The second part of the wrestling season began at Archbold High School when the Division III sectional wrestling tournament took place, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19-20.
Six Blue Streaks move on to the district tournament, looking to book their ticket for the chance to wrestle in the state tournament.
Delta was the team champion, scoring 298 points.
Archbold was second with 175. Rounding out the top five were Tinora 155, Swanton 134, Ayersville 117.5 and Montpelier 107.
Noah Mattin (126 pounds), Mitchell Hogrefe (160 lbs.) and David Bell (170 lbs.) won individual sectional titles.
Garrett Grime (152 lbs.) was second. Gavin Grime (120 lbs.) and Austin Wilson (138 lbs.) placed third.
The top four in each weight class advance.
“I thought we’d get eight out,” said Brian Becher, AHS head coach.
“We lost five go-to matches. A couple of those I’m pretty sure we should have won, but that’s the nature of the beast sometimes.”
Wilson returned to the team after having surgery to repair a broken ankle six weeks ago. It was originally thought that the returning junior state alternate would miss the remainder of the season, but rehabilitation and time allowed him to return to continue his goal of making the state tournament.
“Austin looks great on his feet, but he’s obviously not in the best of shape,” said Becher.
“It’s nice to see that his technique is still pretty solid.”
The first AHS individual to win a sectional championship, Mattin was the first seed in his weight class.
After advancing to the second round with a bye, Mattin defeated Hicksville’s Armon Haver with a 1:19 fall to advance to the semifinals, where he scored a fall over Sean Martin in 48 seconds.
In the finals, Mattin controlled the pace and style of his match with Delta’s C.J. Leffler, defeating the Panther 2-0 to claim a sectional title.
The finals match “kind of reminded of a collegiate match where there’s not a lot of point differential and people see it in the paper and think he barely won,” said Becher.
“I don’t think there was much doubt during the match who controlled the situations and who controlled the pace of the match.
“(There’s) a little more pressure there than some of his other matches, even just other than the aspect of being a championship match on a personal level for him.”
Hogrefe was the surprise of the tournament.
Coming in as the fifth-seeded wrestler, Hogrefe received a first-round bye, and then defeated fourth-seeded Juan Castillo of Tinora with a 3:35 fall to advance to the semis.
Colin Hoffman, a returning state qualifier from Delta and the number-one seed, was Hogrefe’s next opponent. The Blue Streak senior had little trouble disposing of the Panther, scoring a fall in 1:25.
In the finals, Hogrefe squared off against Montpelier’s Austin Grubb. The two faced each other three times, with Grubb getting the better of Hogrefe twice.
It was Hogrefe having success this time as he defeated Grubb by a 17-5 major decision and advanced to his first district tournament.
“I think that’s a big confidence booster for him going into next weekend,” said Becher. “The expectation now is for him to get a win in the first match on Friday.”
Bell is a three-time district qualifier, but it was his first sectional title.
Bell was seeded first and received a bye in the first round.
In the second round, Bell defeated Paulding’s Ben Estle with a 50-second fall. He then pinned Tinora’s Chris Hahn in 2:31 to advance to the finals, where Ayersville’s Nate Fry was his opponent.
Bell made it a perfect three-for-three when he decked the Pilot in 3:19 with a lateral throw to secure his first title.
“He’s obviously a great thrower,” said Becher, “but the issue with him sometimes is he goes out there and just wants to throw.
“If he uses his leg attacks to set it up he can continue to do that and score some from the neutral position, and then the big move will present itself.”
The Div. III district wrestling tournament is Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26-27, at Toledo Waite High School.
Wrestling begins at 4 p.m. on Friday and 10 am on Saturday, with finals beginning one hour after the final session on Saturday.
“We’re not going to change much up,” said Becher.
“We’ll try to go more intense practices, shorten things up.
“Hopefully get some other teams in here to roll around with a little bit; but, if not, we’ll make due.”