Fourth-year Gibsonburg wrestling coach Justin Edgell (41-25) is confident his Golden Bears will contend for their third straight Ohio Wrestling League championship.
“Van Buren finished very strong last season and they had a solid middle school squad,” Edgell said. “I expect the team race to be close with them this year. Cory Rawson was second in the league the last two seasons, so I would expect them to contend again as well. The league as a whole struggles with numbers but each team has two to three outstanding wrestlers. It will be an interesting season because I am not sure there truly is a strong favorite this year.”
Last year the Bears finished 17-11, including a perfect 6-0 in OWL dual meets. In the league championship, Gibsonburg was followed by runner-up Cory-Rawson, Van Buren, and McComb. The Golden Bears were fourth at their own invitational, third at Hopewell-Loudon, sixth at Genoa and Cardinal Stritch tournaments, eighth at the Division III sectional meet, and 37th at the district meet. The 2012 and 2013 OWL titles are the only two league wrestling championships in school history.
Lost from last year’s Gibsonburg team to graduation are district qualifier Gage Collins (30-17), league champion and district placer Nick Metcalf (26-9), and league placer Austin Webb (14-13).
Top returning wrestlers include senior Jacob Auld (29-10), an OWL champion and district qualifier, sophomore Griffin Geary (23-23), a district alternate, and junior Dan Henline (32-17), a league runner-up and sectional placer.
“Jacob Auld is our senior captain and he finished the 2013 season very strong,” Edgell said. “He is a two-time league champion and was a district qualifier last season. We are expecting some great things out of him as a leader on and off the mat. Dan Henline will be our top junior for this year. He has had some success the last two seasons, accumulating 42 total pins. He put in a lot of work in this off season and the coaching staff believes he is primed to have a breakout season.”
Also returning are junior Troy Ickes (11-23), a league runner-up, and sophomores Zack Kaetzel (5-4), a league placer, Marcus Kreais (14-15), a league champion, Damien Schmeltz (25-21), a sectional placer, and Antonio Vasquez (17-24), a sectional placer.
New wrestlers include freshmen Isaak Arriaga, Jarret Wright, Brad Vitte, and Bryce Mendoza. Arriaga and Wright were middle school league champions and Vitte was a middle school league placer.
“Our team is young, once again, with four freshmen and four sophomores but we have a lot of wrestling experience. Our biggest challenge right now is making sure that our guys separate themselves from each other, in regards to weight, in order for us to fill as many weight classes as possible,” Edgell said.
“We have a fairly tough dual schedule with individual duals against larger schools like Toledo St. John’s, Port Clinton, and Fremont Ross. We also travel to Bowling Green to compete in the Bobcat Duals and Genoa for the North Coast Holiday Duals,” the coach continued.
“Our young men will gain a ton of mat experience in the month of December against very good competition. As always we will be a well-conditioned, hardnosed team that scraps until the last second. As long as we are still standing in the third period, our wrestlers have the mindset that they have a punchers’ chance to win.”
Edgell’s assistant coaches are Greg Spoores, Richard Escobedo, Damen Escobedo, Ryan Widmer, Mike DeAngelis, and Gyer Blackmore.