These are the good times for coach Justin Edgell and Gibsonburg’s wrestling program.
A year removed from winning the Ohio Wrestling League title, the Golden Bears went 17-1 in dual meets this season – a school record for dual wins - and defended their OWL tournament title on Feb. 1 at Northwood. The Bears scored 158 points to beat runner-up Van Buren by 56 points.
“We took 11 guys and all 11 placed in the top three,” Edgell said. “That was not necessarily what we expected. I made the comment a month ago that I didn’t anticipate having a lot of champions (at the OWL tournament). To win the league, we needed (several) guys to place third and fourth. We put five guys in the match for third and fourth, and they all took third.”
|The Gibsonburg league championship wrestling team-top row (l-r): Bill Ruth (F), Marcus Kreais (F), Troy Ickes (S), Jacob Auld (J), Dan Henline (S), Nick Metcalf (Sr), Coach Justin
Edgell. Middle: Antonio Vasquez (F), Damien Schmeltz (F), AJ Blausey (S), Griffin Geary (F), Zack Kaetzel (F). Bottom: Jose Gomez (F), Austin Webb (Sr), Wesley Campbell (F). Not Pictured: Gage Collins (Sr), Asst. Coaches Dennis Druso, Steve Liechty, Richard Escobedo. (Photo courtesy of Innovations Portrait Studio)
Gibsonburg had three league tourney champions, starting with freshman Marcus Kreais at 170 pounds.
“He’s a really hard worker,” Edgell said. “There’s not much else I can say about him. The kid busts his butt every single day. Mondays are kind of our walk-through days, just to get a light sweat going, and he’s just full-go every day. I’ve seen him since seventh grade and his body has transformed. He’s gotten taller and thinner and stronger and faster. He’s had to work for everything he’s gotten.”
Junior Jacob Auld, the OWL champion at 220 pounds last season, won the 182-pound title this year.
“We moved our lineup around last year to get our best chance of winning,” Edgell said. “Jacob bumped up to 220 and performed well. This year he was just coming off a concussion and did excellent. He pinned his guy in the finals in a minute. He didn’t look like he lost anything after being out a week and a half to two weeks.”
Senior Nick Metcalf became a two-time league champ at 195 pounds, pinning his opening-round opponent in 16 seconds. Metcalf placed sixth at districts last season.
“Nick’s second opponent was the runner-up at the Van Buren Invitational and we anticipated an even match,” Edgell said. “He was up 7-1 after one period and pinned him in the second period. His goal at the top of his goal sheet is to compete at the state tournament, as it should be. He went in there looking to do his job and get out and get ready for sectionals, districts and state.”
Taking second for the Bears at the OWL tourney were sophomores Troy Ickes (138 pounds), A.J. Blausey (145) and Dan Henline (160). Senior Gage Collins placed third at 113 and was joined by freshman Damien Schmeltz (120), senior Austin Webb (126) and freshmen Griffin Geary (132) and Zach Kaetzel (152).
“We had four freshmen in our lineup and they all placed top three in the league,” Edgell said. “The biggest surprise was at 152. Zach missed nearly the entire season with a broken arm, and this was only his second tournament back. He was unseeded and went 3-1 to earn third place.”
Gibsonburg will compete at the Division III sectional tournament on Feb. 15-16 at Elmwood. The Bears took fourth last year behind Genoa, Elmwood and Woodmore.
“We would like to get five or six guys to districts, which is pretty tough,” Edgell said. “Our sectional is pretty improved over the last few years. Genoa is tough and Woodmore is having a good year. There is a lot of talent; not a lot of great teams, just a lot of individual talent.”