When Gibsonburg won the Ohio Wrestling League championship last season, it was the first wrestling team title in school history.
With six returning letter winners from that squad, third-year coach Justin Edgell now looks for Gibsonburg’s first repeat crown.
The OWL includes four schools of the Toledo Area Athletic Conference (Cardinal Stritch, Gibsonburg, Northwood, and Toledo Christian), plus four from the Blanchard Valley Conference (Arcadia, Cory-Rawson, McComb, and Van Buren).
Last season the Golden Bears posted 165.5 points for first place, edging runner-up Cory-Rawson (158). Arcadia was third and McComb took fourth.
Back for the Gibsonburg are seniors Nick Metcalf (182 or 195 pounds) and Gage Collins (106-113), junior Jacob Auld (195-220), and sophomores Troy Ickes (132-138), A.J. Blausey (145-152), and Dan Henline (152-160).
Metcalf (33-13 record), who was a district qualifier, and Auld (22-14) were OWL champions, and Collins (23-17) and Henline (23-12) were league runners-up.
Gibsonburg’s top new prospects for 2012-13 include senior Austin Webb (120-126 pounds) and freshmen Damien Schmeltz (120-126), Griffin Geary (132-138), Zack Kaetzel (138-145), Marcus Kreais (195-220), and Billy Ruth (220-285).
“We have a very young lineup,” Edgell said. “Potentially, 10 spots will be filled by freshmen and sophomores.”
Northwood, which scored 58 points to place fifth in last season’s OWL tournament, might struggle this season under second-year coach Bill Cannon, who has only four wrestlers in his program, including two freshmen.
Senior Brandon Kretz (126) enters his fourth season with the Rangers, and sophomore Devin Dunbar (106, 29-10 record) returns as an OWL champion and a district qualifier.
The freshmen are Jonny Wheeler (120) and John Habel (138).
“We’re just rebuilding,” Cannon said. “We have six eighth-graders wrestling [in junior high], so we hope to bring the numbers up next year.”
Cardinal Stritch, which has sent at least one wrestler to the Division III state tournament the last six seasons, will embark on a rebuilding process this year according to coach David Wlodarz.
The Cardinals’ team captain is sophomore Seth Kebker (138), who is in his first year of wrestling, but has shown Wlodarz impressive work ethic as he learns mat technique. Another rookie is junior 285-pounder Michael Outland, and Stritch has a senior foreign exchange student — Miro Vidlicka (195) — on the team.
Wlodarz sees promise in freshmen Kyle Zapadka (106), Rick Hrebic (145), Grant Curavo (152), Zach Naugle (160), and D.J. White (195). Zapadka is the son of Scott Zapadka, who won two state titles while wrestling at Stritch.
Toledo Christian has eight times as many wrestlers on its team this season from a year ago.
Last season, the lone Eagle in coach Mike Geis’s program was his freshman son Michael Geis (138), who wrestled mostly junior varsity events.
This year, seven others have joined Geis, including senior Dominik Sottner (220) and three juniors. Showing the most promise so far are Sottner and junior Ramon Ochoa (182).
“Our primary objective is to do a lot of learning, compete hard, and work on our physical and mental toughness,” coach Geis said.