LIMA — After last wrestling season, Lima Central Catholic’s Joey Caprella decided he needed to set the bar a little higher.
Caprella placed fifth at last year’s district tournament, just missing a chance to compete at the state wrestling tournament. The top four placers in each weight class at districts advance to the state tournament.
During this past offseason, Caprella was in the gym nearly every morning, in pursuit of getting into the best possible shape.
Now, all the hard work is starting to pay huge dividends.
Caprella, a junior, continued to dominate the opposition this season, as he won the Division III sectional title in the 145-pound weight class Saturday at LCC’s Msgr. Edward C. Herr Gymnasium.
In Saturday’s championship bout, Caprella took the match over in the third period against two-time state-placer, Ada’s Chase Sumner, and rolled to a 12-3 major-decision. The match was knotted at 3 apiece at the end of the second period. Caprella scored nine points in the final period, and nearly pinned Sumner.
With the sectional title, Caprella is 36-0 on the season. Sumner, a senior, is 29-2.
Caprella, along with the top four placers in each weight class Saturday, will compete at next weekend’s Division III district tournament at Troy’s Hobart Arena. First-round action will begin Friday. The finals will be Saturday afternoon. The top four placers at the district tournament will advance to the state tournament at Ohio State (March 8-10).
“He (Sumner) came out really strong,” Caprella said. “I didn’t push my pace at the beginning. I’ve been training over at Team Stomp Fitness all summer at 5 a.m., and most of the wrestling season – just getting that pace that can wear them down when it gets to the third period. We always talk about doubling your points from the first period, doubling your points from the second period and just putting it on them in the third period. And that’s what we did in the third period. That fast pace has to always be there.”
Caprella is not looking past any opponent.
“I’m ready to win a title,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get down to state. But I have to take it one match at a time. That’s just four (wins) out of 12 (matches). I have eight more (en route to a state title).
“No fifth place (at districts) this year. … No more losing. I’m tired of that. I told myself that last year.”
In Saturday’s final team standings, the team race was tight up until the finals. Coldwater then pulled away in the finals and notched the sectional crown, scoring 204.5 points. Ottawa-Glandorf, last year’s sectional champion, finished second with 187 points. Allen East (146) and Wayne Trace (112.5) rounded out the top four teams. There were 15 schools in the LCC sectional tournament.
Coldwater scored well in nearly every weight class as it advanced 11 wrestlers to the district tournament.
“Our team only has 14 wrestlers, and we are able to fill 13 weight classes,” Coldwater coach Rob Schmidt said. “So, that’s pretty good. The kids we have maybe aren’t the most talented, but they work their butts off. They can place and score points.”
Josh Fink (152) and Thomas Schwieterman (285) both won titles Saturday for Coldwater.
Joey Caprella’s cousin, Allen East’s Chase Caprella, notched a sectional title Saturday in the 113-pound weight class. In his finals match, Caprella pinned Coldwater’s Brian Chmielewski for the victory. Caprella (34-1) was scored on first. However, Caprella came roaring back to take over the match.
“I gave up a take down in the first period and got rode out,” Chase Caprella said. “So, I was a little bit surprised. But, I knew if I could stick to my stuff and do what I normally do, then I could get it back.”
Caprella, a state-qualifier last season at 106 pounds, is feeling confident heading to Troy as a No. 1 seed.
“It’s big,” he said. “I came out of here as the second seed last year. I lost in the sectional finals. I wasn’t too happy about it.”
Caprella’s teammate, freshman Drake Carmean, won the title at 120 pounds Saturday for Allen East. Carmean (33-4), pinned Parkway’s Preston Browning in the finals.
“I came in and tried to work my stuff. Coach (Mike Abbey) told me to do what I do best, and I did it,” Carmean said.
O-G received strong performances from its wrestlers Saturday. Evan Ellerbrock (132), Grant Goecke (160), Danny Rosales (170) and Daniel Beemer (182) all won titles.
It’s been a season of redemption for Ellerbrock. Last year, an illness late in the season, made the path to the tournament very challenging. Ellerbrock came down with an illness before last year’s postseason tournament, could not cut weight, and was forced to bump up to a heavier weight class – going from 113 to 132. The result of this move, coupled with the illness, made it too difficult for Ellerbrock to place.
“This was big, coming in from last year – with being sick and having to bump up from 113 to 132,” Ellerbrock said.
Ellerbrock’s teammate, Daniel Beemer, continued to steamroll through the competition this weekend. Beemer (33-0) won the sectional title at 182 on Saturday. Beemer made easy work with Allen East’s Garrett Neth in the finals, winning with a tech-fall, 19-3.
“I just came out with the same mentality that I’ve had the last few weeks,” Beemer said. “I knew the team needed some bonus points to stay in the team race. It was definitely a little more motivation to get the bonus-point victory.”
Last season, Beemer placed fourth at the state tournament in the 195-pound weight class in Division III. The year before, Beemer placed fifth at 182 pounds.
“The district that I’m at, has a couple other guys ranked in the top 10 in the state,” Beemer said. “So, hopefully I will see them in the semifinals or finals.”
Other sectional champions on Saturday included Allen East’s Lucas Freeman (138), Bluffton’s Deandre Nassar (195), Columbus Grove’s Dylan Sargent (220), Parkway’s Tristen McKee (106), and Wayne Trace’s Tyler Bauer (126).
Longtime, and now retired local wrestling official, Paul Basinger, was awarded the Vince Matteucci Person of the Year Award before Saturday’s finals. Matteucci was a longtime official, as well as a former state champion in 1951 for the Cleveland West High School wrestling team. Basinger was an area official for over 30 years.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.