Wrestling: Allen East’s Criblez wins invite title

LIMA — The moment when Allen East’s Eli Criblez notched fourth place at last year’s Division III state wrestling tournament in the 285-pound weight class, he quickly turned his focus to the next season.

Criblez, a two-time state-placer, has one goal in mind – to win a state title. In 2021, Criblez was the state runner-up at 285.

At Saturday’s finals of the Thunderbird Invitational at Lima Central Catholic, Criblez continued his mission as he won the title and improved his record to 30-1.

In Saturday’s title match at 285, Criblez won in overtime against Greeneview’s Cohen Hickman, 2-1. Hickman lost the match on a stalling call.

“I like moving around and stuff,” Criblez said. “When you’re not engaging me at all and like circling all the time – I wouldn’t call that a wrestling match.”

Criblez, a senior, was pleased on winning the title this weekend. However, he has bigger goals set for this season.

“Every night, I dream about winning a state title,” Criblez said with a grin. “I think about it every day. When I get home from practice, I don’t stop thinking about it. I just want to be on top. That’s just the biggest dream I have right now.”

As a team, Allen East had the best performance at the Thunderbird Invitational, placing sixth in a field of 42 squads.

Legacy Christian Academy, won the Thunderbird Invitational with 203 points. Allen East recorded 135 points in the two-day invitational. Coldwater had the next-best area team finish, coming in ninth with 113 points.

Criblez’s teammate, Kade Wireman, was runner-up in the 157-pound weight class on Saturday.

In the championship match, Wireman (30-3) lost to Legacy Christian’s Ethan Cooper, 8-4. Both Wireman and Cooper are ranked in the top five in the state in that weight class, according to borofanohio.net.

Last season as a junior, Wireman placed third at the Division III state tournament in the 150-pound weight class.

Last weekend at the Van Buren Invitational, Wireman notched his 150th career win. He is on track to break both the all-time wins record and the all-time takedowns mark at Allen East.

“Tournament-wise, I feel like I wrestled better than I have all season,” Wireman said about this weekend’s invitational. “I’ve been in kind of a slump. I feel like this tournament actually opened my tackle box up, and I started wrestling the way I know how to.

“(The) finals match, didn’t go as planned, but it’s only January. I’ll see him at districts. So, I’m not worried about it. Now I know what I have to work on.”

Longtime Allen East head coach Mike Abbey was pleased at the way his team competed. However, he acknowledged there is some work to be done before the postseason tournament.

“It was not a bad weekend,” Abbey said. “Eli (Criblez) was our lone champ. Kade (Wireman) had a really tough match against the Legacy (Christian) kid; and we’re going to see that match again at districts. Trenton Gatchell took third place at 165. … He had a tough match.

“So, that’s why we come to these (invitationals). We come here so we can get some tough matches in before we get to sectionals and districts. This is like the district finals. If you can place here, you can go and place at districts. … Then, we’ll be wrestling in Columbus (the state tournament). We have a month to get better. Sectionals start in a month. We’ll be back here (at LCC) in a month (for sectionals).”

Gatchell (34-5), a junior, notched his 100th career win on Saturday for the Mustangs. Gatchell won his third-place match in the 165-pound weight class over Madeira’s Gregory Kyser in an ultimate tiebreaker, 3-2.

“That goal is done. Now, I can create new ones,” Gatchell said. “After this, we will concentrate on (Northwest) conference; and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Columbus Grove senior Landen Schroeder (23-8) placed fourth at 157 pounds on Saturday.

“I feel like this tournament gets us ready for the end of the year,” Schroeder said. “It’s a new experience. We’re going to see a lot of these teams and wrestlers at sectionals, districts and state. So, I think this is getting us prepared.”

Edward Kessen from Delphos St. John’s placed third Saturday at 132. He improved his record to 26-7. Kessen defeated Spencerville’s Carder Miller (33-2) in the third-place match, 6-5.

Coldwater’s Shane Ontrop (28-6) won his third-place match Saturday at 190. Ontrop’s teammate, Will Fox (33-3), placed third at 215.

Mark Altstaetter wrote this story for LimaScores.com. Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0575.