ST. MARYS — The year was 1977.
That was the last time, and the only time, St. Marys has won a Western Buckeye League wrestling team championship.
But after 40 years, the St. Marys wrestling program has put itself in position to make a run at another team title.
In a key dual meet with rival-Celina on Thursday night, St. Marys, despite having three voided weight classes, defeated Celina 36-33 to take over sole first place in the WBL with a 7-1 dual record. Coming into Thursday’s match at St. Marys, Celina and St. Marys were tied with the best league dual record (6-1).
A win against Defiance next Monday, would secure St. Marys the best dual record in the WBL.
The dual records count toward 50 percent of the overall WBL team title. The league tournament counts as the other half of the formula. The WBL Championships are to be held on Nov. 17 at Van Wert.
In the 47-year history of the WBL, Defiance currently claims the most team titles (20), while Wapakoneta (16) is close behind. Shawnee and Van Wert are both distant thirds with four league crowns.
“We knew we had to get pins in places, and we could not give up pins,” longtime St. Marys coach Larry Gruber said about Thursday’s dual with Celina. “We were really questioning it, coming in, and giving up 18 points (on voids) to start with.
“So, some of our younger kids really came through for us tonight. For most of them, that’s probably the best they’ve looked this year. They kept moving. They really went after it.”
Getting wins for St. Marys on Thursday included Tyler Miller (195), Austin Giesige (220), Austin Campbell (106), Clayton Drummond (113), Parker Enoh (126), Mason Saeler (145), Preston Wiechart (138), Auston McChesney (152) and Noah Vogel (170).
For Celina, Seth Huston (285), Kyler Bowlby (120), Logan Keiser (132), Nick Garwood (160) and Tim Ferrell (182) all notched victories on Thursday.
The last time Celina claimed a WBL team crown was 2008. The Bulldogs also won the league title in 2005.
Celina coach James Miracle gave credit to St. Marys for the way they came out and executed Thursday night.
“It really came down to their 145- and 152-pounders – their freshmen had losing records,” Miracle said. “Our kids had winning records and we lost those matches. Some of the matches, where I thought they (St. Marys) might dominate, we actually held our own. Then it came down to the 170 match – our kid (Logan Muhlenkamp) pinned him (Noah Vogel) last year. (Thursday) our kid was winning and then lost the match. So, we didn’t deserve to win (the dual). Congratulations to them (St. Marys). They win next week against Defiance and they’ll be the dual champs.”
For St. Marys, there’s not a lot of time to celebrate Thursday’s victory.
“There’s still a lot of wrestling yet to come, and the league tournament is going to determine a lot on where you stand,” Gruber said. “It’s like, Ok this is over. Enjoy it a little bit, because Monday we have to come back and wrestle again (against Defiance). And if you let anything down at all, then you can get knocked off.”
Gruber admits this season has been a little bit of a surprise.
“We saw potential in a lot of the kids, but we’re so young. We thought we would finish toward the top of the league, but not where we are right now,” he said.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.