COLDWATER — It’s only fitting to have the top two seeds in the finals.
At Saturday’s Region 24, Division III regional dual wrestling tournament at Coldwater, No. 1 seed Versailles and No. 2 seed Allen East won their respective rounds of duals, and then matched up in the finals later in the afternoon.
In the finals, Versailles got up early, but Allen East battled back.
However, Versailles was able to hold off Allen East, 31-29, to notch the regional title. With the victory, Versailles will advance to next Sunday’s state dual tournament at Ohio State’s St. John Arena.
Saturday’s regional duals was a single-elimination format. There were 16 teams at Coldwater.
“It’s a team thing; and we just weren’t good enough today,” longtime Allen East coach Mike Abbey said. “We wrestled pretty tough all day, but this really hurts. … We wanted it. This would have been the first time we had qualified as a state team. But we’ll focus our attention next weekend on the NWC (Northwest Conference Championships), and then start to get ready for sectionals, districts and state. We still got a lot ahead of us. This is one of the few things we have not been able to accomplish. … We really wanted to accomplish it this year. We have to be better.”
Allen East’s semifinal matchup Saturday with No. 3 seed Mechanicsburg, had the feel of a championship match, as Allen East won the hard-fought dual with a victory in the final match.
The Mustangs had their hands full with Mechanicsburg. The lead changed hands after nearly every match.
Then, with Mechanicsburg leading 34-30, heading into the final match, it was up to Allen East heavyweight Brennan Davies. The Mustangs desperately needed either a tech fall or a pin in the heavyweight bout, if they wanted to win and advance to the finals. A win by decision would only give the Mustangs three points.
Davies, a state-qualifier last season, was fully aware of the situation. Davies did not disappoint his team, as he quickly put Mechanicsburg’s Jake Thiel on his back in just 49 seconds. With the win by Davies, Allen East slipped past Mechanicsburg, 36-34.
“I have a lot of pressure on my back, being one of the leaders on the team,” Davies said. “Knowing where we were sitting, and knowing where the points were, I was confident in my ability to get it done for the team and to get the team to move forward in the tournament.”
Davies, a lineman in football, recently signed to play football at the University of Findlay.
Allen East got off to a strong start Saturday.
The Mustangs rolled past Lincolnview in their first-round dual, 76-6. There were seven voided matches by Lincolnview. In the other seven bouts against the Lancers, Allen East recorded five pins and two tech falls (matches stopped after at least a 15-point margin).
In the quarterfinals, Allen East defeated No. 7 seed Parkway, 54-24.
The Mustangs recorded five pins. Allen East freshman Gage Wireman recorded the quickest pin of that dual, as he put Trevor Barker on his back in just 21 seconds in the 152-pound weight class.
The most competitive match in the quarterfinals was the matchup between Allen East’s Caleb Welch and Parkway’s Bryce Mihm in the 170-pound weight class. Welch recorded a hard-fought 5-2 decision against Mihm.
Allen East will regroup and focus on the Northwest Conference Championships at Columbus Grove next Saturday. Then after next weekend, the Mustangs will quickly turn their focus to the postseason tournament.
The individual state wrestling tournament will take place March 13-15 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State. The sectional tournaments will be the weekend of Feb. 28, 29. The district tournaments will take place the following weekend.
One of the Allen East wrestlers who is prepped for a deep postseason run, is junior Drake Carmean (126). At Saturday’s tournament, Carmean recorded three pins and one major decision.
At last year’s Division III state tournament, Carmean placed sixth in the 120-pound weight class. In 2017-18, as a freshman, Carmean was a state-qualifier at 120.
“The plan after this, is to start hammering and try to work as hard as we can to get ready for the state tournament, and bring home as many state titles as possible this year,” Carmean said.
Allen East senior Garrett Neth, who placed sixth (195) at last year’s Division III state tournament, went 4-0 Saturday as well. Neth recorded a pin in just 16 seconds in his finals match against Versailles’ Grant Pohlman.
There were seven area teams in Saturday’s field at Coldwater.
Spencerville won its first dual of the day, as it defeated Fairview 42-31. However, in the quarterfinal, Spencerville ran into a buzz saw as Versailles rolled past the Bearcats, 69-3.
Bluffton was one-and-done on Saturday. Wayne Trace eliminated the Pirates in first-round action, 40-30.
Coldwater lost a tough one to Ayersville in its first-round dual on Saturday, 33-32.
Parkway defeated Paulding in its first-round match Saturday, 52-24. However, Parkway was then eliminated by Allen East in its quarterfinal matchup.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.