BATH TOWNSHIP – A Western Buckeye League championship is at the top of the list for the Bath wrestling program. This will never change.
Then, after the WBL Tournament, it’s on to the postseason tournament.
However, the Wildcats wouldn’t mind clipping off another accomplishment along the way.
At Wednesday’s Division III regional quarterfinal in its own gymnasium, Bath won both of its duals and will advance to next Wednesday’s regional semifinal/finals at a site to be determined. With the victory, there’s a good chance that Bath will play host to next week’s regional semifinal/final.
The winners of next week’s finals will advance to the state tournament Feb. 8 at Ohio State.
The regular OHSAA state (individual) tournament will be held at Ohio State on Feb. 27, 28 and March 1.
In Wednesday’s opening match, Bath had little trouble with Lima Central Catholic, defeating the Thunderbirds 60-9. LCC had six open weight classes, which made the trek that much easier for Bath.
In the other opening dual Wednesday, Mohawk defeated Riverdale 47-30, to earn the opportunity to face Bath in the finals.
In the finals, Bath recorded seven pins, en route to a convincing 57-18 victory over Mohawk.
For Bath, Ryan Kalb (126 pound weight class), Tre Wheeler (138) and Ryker Rabley (170) all recorded two pins on Wednesday. Nate Stonehill (145), Bo Gross (195), Kyle Lhamon (220) and Caleb Neal (285) each garnered a pin for the Wildcats in the Mohawk dual.
For LCC, Joseph Eisele (145) and Jack Huffman (195) both recorded wins against Bath. Huffman pinned Bath’s Bo Gross early in the second period.
Bath is currently sitting in second place in the WBL with a 6-1 league record. Defiance is in first place with a 7-0 mark. Wapakoneta is third with a 6-2 WBL record.
Bath first-year coach Joseph Fisher has his eye on the big picture for his team.
“We wrestled to our ability (on Wednesday),” Fisher said. “Like I said, this is not our peak; we still have next week. We will enjoy tonight, but we have Celina and St. Marys tomorrow (in a dual).
“It (the dual tournament) is going to be good competition for the league tournament. We’ll probably wrestle two tough teams next Wednesday (duals regional semifinal). So, I think it’s beneficial. We do miss practice time, but I think that in the end it’s definitely beneficial for the kids.”
Rabley, a junior on the Bath squad, pinned LCC’s Jarred Brown in his first match in 1 minute, 52 seconds. In his final match of the evening, Rabley took just 26 seconds to put Mohawk’s Cadin Emshoff on his back.
“It’s basically coming out and being aggressive and dictating the match,” Rabley said. “That’s what we practice all the time. …Coach tells us to dictate the match.”
Rabley said this year’s team is focused.
“I feel that we’re closer as a team this year. We’re working harder as a team in the (wrestling) room and trying to get better. We’re going for a WBL title. And of course with the state duals, we’re just trying to go farther than we did last year. We’re trying to achieve that goal of going to the “Schott” this year,” he said, referring to the Jerome Schottenstein Center where the state finals are held.
Stonehill, a sophomore, pinned Mohawk’s Brennan Richey is 44 seconds. Stonehill also likes the team tournament format.
“The state dual tournament is always a big goal for us,” Stonehill said. “We want to make it to state this year. This is a good step, right here. That and league are always big goals for us.”