TROY — Last season, Bluffton’s Deandre Nassar rolled into the Division III state wrestling tournament as a No. 1 seed, after winning the district title in the 195-pound weight class.
Nassar did not lose a match in the state tournament, until he made it to the semifinals. He went on to place fourth in the tournament.
Now a senior, Nassar doesn’t want to get derailed on his path to a state title.
In Saturday’s finals of the Division III district tournament at Troy’s Hobart Arena, Nassar faced a very familiar opponent in the 182-pound championship bout, in Ottawa-Glandorf senior Danny Rosales. This season, the two had faced each other three times before Saturday’s title match.
And like the previous encounters, Nassar pulled through with the victory over Rosales in Saturday’s title match, recording an 8-1 decision.
With the win, Nassar remains undefeated this season at 44-0. Rosales is 27-6 after Saturday.
The top four placers in each weight class at the district tournament advance to the state wrestling tournament at Ohio State, which runs Thursday through Saturday (March 7-9).
“I’m feeling really good about it,” Nassar said. “I’m a No. 1 seed. So, I’ll match up with a No. 4 seed from another district. I’m feeling pretty good about that. Last year, I had the same thing. I did pretty well. I got to the semis, but ended up losing. This year, I’m looking for a different outcome.”
In Saturday’s title bout with Rosales, it took a little while before Nassar took control.
“My shots weren’t there in the first period, like I wanted them to be,” Nassar said. “Then I finally found out what I can do. So, I was able to get it done in the second and third periods.”
For Lima Central Catholic senior Joey Caprella, Saturday was an opportunity for redemption.
At the LCC Thunderbird Invitational (Jan. 25, 26), Caprella lost a tough semifinal match against Troy Christian senior Ryan Whitten. That loss stuck in the mind of Caprella ever since.
However, in Saturday’s district title match at 145, Caprella (44-2) faced Whitten (33-3) once again. This time, Caprella had an answer for Whitten’s unorthodox wrestling style, and defeated him 5-3, to notch the district crown. Caprella won the district title last year as well.
“I pretty much knew that I would see him in the finals,” Caprella said. “I know he’s a great wrestler. I knew he would win his side of the bracket and I would win mine. This is what I prepared for all week.
“I wrestled a little differently (at Troy), because he has an interesting style. It’s kind of passive. I had to overcome that.”
Last year, Caprella took an undefeated record to the state tournament, and ended up placing fifth at 145.
“I came down here (Troy) this weekend, taking it one match at a time,” Caprella said. “I’m not even thinking about the state finals right now. I’m thinking about the first round. … Then comes the second round, the third round and then the state championship. So, I just have to take it one match at a time. I feel great. I think I’m at the top of my game, right now. That’s where I want to be, going down there.”
In the final team standings Saturday, Troy Christian won the title, scoring 147.5 points in the two-day tournament. Covington finished second (99.5). Legacy Christian (91.5), Allen East (83) and Versailles (83) rounded out the top five teams. Columbus Grove was the next area team, finishing sixth (79).
Garrett Neth was the lone Allen East wrestler to win a district title Saturday. In the championship match at 195, Neth (27-2) decisioned Columbus Grove’s Dakota Sargent, 7-2. Brennan Davies (second, 285) and Drake Carmean (third, 120) also qualified for the state tournament for Allen East.
“We have three (state) qualifiers,” longtime Allen East coach Mike Abbey said. “We have our first heavyweight ever. I had two returning state qualifiers. My 120 (sophomore Drake Carmean) took third today. We had another district champ (Garrett Neth, 195). Garrett wrestled a heck of a tournament.
“It was a good weekend. We brought eight guys down. We have no seniors and we have a great eighth-grade class coming up. So, the future is bright.”
Neth, who was a state-qualifier last season, has faced Sargent (10-7) the past four weeks.
“It’s kind of tough, because everyone starts catching on to what you want to do,” Neth said, in reference to facing Sargent multiple times.
Allen East sophomore Drake Carmean had to battle back in the consolation semifinals Saturday, in order to advance to Columbus. Carmean (40-4) defeated Bethel-Tate’s Trey Sander in the third-place match, 9-3.
“It was a really tough match beforehand in the semifinals (8-6 loss to Legacy Christian’s Camron Lacure),” Carmean said. “The kid was really strong. We went toe-to-toe and he ended up beating me. It kind of hurt a little bit. But I knew all I
had to do was fight back, remember what I can do and don’t put my head down. It’s not a loss, it’s a learning experience.”
Columbus Grove’s Jeff Meyer (43-8) won the district title in the heavyweight class, pinning Davies (39-10) from Allen East in the second period.
“I’ve been working on what he (Davies) does, and on what he thinks I will do,” Meyer said. “So, I think we have that pretty well dialed in.”
At 220, Columbus Grove’s Dylan Sargent battled back in the consolation semifinals to eventually place fourth. Sargent (37-9) has been coming back from an injury. This weekend, Sargent also recorded his 100th career win.
“At the LCC tournament, I popped it (shoulder) out,” Sargent said. “Then I took like a week and a half off. Then I finally got my strength up and was able to wrestle.”
Ottawa-Glandorf will be sending two other wrestlers to the state tournament, along with Rosales. Isaac Hernandez (second, 132) and Matt Schmersal (fourth, 195).
Schmersal (30-14), a senior, is in his second year of wrestling.
“I thought that I could at least get (state) alternate,” Schmersal said. “But once I got the first take down on him (West Liberty-Salem’s Major Stratton in the consolation semifinals), I knew I was still in this match. So, I kept pushing the pace.”
Other area wrestlers advancing to the state tournament are Coldwater’s Josh Fink (second, 160), Brian Chmielewski (third, 113), Cory-Rawson’s Deontae’ Davis (fourth, 160), Delphos St. John’s Trent Vonderwell (second, 220), Indian Lakes’ Hayden Pummel (third, 160), Lima Central Catholic’s Chase Caprella (third, 132).
MENTOR — Lima Senior’s Naeem Russell had to forfeit his remaining matches after suffering an injury in the semifinals, resulting in a sixth-place finish.
NORWALK — Van Wert’s Gabe Steyer (138 pounds) and Wapakoneta’s Brenan Knueve (285) won their weight classes.
Those also earning spots at state with top-four finishes included Van Wert’s Isaiah Bretz (second at 145 pounds), Wapakoneta’s Trevor Plaugher (second at 195), Luke Beach (third at 138) and Colin Mellott (fourth at 106), Bath’s Fielden Deeds (third at 195), Kenton’s Noah Eikenbary (third at 220) and St. Marys’ Noah Vogel (fourth at 170).
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.