr., 152; Zach Clouse, sr., 160; Tristan Myers, sr., sr., 170; Bryce Steinhauser, jr., 170; Elijah Bustillos, soph., 195; Christian Potteiger, jr., 220.
TOP PROSPECTS: Dylan Hammon, fr., 120; Mateo Muniz, fr., 126; Ryan Blaser, soph., 132; Brennen Kieffer, jr., 145; Nick Portentoso, fr., 160; Alex Sanchez, soph., 285.
NOTABLE: It’s the last year of the MAL and look for the Chieftains to make a run at the title. The Chieftains have 11 lettermen back including returning MAL champs Vitt and Brock.
HEAD COACH: Ryan Pratt (8th year).
2012-13 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 11-3/Midland Athletic League champs.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Deryk Sammet, sr., 113; Tyler Higgins, sr., 152; Kyler Dyer, jr., 132; Dylan Pratt, sr., 138; Cody Ferguson, soph., 152; Zack Brodman, jr., 145; Brady Mullholand, jr., 182; Zach Sauber, sr., 195; Seth Rehus, jr., 160; Adric Stombaugh, soph., 170.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jevyn Pratt, fr., 106; Dillon Kincade, fr., 120; Casey May, fr., 126; JoN Racheter, fr., 195; Xavier Boes, fr., 285.
NOTABLE: With nearly 30 wrestlers on the team, the Blue Devils will be deeper than most area teams. The team took a hit though already as three-time district qualifier and two-time league champ Tyler Higgins is sidelined indefinitely after shoulder surgery.
HEAD COACH: KJ West (1st year).
2012-13 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 8th in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: David Bankey, jr., 220; William Griffith, soph., 145; A.J. Hotaling, jr., 132.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kaleb Andrus, soph., 285; Gage Carles, fr., 138; Tristen Jubara, fr., 182; Zach Meggitt, soph., 195.
NOTABLE: West, who has more than a decade of coaching experience at all levels, is the new head coach at North Baltimore. His goal is to “make wrestling cool again at North Baltimore.”
Fostoria St. Wendelin
HEAD COACH: Nick Frisch (2nd year).
CONFERENCE FINISH: 9th in Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Cole Williams, sr., 132/138; Caleb Colburn, sr., 182; Austin Turner, sr., 195.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jessica Holman, fr., 106; Nick DeHaven, fr., 113; Isaiah Cassidy, fr.; Zac Dixon, 132, soph.; Maco Gonzalez, fr., 132; Joey DeHaven, soph., 145; Spencer Hipsher, fr., 145/152; Luke Volkmer, fr., 145/152; Devin Frankart, fr., 170; Rob Park, jr., 182.
NOTABLE: Numbers are up for St. Wendelin, the smallest wrestling school in the state enrollment wise. Cole Williams is a former league champ and two-time league champ for the Mohawks.
Northern Buckeye League
HEAD COACH: Dave Lee (31st year, 450-193).
2012-13 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 13-21/5th in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kieran Adamski, soph., 126/132; Jacob Wise, sr., 170/182; Austin Isaacs, jr., 170/182; Brik Dauterman, sr., 132/138; Dylan Hall, soph., 138/145; Dylan Benschoter, jr., 132/138; Mason Sibrel, sr., 182/195; Brandon Pennington, jr., 132/138; Kole Schultz, sr., 138/145; Noah Corral, jr., 132/138; Zach Baker, jr., 220/285; Nate Ramsey, jr., 160/170; Devin Uzelac, jr., 220/285.
TOP PROSPECTS: Daniel Shioemaker, fr., 106; Thomas Rhoden, fr., 120; Nick Wiseman, soph., 220; Luke Hagemyer, fr., 160/170; Jack Hagemyer, soph., 285; Wes Ridenour, soph., 145; Hayden Drain, fr., 145/152; Griffin Sperry, fr., 160; Jace Grossman, fr., 145/152; Noah Baker, fr., 145/152; Dalton Merritt, fr., 132/138; Alexander Nigh, soph., 220/285.
NOTABLE: Having Jake Wise back will certainly be a boost for the Royals who had a rare losing dual meet record last season. Wise, a district placer as a sophomore, missed all of last season with injuries.
HEAD COACH: Nick Davis (7th year, 53-133).
2012-13 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 2-15 overall/8th in Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Austin Struble, soph., 113; Lance Smith, soph., district qualifier, 126/132; Elliot Hossler, soph., district qualifier, 138; Zack Vitt, soph., 132/138; Hariket Bilodia, soph., 120/126; Luke Leonard, jr., 120/126/132, jr., district placer; Keegan Green, sr., district qualifier, 152/160; Deonte Lincoln, sr., 285; C.J. Matheny, sr., district qualifier, 152/160.
TOP PROSPECTS: Xavier Galvan, fr., 152/160; Gage Scott, fr., 182/195; Zavier Tey, fr., 120; Zack Jimmison, fr., 138; Jarret Lorenzen, fr., 170; Darius Johnson, soph., 285; Cordero Diaz, soph., 145; Brandon Gonzales, soph., 106; Caleb Gooding, sr., 145; Alex Jackson, sr., 195/220.
NOTABLE: Redmen have better numbers with 19 on the roster but 13 of those wrestlers are freshmen and sophomores. Fostoria did lose state runner-up Tony Reynolds to graduation, he’s on the team at Ohio University.
HEAD COACH: Branden Nickles (5th year).
2012-13 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 9th in Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Tyler Rockhill, soph., 126; Matt Higgins, jr,, 145; Hunter Allen, jr., 182; Austin Windle, jr., 160; Dylan Hannah, jr., 170; Noah Beach, jr., 182; Jarod Woodland, jr., 195; Brady Pitney, sr., 220; Tommy Dotson, sr., 285.
TOP PROSPECTS: Devon Emlinger, fr., 106; Nathan Price, fr., 120; Kyle Lesh, fr., 132; Nate Winegardner, soph., 170; Lucas Myers, soph., 182.
NOTABLE: The relatively new program at Ada has taken steps each season under Nickles. The goal of the Bulldogs this season is to win a trophy and finish in the top four in the Northwest Conference.
HEAD COACH: Eric Siefker (6th year).
2012-13 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 12-3/4th in Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Alec Gladwell, sr.; Brett Sampson, sr.; Tyler Schroeder, sr.; Alex Burgie, sr.; Will Selhorst, sr.; Jonah Shank, sr.; CJ Shartzer, sr.; Alex Schaffer, jr.; Christian Stechschulte, jr.; Andrew Burgie, jr.; Garrett Hauenstein, soph.; Eli Schroeder, soph.; Isaac Siefker, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Nick Ogle, jr.; David Martin, jr.; Andrew Tate, jr.; Andrew Nichols, soph.; Eli Wiswasser, soph.; Marcos Olivo, soph.; Justin Calvelage, soph.; Kyle Shafer, soph.; Preston Brubaker, fr.; Matt McKee, fr.; Jacob Otto, fr.; Adam Birkemeier, fr.
NOTABLE: Columbus Grove suffered an unbelievable string of bad luck at the end of last year. With 13 letterwinners back including state alternate Alex Schaffer the Bulldogs are hoping to compete for the NWC championship.
HEAD COACH: Jeff Kleman (17th year).
CONFERENCE FINISH: 6th in Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Colt Freeman, jr., 145; Dylan Pletcher, soph., 182; Blake Sampson, soph., 220; Nick Luke, soph., 132; Josh Bracy, sr., 170.
TOP PROSPECTS: Josh Haugh, soph., 106; James Mortimer, fr., 126; Dustin Falk, fr., 132; Anthony Badiel-Luna, sr., 132; Shawn Justus, soph., 138; Cole Wilson, fr., 152; Clay Wilson, jr., 160; Dylan Alt, jr., 160; Austin Mault, fr., 138; Dakota paxton, fr., 195.
NOTABLE: It will be a young lineup on the mat for the Pirates this season. Look for strong seasons from Luke and Freeman, who are both returning district qualifiers and senior Josh Bracy.
Northwest Ohio Athletic League
HEAD COACH: Victor Lopez (13th year).
CONFERENCE FINISH: 8th in Northwest Ohio Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Brandon Cole, sr., 152; Sydney Brewer, soph., 170; Ethan Wade, soph., 113.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kent Petersen, fr., 182; Brock Gerken, fr., 106; Tobey Hernandez, sr., 182/195; Nathan Andonian, 160, sr.; Ronnie Andonian, fr.; Brandon Bennett, soph., 285; Broden Casillas-Scott, 120, soph.; Harley Garner, 220, fr.; Kal Harris, 170, fr.; Cody Hoops, fr.; Anthony Ickes, 285, soph.; Donny Johnson, 145, soph.; Jake Miller, fr.; Manuel Pardo, 152, fr.; Chase Shank, 138, jr.; Trey Zimmer, fr.
NOTABLE: Patrick Henry has just three returning wrestlers with Cole leading the way. But things are looking up for the Patriots as Lopez has 19 wrestlers on the team including nine freshmen.
Western Buckeye League
HEAD COACH: Ken Siefker (3rd year).
CONFERENCE FINISH: 9th in Western Buckeye League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jon Basinger, jr., 120; Derek Ebbeskotte, sr., 220; Jeremy Gibson, jr., 170; Shaun Gibson, soph., 285; Jake Hahn, soph., 140; Ralph Recker, sr., 152.
TOP PROSPECTS: Logan Balbaugh, fr., 113; Alan Brown, jr., 120; Tyler Ebbbeskotte, fr., 145; Trenton Meyer, soph., 182; Tygan Nelson, fr., 126; Le’on Palomo, fr., 106; Colton Rieman, soph., 195; Cristian Santiago, sr., 160; Michael Schoeff, soph., 195; Lupe Williams, soph., 138.
NOTABLE: Better numbers this season at Ottawa-Glandorf and the Titans should be able to fill 13 of 14 weight classes when it’s all said and done. Gibson qualified for districts last season as a freshman heavyweight.
North Central Conference
HEAD COACH: Duanel Brodman (16th year).
2012-13 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 10-2/3rd in North Central Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Mitchel Matheny, jr, 132; Koltin Martin, sr., 113; Caleb Hicks, jr., 126; Austin Miller, soph., 138; Luke Bowman, jr., 145; Evan Gladden, jr., 145; Paul Frey, sr., 152; Seth Knoll, sr., 160;; Josh Bushong, jr., 182; Caleb Tracy, sr., 220; Justin Pfeister, sr., 285.
TOP PROSPECTS: A.J. Reed, fr., 106; Gage White , soph., 120; Owen Palmer, soph., 171; Ryan Cole, soph., 195; Dakota Kleman, soph., 220; Brandon Duffman, soph., 195; Chris Myers, sr., 145.
NOTABLE: Knoll and Martin became the school’s first state qualifiers last season and both return.
HEAD COACH: Chris Rodriguez (6th year).
CONFERENCE FINISH: North Central Conference champs.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Thurston Dyer, soph., 113; Derek Hanson, sr., 126; Carson Mengerink, sr., 132; Matt Haycook, sr., 138; Luis Ayala, jr., 145; Alex Kenner, sr., 160; Nate Payne, jr., 170; Dylan Robertson, sr., 220; Tylor Pritchard, sr., 195; Troy Landrum, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Keegan Gullifer, soph., 120; James Jones, soph., 152; Noah Frey, fr., 182; Tanner Smalley, fr., 195; Colin Brown, soph., 285.
NOTABLE: It would be an understatement to say that there is plenty of returning talent for the Rams. Pritchard and Kenner are returning district champs while Thurston Dyer, Carson Mengerink and Dylan Robertson are also returning state qualifiers.