Columbus Grove’s Schafer taking wrestling to next level; Allen East sends 3 to state

TROY — Columbus Grove junior A.J. Schafer has excelled at a high level in football and track-and-field throughout his high school career.

Schafer was First Team All-Ohio in football as a linebacker last fall, and has been a high-level performer in the throwing events in track-and-field.

Now, Schafer has taken his wrestling skills to the next level.

At this weekend’s Division III district tournament at Hobart Arena (Friday and Saturday), Schafer finished runner-up in the 215-pound weight class.

With his second-place finish, Schafer will be making his first-ever trip to the state wrestling tournament, which takes place March 11-13 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.

The top four placers in each weight class at the district tournaments, qualify for next weekend’s state tournament.

Schafer (24-7) admitted that he was a little bit surprised on the success this season.

“(I was) a little bit (surprised),” Schafer said. “I had two losing records in the two years before. So, this was pretty unexpected.”

Schafer pointed to the support he received from the coaching staff – namely, assistant coach Jeff Meyer, who was last year’s state champion in the heavyweight class for Columbus Grove.

“Our coaches do a good job. I work with Jeff (Meyer) a lot – especially the week before sectionals – he really helped me out a lot. I rotated with some other guys, too.”

Columbus Grove head coach Eric Siefker said Schafer was focused, coming into the postseason tournament.

“We knew he would be alright,” Siefker said. “We knew if he got a good draw over here, that we would be good to go. Coach Meyer and all the rest of the coaches have been working really hard with him. He was under control. He’s been used to it (competing at a high level). He’s seen things like that.”

Schafer said he wants to go to Columbus next weekend and compete for a spot on the awards podium.

“(I want) to get down there and place, hopefully. …We’ll see how it goes,” Schafer said.

Allen East came away with three state qualifiers on Saturday.

Kade Wireman (second, 150), Eli Criblez (second, 285) and Chase Miller (third, 165) were the three Allen East wrestlers who advanced to the state tournament. All three wrestlers are returning state-qualifiers for Allen East.

Criblez, who finished state runner-up last season to Jeff Meyer from Columbus Grove, suffered his first loss of the season on Saturday. In Saturday’s finals, Versailles’ Taran Tyo (45-2) pinned Criblez (44-1) late in the second period.

“For me being undefeated and not being taken down this year (coming in), I think it’s more of a drive for me right now,” Criblez said after his tough loss.

Wireman will be making his third trip to the state tournament next weekend. Wireman (45-5) ran into a buzz-saw in his finals match at 150.

Gavin Brown from Legacy Christian, a two-time state champion, made quick work of Wireman, pinning him in just 41 seconds.

“He was a really good kid (Brown),” Wireman said. “He’s going to wrestle for Ohio State, but I really don’t look at those things. … I really don’t care. I’m still going to go out there and fight my heart out. I went out there to fight, and I just got caught.

“It is, what it is. Now, I have this week to come back; and hopefully I see him in the state finals.”

For Miller (30-4), it was about coming back in the consolation semifinals on Saturday.

“I also had to wrestle back last year (at districts),” Miller said. “I had a tough semifinal match (loss). I thought I took off pretty good on my feet, but I got in a bad position and got thrown. So, now you have to wrestle back. That’s what wrestling is about.”

Longtime Allen East head coach Mike Abbey was pleased on the performance of his team this weekend.

“We had three (state) qualifiers today,” Abbey said. “We had two runners-up – Kade (Wireman) at 150 and Eli Criblez at heavyweight. Chase (Miller) was third at 165. (Trenton) Gatchell was state-alternate at 144 (placed fifth). (Jacob) Pinks was a placer (sixth, 138). So, not too bad of a weekend.”

As a team, Allen East had the best area performance this weekend, placing sixth overall out of 45 schools that were represented.

Legacy Christian won the team title, decisively. Legacy Christian ended the two-day tournament with 209 points, while second-place Mechanicsburg tallied 132.5 points. Allen East recorded 98 points.

Mason Vonderwell from Delphos St. John’s, stamped his ticket for the state tournament Saturday. Vonderwell (44-5) placed second in the 175-pound weight class.

Vonderwell will be making his first trip to the state tournament next weekend.

“The main goal was to make it to state,” Vonderwell said. “So, that’s what I accomplished. Now, I just have to put some more work in next week and get ready for state.”

Lima Central Catholic’s Gavin Caprella will make a return to the state tournament. Caprella made it to the finals match at the 120-pound weight class on Saturday. However, Caprella (34-4) suffered an injury in the finals and was unable to continue.

Last season at the state tournament, Caprella placed fifth in the 113-pound weight class.

Indian Lake freshman Owen Pummel (39-5) won the title at 190 on Saturday.

“I wasn’t sure how districts were going to turn out,” Pummel said. “But I’m happy it turned out like it did.”

Hayden Pummel, last year’s Division III state champion at 160 pounds, is the older brother of Owen Pummel.

Bath senior Ezekiel Burkholder (38-6) placed fourth at 150 on Saturday to stamp his ticket for the state tournament. This will be Burkholder’s first trip to state. The senior standout had to win his consolation semifinal on Saturday to put himself in the third-place match.

“I knew I could accomplish my goal. I’ve been working on it, and I felt really good this week. So, I knew I could go in there and win that,” Burkholder said.

Coldwater’s Grant Heuing (fourth, 165) and Will Fox (fourth, 285) also qualified for the state tournament.

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Parkway’s Logan Green, top, competes against Columbus Grove’s Landen Schroeder during Saturday’s Division III district at Hobart Arena in Troy. Head to LimaScores.com for additional high school wrestling photos.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/03/web1_District-lll-wrestling-DS6.jpgParkway’s Logan Green, top, competes against Columbus Grove’s Landen Schroeder during Saturday’s Division III district at Hobart Arena in Troy. Head to LimaScores.com for additional high school wrestling photos. Don Speck | The Lima News

Spencerville’s Carder Miller, top, battles Middletown Madison’s Levi Griffin during Saturday’s Division III district at Hobart Arena in Troy.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/03/web1_District-lll-wrestling-DS3.jpgSpencerville’s Carder Miller, top, battles Middletown Madison’s Levi Griffin during Saturday’s Division III district at Hobart Arena in Troy. Don Speck | The Lima News

Bath’s Carter Deppe, top, competes against Springfield Shawnee’s Brandon Day during Saturday’s Division III district at Hobart Arena in Troy.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/03/web1_District-lll-wrestling-DS1.jpgBath’s Carter Deppe, top, competes against Springfield Shawnee’s Brandon Day during Saturday’s Division III district at Hobart Arena in Troy. Don Speck | The Lima News

Columbus Grove’s Boat Thompson, top, competes against Indian Lake’s Czar Dickson during Saturday’s Division III district at Hobart Arena in Troy.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/03/web1_District-lll-wrestling-DS2.jpgColumbus Grove’s Boat Thompson, top, competes against Indian Lake’s Czar Dickson during Saturday’s Division III district at Hobart Arena in Troy. Don Speck | The Lima News

Kenton’s Logan Brown, top, competes against Dayton Northridge’s Riley Holmes during Saturday’s Division III district at Hobart Arena in Troy.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/03/web1_District-lll-wrestling-DS5.jpgKenton’s Logan Brown, top, competes against Dayton Northridge’s Riley Holmes during Saturday’s Division III district at Hobart Arena in Troy. Don Speck | The Lima News

Ada’s Clayton McClain (right) tries to take down Mike Reed from Versallies during the division lll District wrestling at Hobart Arena on March 5 2022 More photos at limaohio.com photos by Don Speck
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/03/web1_District-lll-wrestling-DS4.jpgAda’s Clayton McClain (right) tries to take down Mike Reed from Versallies during the division lll District wrestling at Hobart Arena on March 5 2022 More photos at limaohio.com photos by Don Speck Don Speck | The Lima News

By Mark Altstaetter

[email protected]

Results

Division III District

At Troy Hobart Arena

Top 10/ Area Team Scores: 1. Legacy Christian 209, 2. Mechanicsburg 132, 3. Versailles 119, 4. Miami East 115, 5. Troy Christian 106, 6. Allen East 98, 6. Covington 98, 8. Greenon 96, 9. Brookville 93, 10. Wayne Trace 87, 12. Coldwater 55, 13. Indian Lake 46.5, 17. Columbus Grove 30.5, 20. Lima C. C. 22.5, 21. Delphos St. John’s 22, 23. Bath 20, 27. Spencerville 18, 29. Kenton 17, 32. Lincolnview 13, 36. Delphos Jefferson 6, 38. Crestview 4, 44. Ada 2.

First-through fifth place matches involving area wrestlers

113: Fifth place: Kyler Walsh (Car) def. Tyler Overman (Col), 4-3, dec; Fifth place: Aidan Thiele (Mad) def. Czar Dickson (InLa), 3-2, dec.

120: First place: Dillon Campbell (LC) def. Gavin Caprella (LCC), default.

138: Fifth place: Anthony Hunt (Ken) pinned Jacob Pinks (AE), 0:29.

144: Fifth place: Trenton Gatchell (AE) pinned Parker Mihm (Par), 0:29.

150: First place: Gavin Brown (LC) pinned Kade Wireman (AE), 0:41.

165: Third Place: Chase Miller (AE) pinned Grant Heuing (Col), 0:57.

175: First place: Connor Havill (TrCh) def. Mason Vonderwell (DSJ), 17-1 technical fall.

190: First place: Owen Pummel (InLa) def. Ashton Simison (Gre) 5-4, dec.

215: First place: Trevor Stewart (Gre) pinned A.J. Schafer (CG), 1:01.

285: First place: Taran Tyo (Ver) pinned Eli Criblez (AE), 3:56; Third Place: Will Fox (Col) pinned Scott Blumenstock (Cov), 1:32

Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-o451.