VAN WERT — Longtime Wapakoneta wrestling coach Jason Rostorfer did the math.
Then his team came out and executed.
St. Marys came into Saturday’s Western Buckeye League Championships with the best regular-season dual record (8-1). Fifty percent of the criteria for winning the WBL team title is based on how teams fare in the dual meets. The other half is on how the team finishes at the league tournament.
Wapakoneta knew it not only had to win Saturday’s tournament at Van Wert, but it needed some help from other teams.
Wapakoneta won Saturday’s WBL tournament, and St. Marys finished a distant fourth, giving Wapakoneta the WBL Championship outright.
Wapakoneta ended Saturday’s tournament with 146 points, while Ottawa-Glandorf (122.5) finished second. Shawnee (119.5), St. Marys (109) and Van Wert (106) rounded out the top five teams. There were 10 teams in the tournament.
Wapakoneta, which was 7-2 during the regular-season duals, had three champions on Saturday. Luke Beach (126-pound weight class), Zach Miller (195) and Evan Kaeck (220) all won titles for the Redskins Saturday.
“Going into the finals, we kind of did the math, and we knew O-G was right there with us,” Rostorfer said. “Obviously, we wanted to out-score them, but we also needed to beat St. Marys. So, it worked out well for us. St. Marys ended up fourth and O-G finished second. So, that gives us the outright title. We just wrestled really well in that last round and out-distanced the field.
“Our guys have really worked hard this week. We went through a numbers game with the team this week at practice. We said, ‘Here’s what happens if you win in the championship. … Here’s what happens when you get a pin’. We just showed them how the bonus points and place points work. I think some of them didn’t really understand that.”
Saturday’s WBL title is Wapakoneta’s 17th in school history.
Beach defeated O-G’s Isaac Hernandez in his title match at 126, 10-6. Last season, Beach won the WBL title in the 120-pound weight class. He ended up sixth at last year’s district tournament for the Redskins. The top four placers in each weight class at districts advances to the state tournament.
“It took us a while to get our lineup where it needed to be,” Beach said. “Zach Miller was out half the season. He tore his meniscus during football. So, once we got him back is when we hit our best.”
Saturday marks the second WBL title for Wapakoneta’s Kaeck. Last season, Kaeck won the league title at 182. On Saturday, Kaeck pinned Defiance’s Jackson Meter in the finals at 220.
“We’re missing Brad Beemer (injured), a senior,” Kaeck said. “That was a big part of us, but some of the younger kids have stepped up.”
For Wapakoneta, this coming week marks a new season as it prepares to make a run in the postseason tournament.
“We told them that goal No. 1 is to win the league, because that gives us a better footing for next week,” Rostorfer said. “We can go to Napoleon (Division II sectional tournament) – and the guys that did well with their WBL opponents, it will help at the seeding meeting next Thursday.”
Rostorfer admitted he wasn’t too confident of his team’s chances before the season started.
“If somebody would have said at the beginning of the year that we would win the league tournament and get another banner on our gym wall, I don’t know if I would have believed it,” he said. “It was rough at the beginning of the season with injuries. But our guys kept bouncing back. We put other guys in the lineup, and it was always ‘the next guy in there’.
“We call February ‘Championship Month’. We got one. Now, we focus on individuals (postseason tournament).”
O-G senior Daniel Beemer keeps rolling along this season as he remains undefeated after Saturday.
Beemer steamrolled through the competition Saturday, en route to his second WBL crown. Beemer won by tech-fall over St. Marys’ Tyler Miller in the finals, 23-8.
Last season, Beemer placed fourth at the Division III state tournament in the 195-pound weight class.
“Postseason is coming,” Beemer said with a smile. “The coaches have done a great job of getting us ready – getting us in shape and getting us to peak at the right time.”
Bath’s Collin Mell had little trouble in notching his first WBL title, as he handled O-G’s Brent Siefker in the finals of the 145-pound weight class, 12-2.
Last season, Mell was a state-qualifier in Division II. After Saturday, Mell is 33-1 on the season.
“This (WBL Championships) gives me a little insight for sectionals,” Mell said.
Also winning titles on Saturday were Defiance’s Tristan Villarreal (113) and Lupe Martinez (120), O-G’s Grant Goecke (160), Shawnee’s Cain Bentz (152), Clay Adlesh (170) and Bobby Grothjan (285), St. Marys’ Clayton Drummond (106), Van Wert’s Gabe Steyer (132) and Isaiah Bretz (138).
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.