WAPAKONETA — It’s early in the season.
But it doesn’t matter.
When Wapakoneta and St. Marys face each other on the wrestling mats, it’s a sure bet that it will be a hard-fought battle.
Last season, St. Marys won the WBL title, while Wapakoneta finished third behind second-place Celina. Wapakoneta has won a total of 18 WBL team wrestling titles in its school history.
The two Western Buckeye League programs squared off Thursday at Wapakoneta in a key league dual. Both teams came into Thursday’s match, 1-0 in WBL duals.
Early on, Wapakoneta seemed to be in control.
Then St. Marys began to reel off some wins and gained the momentum.
By the final match of the night, the score was knotted at 39 each.
After the final match, the official was forced to turn to the rule book to determine the tiebreaker.
The official had to scroll down to the sixth criteria in the rule book before he could determine the winner.
Since each team had seven wins (matches won) on the night, it then came down to how many wins were the result from a void (losing a match due to no wrestler in a weight class). Wapakoneta did have one weight class open, so the team victory went to St. Marys.
St. Marys head coach Larry Gruber said, despite the win, his team still has a great deal to work on.
“It does (feel good to get the win), but it doesn’t, at the same time,” Gruber said. “There are so many things that we need to work on. They don’t look like (at the matches), how they look at practice. It’s like, they do things in practice, then they get out here and they act like they forget where they are. Hopefully, it’s just (a lack of) mat time and mat experience, and it will eventually come.
“We couldn’t do much during the offseason. That hurt, but we’re in the same boat as everyone else. So, you can’t use that as an excuse. … At least we’re wrestling. So, that’s a big plus.”
After the first five matches on the evening, Wapakoneta had pulled out to a 21-6 lead.
However, St. Marys came roaring back.
In the 182-pound weight class, St. Marys’ Stashu Patterson pinned Wapakoneta’s Kaden Ware in the first period, to pull the Roughriders to within 6, 27-21.
“I was talking to one of our lighter weights, Tyler Hisey,” Patterson said. “He told me right before the match, to walk through my match in my mind. I saw the points. I knew a pin (six points) would be huge. So, that was my whole purpose out there (to get a pin).”
Tyler Hisey opened the night with a win in the 120-pound weight class. He pinned Zach Steinke in the second period.
In the 10th match on the evening, St. Marys’ 195-pounder Carter Sharpe pinned Wapakoneta’s Jayden Rampulla midway through the third period, recording six points, and knotting the score at 27 each.
The next match in the 220-pound weight class featured St. Marys freshman Tanner Mele in the 220-pound weight class, who was making his first appearance in a varsity match.
Mele’s debut was successful.
Mele pinned Wapakoneta’s Ean Kramer, late in the first period, to give St. Marys its first lead on the night, 33-27.
“It’s the first time he has wrestled varsity,” Gruber said. “He wasn’t even supposed to wrestle tonight. There was a problem with weigh-ins and he got thrown into the lineup. … He’s probably pretty happy.”
Mele said he was focused on getting the pin.
“We needed a pin,” Mele said. “We were down for a while, then we came back. So, I was looking to get the pin. Coming away with that win, was really nice.”
The next match, Wapakoneta’s heavyweight, Cael Rostorfer, knotted the score up at 33-33 with a pin against Logan Knous.
Things got even more interesting, as St. Marys received six points in the 106-pound weight class, by way of a void from Wapakoneta.
Then in the final match of the evening, Wapakoneta’s Colin Mellott pinned St. Marys’ Trevor Hisey in a battle of two state qualifiers from a year ago. That win by Mellott tied the team score at 39 apiece.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.