TROY — Allen East sent 10 wrestlers to this weekend’s Division III district tournament at Troy’s Hobart Arena.
When it was all said and done, there were five Allen East grapplers qualified for the Division III state tournament, which will be held next Saturday and Sunday (March 13, 14) at Marion Harding High School.
The top four placers in each weight class at Troy qualified for the state tournament.
As a team, Allen East finished third out of 50 schools that were represented at Troy.
Legacy Christian won the team title with 210.5 points. Mechanicsburg was a distant second (154.5), while Allen East ended the two-day tournament with 119 points. Columbus Grove had the next-best area performance as it finished 10th (67).
Allen East did not notch any individual titles this weekend, but the Mustangs were competitive in each weight class they competed in.
Finishing in the top four of their respective weight classes for the Mustangs included Blake Hershberger (second in 170-pound weight class), Eli Criblez (second, 285), Kade Wireman (fourth, 138), Chase Miller (third, 160) and Alek Winner (third, 220). Gage Wireman, the twin brother of Kade Wireman, placed fifth at 182 and earned a state-alternate spot.
“Five state qualifiers and an alternate out of 10 guys. I couldn’t be much prouder,” longtime Allen East head coach Mike Abbey said. “We have one senior and four underclassmen (state) qualifiers, and a placer. And we could have had Drake (Carmean), too. I’m just so proud of my ten. We had all ten (wrestling until) the second day. Everybody had at least two wins down here. It was an awesome weekend.”
Carmean, a three-time state qualifier for Allen East, suffered a season-ending injury late in the season.
Allen East’s first state qualifier on Saturday was sophomore Kade Wireman (35-5), who placed fourth in the 138-pound weight class. Last year as a freshman, Wireman qualified for the state tournament.
However, last season came to an abrupt halt right before the state tournament, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s pretty big, because last year we got it pretty much ripped out of our hands,” Kade Wireman said. “Just training all year and getting here, with having to battle through my knee (injury), was just another big-time goal. I’m hoping as a sophomore, that I can just keep making it all four years. Hopefully, I can place top five, or make it all the way and win it.”
Hershberger (49-4), the lone senior for the Mustangs, notched his second state berth on Saturday, placing second at 170. Last season, Hershberger was one of six state qualifiers for Allen East.
“My main goal this weekend was just to get back to state,” Hershberger said. “That was my goal, ever since COVID hit (last season). I didn’t get down there last year. I’ve been pushing to get back to state. This weekend, I probably wrestled the best that I have in a long time. I came in here focused, mentally prepared and pushed myself all week; and I got it done.”
For Allen East junior Chase Miller, it was bittersweet Saturday when he notched his state berth. Miller had competed the past two seasons at the district tournament, but did not make it out.
On Saturday, Miller (48-4) stamped his ticket for the state tournament as he placed third at 160.
“It feels great,” Miller said. “All that hard work finally pays off. I came up short the past two years – got disqualified twice (at districts). It just stuck in my head the whole time.
“Today, I got beat in the semifinals, but I didn’t let it get to my head. I came back and wrestled hard.”
Lima Central Catholic’s Gavin Caprella placed third in the 113-pound weight class on Saturday.
Caprella (27-3) recorded a 9-1 major decision over Madeira’s Ramakrishna Gandhi in his third-place match. This will be Caprella’s second time to qualify for the state tournament.
Chase Martin (49-2), a senior at Delphos St. John’s, notched a third-place finish at 170 pounds. Martin recorded a 6-4 decision over Covington’s Trentin Alexander in Saturday’s third-place match. Martin is a two-time state-qualifier for the Blue Jays.
Columbus Grove not only had two wrestlers qualify for the state tournament, but both grapplers won district titles.
Columbus Grove senior Ezra Jones (40-3) won the title at 195. Last season, Jones placed fifth at the district tournament, and was a state alternate.
This season, Jones will be competing at the state tournament.
“It feels good to do better this year,” Jones said. “I prayed for this for a long time. I prayed to the Lord to help me do the things I needed to do to become a state qualifier.”
In the heavyweight class (285 pounds), Columbus Grove senior Jeff Meyer, won the district title. Meyer (45-2) pinned Allen East sophomore Eli Criblez (42-4), late in the second period in the championship bout.
This season, Meyer and Criblez met four times. Meyer won three of those matches against Criblez.
“It’s my last shot (at state),” Meyer said. “You have to put all your cards on the table and just roll with it. You have to give it everything you got, and have no regrets. That’s what I have to do.”
Other area state qualifiers at Troy included Coldwater’s Caleb Stammen (third, 195), Indian Lake’s Hayden Pummel (first, 160) and Lane Mefford (second, 182).
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.