January 17, 2009
LIMA -Bath's wrestling team is buying into the system.
At Saturday's Spartan Invitational at Lima Senior, Bath found itself in the heat of the battle for the team title among 17 teams.
However, in the end, Kettering Fairmont slipped past the Wildcats, 295.5-290 to claim the crown.
Coldwater, which led through the first three rounds, settled for third (289), while Shawnee finished fourth (256.5).
Bath second-year coach Clayton Westerbeck said his squad has bought into his system and it is starting to pay dividends.
"Wrestling is a team sport in every sense," Westerbeck said. "They work hard in the practice room ... and that's where it starts.
"I have four assistants and we all wrestle with them at practice. We want them to get a feel for different styles."
Westerbeck, a Sidney native, was a Division II national champion when he competed at the University of Findlay.
Bath had a total of three champions on the day. Wally McGinnis won the title at 140 pounds. Matt Hefner won at 135, while freshman Zavier Meeks kept his perfect record (26-0) in tact by winning the crown at 125.
Meeks pointed to his coach's philosophy as a key factor to the team's success this season.
"The credit goes to coach Westerbeck on how he works us," Meeks said. "He really pushes us to get better and he keeps us focused."
Meeks said that being an underclassmen and taking on the more experienced wrestlers is not a difficult task for him.
"I kind of like being a freshman, so I can go out and show that I can wrestle with them," he said.
Hefner, who was a state qualifier last season, said this year's team has good chemistry.
"We're a really close team," Hefner said. "We really push each other hard at practice. We have some pretty good freshmen this season."
Shawnee recorded two champions on Saturday. Senior Kyler Washam showed no ill effects from an early-season knee surgery as he won the title at 160. Washam's teammate Colin McDermit won the crown at 119.
Shawnee first-year coach Nick Sanchez said his team is showing improvement as the year progresses.
"Our overall performance was pretty good," Sanchez said. "We always want to do a little better. The kids have been working hard. We'll take this and build on it."
Delphos Jefferson's Stuart Miller barely worked up a sweat as he cruised through the day to win the title at 215. Miller is still undefeated after 23 matches this season.
Miller, who was runner-up at last year's state tournament (189), was named the Most Valuable Wrestler of the Spartan Invitational.
Trent Muhlenkamp was the lone champion for Coldwater, winning the title at 145.