LIMA – Young wrestling teams need a veteran leader.
Lima Central Catholic junior Jack Huffman is taking over that role this season.
Huffman, who competes in the 195-pound weight class, won the title at Saturday’s Spartan Invitational Wrestling Tournament.
Huffman capped off a perfect day at Saturday’s tournament by defeating Tippecanoe’s Shane Dodd in the championship match, 3-1.
As a team, the young Thunderbirds finished 14th out of 17 teams.
Tippecanoe won the team title, edging out Woodmore, 236.5-235. St. Marys had the best local performance, finishing third (209). Troy came in fourth (202.5), while Spencerville was fifth (199).
Huffman posted three pins on Saturday. However, his title match with Dodd proved to be his most challenging match of the tournament.
“I was a little nervous after the first period, with it being 0-0 and going into the last two periods,” Huffman said. “It’s wrestling, so who knows what can happen. Then, he took the lead in the second period with an escape. …You just have to do your best to keep your nerves down and be patient. And I’m thankful that I did.”
Huffman said with the majority of his team being underclassmen, he tries to lead by example.
“When you’re a young wrestler, it’s easy to get down on yourself,” Huffman said. “So, I try to help them stay positive. That’s part of wrestling – getting beat and learning from it. (LCC) coach (Paul) Basinger always says that with every match there’s a winner and a learner. And that’s what we’re working on with those guys.”
After Saturday’s tournament, Huffman’s record is 19-2.
Delphos Jefferson’s Tyler Foust won the title at 182. Foust pinned St. Marys’ Luke Lemmerman late in the second period to garner the title.
“He threw in a boot there in the beginning and I wasn’t expecting that; you don’t see that in my weight class a whole lot,” Foust said. “Luckily, I’ve run that a lot, so I knew how to get myself out of it. He was a lot stronger than I took him for.”
Delphos St. John’s junior Wes Buettner fell short Saturday, losing in the championship match at 170 to Tippecanoe’s Austin Robbins, 5-3.
Buettner, who most recently won the title at the Marion Harding Invitational and was named the Most Valuable Wrestler, said Robbins posed a tough challenge.
“He had a lot of strengths,” Buettner said. “Every time I tried to shoot, he just kept blocking. He did a good job of getting an early lead and then just blocking me off until it was over.”
Buettner has progressed to the upper weight classes over the past few seasons. As a freshman, Buettner competed at 126 and then moved up to 152, last season.
“I grew and was lifting for football,” Buettner said. “I like to get bigger and stay strong. I’m not much on cutting weight and staying in the same weight class. I think if I get stronger and bigger, it’s going to help me more than trying to stay down (in weight). Next year I want to wrestle 195.”
Paulding’s Taylor Deatrick (132) was the only other local wrestler to win a title on Saturday.