106: Brian Chmielewski (Coldwater) dec. Devan Hendrix (Greenview) 8-3
113: Connor Ryan (Covington) pin Preston Brubaker (Columbus Grove) 2:19
145: Cody Dickson (Spencerville) tech. fall Zack Leahey (Swanton) 16-1
152: Michael Burket (Eastwood) won by forfeit over Brandon Soules (Allen East)
160: Grant Kaiser (Coldwater) dec. Nate Meyer (St. Paul) 1-0
170: Tyler Ebbeskotte (Ottawa-Glandorf) won by forfeit over Chaz Vansant (Liberty-Benton)
195: Zane Zientek (Eastwood) won by forfeit over Logan Emerick (Allen East)
285: Thomas Schwieterman (Coldwater) dec. Carl Lankford (Covington) 7-4
LIMA – There’s nothing better than winning in front of the home crowd.
For Lima Central Catholic’s Hunter Lucas – runner-up at last year’s Division III state wrestling tournament – winning is always the goal. But when it happens at the annual LCC Thunderbird Invitational, it’s extra special.
At Saturday’s finals of the 13th annual Thunderbird Invite, Lucas notched his second Thunderbird title in stellar fashion. Lucas defeated Mechanicsburg’s Alex Rhine in the championship match in the 120-pound weight class, 8-4. The victory against Rhine also marked Lucas’ 125th career win. On the season, Lucas is 31-1.
“It’s definitely cool to win at home. You have all your fans and friends here. The support is great,” Lucas said. “I really appreciate everybody. It’s a home tournament. You have to win it for the team.”
Add to the two milestones Lucas eclipsed this weekend, the fact his opponent is a longtime friend.
“I know him pretty well,” Lucas said of Rhine. “We grew up wrestling together at Miron’s (wrestling club) in Columbus. We have a lot of good memories, going to out-of-state tournaments. So, we go back quite a ways. We’ve always been good friends. He wrestles really tough. We’ve trained together a lot. I made him better, he made me better. So, it’s just great to see him again.”
Rhine’s body type posed somewhat of a challenge to Lucas.
“It’s definitely harder to wrestle a guy with long legs and arms, because they have that reach and they can stay out front,” Lucas said. “They have a lot of leverage and length. But being tall, you also lack a little bit of strength. So, there are both positives and negatives to it.”
Lucas is focused on peaking at the right time of the season, as the postseason tournament quickly approaches.
“Things are definitely getting close to where I want to be,” he said. “I’m not completely to the point where I need to be, right now. I lost to Tony DeCesare (Padua Fransican) – he’s a two-time state-finalist – in a tough match, 3-2 at the CITs (Catholic Invitational Tournament, Jan. 16). It was tough. I pushed the match the whole time, but things just didn’t go my way. I’m definitely getting closer to where I want to be. I feel pretty good at where I’m at right now.”
In the final team scores Saturday, Mechanicsburg won the title, defeating second-place Miami East 276.5-153.5.
Coldwater had the best area finish, coming in fourth (148.5). LCC finished a solid eighth (104.5). There were 41 teams in the tournament.
For Ottawa-Glandorf sophomore Daniel Beemer, this weekend’s Thunderbird Invitational was just another step toward his ultimate goal.
Beemer (32-1) won the title at 182, against Covington’s Brandon Magee by way of default.
Beemer, who also plays nose guard on the O-G football team, finished third at sectionals last season. This year, he wants to take it to the next level.
“I put in the time. So, I’m kind of expecting results like this,” Beemer said. “But, I can only keep developing and improving.
“I use that (last season’s finish) as motivation to improve. I lost to some pretty solid kids at districts, last season. But, this year I’m hoping to make it to the Schott. (Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center, for the state tournament).”
On Saturday, LCC’s Collin Hennon lost in the 132-pound title match to Mechanicsburg’s Nick Miller, 6-3.
Coldwater’s Zach Klosterman lost to Mechanicsburg’s Dylan Hartley in the 220-pound title match, 9-2.
Other area wrestlers finishing in the top four included: Allen East’s Schuyler Caprella (fourth, 132); Bluffton’s Deandre Nasser (fourth, 195) and Blake Sampson (third, 285); Columbus Grove’s Andrew Nichols (third, 182); Coldwater’s Jay Uhlenhake (fourth, 126) and Spencer Seibert (fourth, 145); LCC’s Joseph Eisele (third, 152) and Kobe Cunningham (fourth, 113).
Norwalk St. Paul’s Derek Gross, who won the title at 145, was named the most valuable wrestler of the tournament.