CELINA — Last season, the St. Marys wrestling program finally notched a Western Buckeye League title after a long 43-year wait.
Now, the Roughriders have more WBL hardware to put in its trophy case.
After St. Marys won Saturday’s WBL Championships at Defiance, St. Marys came back Tuesday and defeated Celina 42-26 in the final dual of the season, to win the WBL title outright for the second year in a row.
During the regular season, both Celina and St. Marys were undefeated in duals at 8-0. So, heading into Tuesday’s dual between the two teams, St. Marys was already guaranteed a share of the WBL crown, since it won Saturday’s tournament. If the Bulldogs would have knocked off the Roughriders in Tuesday’s dual, then the two teams would have shared the WBL title.
Longtime St. Marys head coach Larry Gruber said his team was ready to compete Tuesday, despite having a tough battle with Celina at Saturday’s WBL tournament – where Celina finished second to St. Marys.
“It wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would be,” Gruber said in reference to getting his team mentally prepared. “They knew what they had to do. They wanted it pretty bad.”
The Roughriders got off to a strong start Tuesday, as they won the first three matches by way of pins.
Michael Crites (106-pound weight class), Tyler Hisey (113) and Trevor Hisey (120) all recorded pins in the first three matches for St. Marys. The Roughriders led 18-0 after those quick wins.
However, Celina battled back.
By the 152-pound match, the Bulldogs claimed their first lead on the night.
Celina’s Jaden King pinned St. Marys’ Keegan Sharpe late in the first period, to give Celina a 22-21 lead.
However, the Roughriders responded.
In the very next match, at 160 pounds, St. Marys’ Mason Saeler battled back from an early deficit against Celina’s Gavin Brown, and recorded a thrilling 5-2 decision over Brown to give St. Marys a 24-22 lead.
However, Celina was not done.
At 170, Celina’s Tyler Carlin major-decisioned St. Marys’ Jace Schaefer, 12-3, and gave the Bulldogs a slim 26-24 advantage.
However, the Roughriders took control as they won the final four matches.
“We knew every point was going to count tonight,” Gruber said. “So, I thought if we didn’t give up pins, and we got pins in a couple places, I thought we would be OK.”
Mason Saeler (160), the lone senior in the lineup for St. Marys on Tuesday, said his team was prepared to defend its title.
“We were pretty confident coming in,” Saeler said. “We were just all excited, coming in, and knew what we needed to do to get the title.”
Saeler said the mindset and expectations at St. Marys has gone to a whole different level over the years.
“It’s been kind of surreal seeing how far the program has come the last couple years,” Saeler said. “When I first started wrestling (at a young age), we would come to the high school duals and watch them. It was still an important part of the community back then, but it wasn’t what it is now. There has been so much growth over the years. Everyone is working so hard to achieve their goals.”
St. Marys junior Stashu Patterson, who defeated Alex Stachler in the 182-pound bout, 6-4, said the team was focused on what they needed to do.
“Honestly, it’s an amazing feeling,” Patterson said. “Last year to win it, and this year to take it for the second year in a row and prove that we deserve it – is amazing. For Mason (Saeler) – I know that’s what he’s been talking about all week long. It really was a great feeling.”
Others winning matches on Tuesday were Celina’s Zack Greber (126), Zack King (132) and Landon Engle (138), St. Marys’ Garrett Donovan (145), Carter Sharpe (195), Brice Saeler (220) and Braden Saeler (285).