CELINA – It was a very highly-anticipated wrestling dual between the two Western Buckeye League leaders, Wapakoneta and Celina on Thursday night.
It’s been talked about for weeks.
After Celina’s stellar performance Thursday, it will probably still be talked about for quite some time.
Celina got off to a quick start and rolled past Wapakoneta, 48-27 on its home mat Thursday, to improve its WBL dual record to 8-0. Wapakoneta slips to 7-1 in league duals.
Celina recorded a total of seven pins against Wapakoneta.
After the first seven matches Thursday night, Celina had built a commanding 33-3 lead.
Celina coach James Miracle knew his lower weight classes needed to come through on Thursday.
“We started out strong,” Miracle said. “We knew we needed to. We knew we were going to lose a lot of the back-end matches.”
Celina sophomore Landon Engle started the night on a strong note for the Bulldogs, as he pinned Wapakoneta sophomore Gavin Hall, late in the second period in the 126-pound weight class.
“We knew, coming out of the gate, that we would hammer them the first couple matches,” Engle (32-3) said. “We knew we had a chance against them. …. Our coach predicted 38-39. … We blew that out of the water. We’re pretty proud of what our guys accomplished tonight.
“I’d say we did pretty good. We expected a few hard matches in the beginning, but we did more than what was expected of us.”
Nathan Wilson followed Engle, with a pin over Wapakoneta’s Daniel Prieto, midway through the second period of the 132-pound match.
The Bulldogs had pushed out to a 12-0 lead after the first two bouts.
“I’ve never had a team wrestle better than this,” Miracle said. “Nothing against the kids that competed tonight, but we won without two of our more accomplished wrestlers – Luke Muhlenkamp (182) and Aric Gallimore (160). Those two did not wrestle tonight. So, we had a lot of freshmen step up. We knew it was going to be a competitive dual.”
Other Celina wrestlers that recorded pins Thursday were Jakob Poor (145), Stephen Warner (160), Tyler Carlin (170), Alex Stachler (182) and Cory Fortkamp (195).
Ethan Ly (152) recorded a win Thursday for Celina. Ly scored on a last-second escape in the third period against Wapakoneta’s Jacob Schlesselman, to notch a thrilling 7-6 victory.
Teammate Derrick Slater (113) defeated Wapakoneta’s Bryce Knapke in another close match, 8-6.
For Wapakoneta, Colin Mellott (106), Keaton Elling (120), Corbin Mitchell (138), Evan Kaeck (285) and Cael Rostorfer (220) all recorded victories Thursday night.
The regular season is not over for either team.
Next week, Celina faces St. Marys, while Wapakoneta takes on Defiance, as both squads wrap up the dual schedule.
The WBL Tournament takes place on Feb. 15 at Bath. The overall league champion is determined on two criteria – its regular-season dual record and its performance at the league tournament.
“I don’t know the last time we’ve beaten Wapak (in a dual),” Miracle said. “It’s been like 10, 12 years. But it means nothing if we don’t take care of St. Marys on Tuesday (Feb. 11).
“We dropped out of the regionals (dual state tournament) this weekend. … They (Wapak) all have to wrestle (regional duals). Our focus right now is on the WBL.”
Last year, Wapakoneta was a perfect 9-0 in league duals, and went on to win the WBL Tournament to capture its 18th WBL crown.
Celina finished 6-3 in last season’s duals, and went on to place third in the WBL Tournament.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.