LIMA — A lot of dreams were crushed last year when the COVID-19 pandemic halted the high school wrestling season, right before the state tournament was to take place.
Since then, the focus for many area wrestlers has been on one thing – to get through the regular season, the postseason and then stamp their tickets to the state tournament.
A Saturday’s Spartan Invitational at Lima Senior High School, many area grapplers took to the mat in pursuit of reaching their goals.
Columbus Grove senior Jeff Meyer was tuning his skills on the mat Saturday, as he won the title in the heavyweight class (285 pounds).
In the championship match, Meyer pinned Liberty-Benton’s Matthew Berger, late in the second period.
This weekend was the first time that Columbus Grove has competed at the Spartan Invitational. Meyer is a three-time state qualifier in Division III. He placed sixth at the state tournament his sophomore season.
“I’m ready for state,” Meyer said. “I want to see some good competition. I know I have to train better for what I got to do.
“It’s my last shot. You don’t know what’s going to happen. I kind of felt that way during football too (Columbus Grove’s postseason run). Nothing is given to you. You don’t want to take anything for granted. I went through that during football. So, I’m riding that now during wrestling season.”
In Saturday’s final team standings, Mechanicsburg won the team title, slipping past St. Marys, 273.5-219.5.
Liberty-Benton finished third (211), while Columbus Grove (162) and Spencerville (147.5) rounded out the top five squads in the 17-team field.
For Lima Central Catholic junior Gavin Caprella, Saturday’s title in the 113-pound weight class was another step in his journey back to the state tournament.
Caprella won a 9-0 major-decision over St. Marys’ Tyler Hisey in Saturday’s title match. Caprella also was named the most valuable wrestler of Saturday’s tournament.
Last season, Caprella placed third at the Division III district tournament and qualified for the state tournament.
This season, Caprella has some unfinished business.
“Now, I’m a junior and half of my high school career is over,” Caprella said. “I only have two more shots. I got to get it done now. I have to get to the top of the podium.”
For Elida junior Conner Douglass, this season is all about staying healthy and being ready. Last year, Douglass battled an injury during postseason.
So far this season, Douglass has been able to get through some minor issues and is looking strong.
Douglass defeated Mechanicsburg’s Luke Stroud in Saturday’s title match at 138 pounds, 3-1.
“He was really strong in neutral (position),” Douglass said about Stroud. “I think of myself as being pretty good in neutral. … He was strong. He was tough to get anything going in neutral.”
Earlier in the day, Stroud notched his 100th career win.
For the Hisey brothers at St. Marys – Trevor and Tyler – it’s all about getting back to the state tournament.
Last season, both brothers qualified for state in Division II.
At Saturday’s Spartan Invite, Trevor Hisey won the title at 120, while Tyler Hisey placed second at 113 (loss to Caprella).
Trevor Hisey said his focus this season is to get the most out of each match. He feels this approach will help him stamp his ticket once again, for the state tournament.
“I just focus more on scoring and just don’t give up,” Trevor said about this season’s strategy. “I just keep pushing myself and keep thinking about getting back to state.”
Other champions Saturday were: Columbus Grove’s Ezra Jones (182), Chase Martin of Delphos St. John’s (170), Elida’s Skyler Kirk (106) and Brock Lyons (220), Liberty-Benton’s Nathaniel DiRe (195) and Mechanicsburg’s Trey Allen (126), Jesse Stroud (132), Westyn Moyer (145), Jake Hurst (152) and Zane Hitchcock (160).
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.