LIMA — Last year, Bath’s Collin Mell made it to the Division II state wrestling tournament, where he went 0-2.
This season, Mell, a senior, has turned up the intensity in hopes of taking it one step further.
At Saturday’s Spartan Wrestling Invitational at Lima Senior, Mell came out aggressive, winning all four matches, en route to the title in the 145-pound weight class.
In his semifinal match, Mell handed Ada’s Chase Sumner his first loss of the season, by pinning him in just 47 seconds. Then, he manhandled Wauseon’s Jarrett Bischoff in the finals match with a 14-4 major-decision. Sumner went on to place third.
Saturday’s 145-pound weight class was undoubtedly the most competitive out of the 14 classes, as Mell (23-1) faced two state-placers. Last season, Sumner placed eighth in Division III in the 138-pound weight class, while Bischoff finished sixth at 120 pounds in Division II.
“I was ready to wrestle, as soon as I woke up this morning,” Mell said. “I knew I was going to have one of the toughest brackets in the tournament, if not the toughest. I was going to come out ready to wrestle. I wasn’t worried about anything else. I’ve been practicing really hard this past couple weeks. I was ready to wrestle today.”
In the semifinal match against Sumner, Mell didn’t waste any time, as he locked up with the Ada standout and quickly took him to the mat.
“He wanted to tie up with me,” Mell said. “He’s a real physical wrestler. He was throwing deep under hooks, and I’m really good from that position. So, I was ready for that.”
In the championship bout, Mell dominated from start to finish.
“I was just ready to wrestle in that match,” Mell said about his title bout. “He (Bischoff) placed (at the state tournament) last year, and getting that win under my belt is just fantastic.”
Mell points to his aggressive approach as the key to his success this season.
“I’ve been getting really comfortable with my offense. It’s just becoming crunch time now. That (getting back to the state tournament) is all I’m focused on right now,” he said.
As a team, Bath finished seventh Saturday.
For the first part of last season, Lima Senior’s Naeem Russell had all the momentum on his side.
Then, he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
So far this campaign, Russell, a junior, looks to be on course for a solid postseason run.
Russell won the title in the 160-pound weight class at Saturday’s Spartan Wrestling Invitational, improving his record to 24-1.
Russell defeated Little Miami’s Sean Buschur in Saturday’s title match, by tech-fall, 26-10.
“I try to set the pace. I want to get on and off the mat,” Russell said. “So, that really motivated me to work hard during this (title) match.”
At last year’s Spartan Invite, Russell lost to the eventual Division III state champion, Mechanicsburg’s Tanner Smith (145), in the finals.
Soon after last year’s Spartan Invite, Russell suffered the devastating knee injury.
“I cried right after I hurt it,” Russell said about last year’s injury. “I tried to wrestle on it, but my parents wouldn’t let me. They told me that I’ve got two more years, and I had to be smart. So, I didn’t wrestle.”
Russell is focused on both staying healthy and getting prepared for the postseason tournament.
“I have a lot of stuff to work on, but I’m getting there,” Russell said. “I haven’t peaked yet. So, I’m getting ready for that. I’m working hard in the (wrestling) room every day.”
On Saturday, Lima Senior tied with Toledo Rogers for 14th as a team.
In Saturday’s final team standings, Little Miami won the title, defeating second-place Eastwood 306.5-213. St. Marys (147) finished third, while Wauseon (146.5) was fourth in the 16-team field. Little Miami garnered five individual titles on Saturday.
Other champions on Saturday were Cory-Rawson’s Deontae Davis (182), Eastwood’s Bryce Maynard (106), Brandon Hahn (113) and Jacob Hahn (138), Little Miami’s Cole Gintert (120), Brandon Metz (170), Grant Frith (195), Ben Blevins (220) and Michael Magill (285), Paulding’s Ryan Woodring (126) and Logan Mudel (132), and Van Buren’s Tyler Ludwig (152).
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.