Wrestling: Vonderwell from Delphos St. John’s making first trip to state

DELPHOS — Delphos St. John’s senior Mason Vonderwell has watched his older brothers compete at the state wrestling tournament.

Now, it’s his turn to wrestle at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.

This past Saturday at the Division III district tournament at Hobart Arena in Troy, Vonderwell placed second in the 175-pound weight class and stamped his ticket for the state tournament, which runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Ohio State.

The top four placers in each weight class at the district tournament qualified for the state tournament.

Last season, Vonderwell placed sixth at districts.

This past weekend, Vonderwell (44-5) blazed his way through the bracket, until he made it to the finals, where he was defeated by Troy Christian’s Connor Havill by way of a tech fall, 17-1. At last year’s Division III state tournament as a sophomore, Havill placed seventh in the 160-pound weight class.

Vonderwell also recorded his 152nd career win during last weekend’s district tournament, becoming the all-time leader in wins at St. John’s.

Vonderwell said he feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders, since he finally qualified for the state tournament.

“It (qualifying for state) has been my main focus for a while now,” Vonderwell said. “I feel like this (district performance) is the best I’ve wrestled in my career. … This is the highest point of my career. So, I just have to keep it going, and see if I can raise it any higher.”

Vonderwell said he had some big shoes to fill.

In 2017, his brother Brett, a three-time state qualifier, finished second at the Division III state tournament. In the finals of the 170-pound weight class, Brett was defeated by Mechanicsburg’s Kaleb Romero. Romero ended his high school career as a four-time state champion, and now wrestles for Ohio State. In 2019, his brother Trent Vonderwell was a state qualifier.

“I’ve been able to overcome (the pressure), I guess,” Mason said. “My biggest pressure was qualifying (for the state tournament). … Qualifying today (at the district tournament), relieves a lot of the pressure. I don’t feel as much pressure now.”

Vonderwell said he realizes with it being his first time competing at the state tournament, that he cannot afford to get caught up in all the hype of being down at the Schottenstein Center.

“I just have to focus on my match, block everything else out and wrestle,” he said.

Vonderwell will face Waynedale senior Peyton Lemon (26-1) in his first-round match Friday.

First for Elida’s Douglass

During his four years at Elida, Conner Douglass won the Western Buckeye League title four times, making him the first-ever four-time league champion in school history. He also has competed at the district tournament three times.

The only thing Douglass had not checked off his list before last week, was qualifying for the state tournament.

Now, his checklist is complete.

This past weekend at the Division II district tournament at Norwalk, Douglass (38-3) placed third in the 150-pound weight class and qualified for the Division II state tournament.

Last year at districts, Douglass placed fifth in the 138-pound weight class, and did not advance.

Douglass, a senior, wants to make the most of his state appearance.

“I want to place,” he said. “The goal is to definitely win the first one (match), and hopefully win the second one. … Honestly, the plan is to just win. I think I face the No. 5 kid in the state in the first round. So, it all depends on who shows up to wrestle that day.”

In his first match Friday, Douglass will face Dominic Paterra (46-5) out of Wintersville Indian Creek.

Douglass, who also competed at the state meet in the pole vault during last year’s spring track season, is used to competing on the big stage.

However, he has heard the stories from others on how it’s very important not to get caught up in all the hype, especially when you make the long walk from the tunnel to the wrestling mats inside the imposing confines of the Schottenstein Center.

“My coaches want me to go down there the night before, because they don’t want me freezing up on the mat. … But I don’t think I’ll freeze up,” Douglass said.

Douglass will compete in track-and-field next school year at the University of Findlay.

Top things to watch

Allen East junior heavyweight Eli Criblez finished runner-up at last year’s state tournament in Division III.

At last weekend’s Division III district at Troy, Criblez suffered his first loss of the season, when he was pinned by Versailles’ Taran Tyo in the championship match.

Criblez (44-1) faces Columbus Academy’s Gyvnn Mendenhall (38-4) in his opening match at the state tournament Friday.

Lima Central Catholic senior Gavin Caprella (120) is hoping to make it to the title match this weekend.

At last season’s Division III state tournament, Caprella placed fifth in the 113-pound weight class.

At last weekend’s district tournament at Troy, Caprella finished runner-up.

Caprella (34-4) will take on Sandy Valley’s Evan Natale (36-8) in his opening-round match Friday.

St. Marys has four wrestlers heading to the state tournament this weekend.

Three of the four grapplers are brothers.

The Hisey twins — seniors Trevor (120-pound weight class, 45-1) and Tyler (113, 44-0), along with their freshman brother Tate (106, 42-2) — will be competing this weekend. Teammate Garret Donovan (165, 38-7) will be joining the Hiseys in Columbus.

Last season, Tyler Hisey placed third at the Division II state tournament at 106 pounds.

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Allen East’s Eli Criblez, top, here competing against Carey’s Brock Bushong during January’s Lima Central Catholic Thunderbird Invitational, hopes to improve on his runner-up finish at last year’s state tournament in Division III.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/03/web1_Tbird-Invite-020.jpgAllen East’s Eli Criblez, top, here competing against Carey’s Brock Bushong during January’s Lima Central Catholic Thunderbird Invitational, hopes to improve on his runner-up finish at last year’s state tournament in Division III. Richard Parrish | The Lima News

By Mark Altstaetter

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Area state qualifiers

Division II


Landon Engle (132) – Sr., 44-1

Jaden King (157) – Sr., 43-4


Mason Ducat (113) – Fr., 46-11


Conner Douglass (150) – Sr., 38-3

St. Marys

Tate Hisey (106)- Fr., 42-2

Tyler Hisey (113) – Sr., 44-0

Trevor Hisey (120) – Sr., 45-1

Garret Donovan (165) – Sr., 38-7


Cael Rostorfer (285)- Sr., 43-9

Division III

Allen East

Kade Wireman (150) – Jr., 45-5

Chase Miller (165) – Sr., 30-4

Eli Criblez (285) – Jr., 44-1


Ezekiel Burkholder (150) – Sr., 38-6


Kaden Basil (175) – Sr., 38-5


Grant Heuing (165)- Sr., 42-10

Will Fox (285) – Jr., 38-13

Columbus Grove

A.J. Schafer (215)- Jr., 23-8

Delphos St. John’s

Mason Vonderwell (175) – Sr., 44-5

Indian Lake

Owen Pummel (190) – Fr., 39-5

Lima Central Catholic

Gavin Caprella (120)- Sr., 34-4

Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0457.