Three of the happiest wrestling coaches in this area are the three coaches from Toledo Area Athletic Conference schools.
In years past the TAAC has not sponsored a league wrestling champion since not enough schools sponsor the sport. But this year, that problem was solved by the formation of the Ohio Wrestling League.
The three TAAC schools that have wrestling teams Cardinal Stritch, Northwood and Toledo Christian have joined with Stryker and three Blanchard Valley Conference schools Arcadia, McComb and Van Buren to form the OWL.
A fourth BVC member, Cory-Rawson, needs only the approval of its school board to join the new league.
We re excited to join the OWL, Northwood coach Nick Encheff said. All of the schools are close to the same size, so this gives the boys another goal to achieve, and it gives the teams a goal to achieve.
It s an extra rung on the ladder that will help all of the schools.
Cardinal Stritch coach DaveWlodarz said the OWL will especially help programs to build both numbers and awareness.
It s nice to have a reward, especially since not every kid in your program will advance to the state meet, Wlodarz said. For those who aren t quite at state caliber, it s good recognition for a long, hard season.
A preseason coaches votedetermined that Toledo Christian is the favorite to win the league title, something Eagles coach Mario Dominguez said is a mixed blessing.
I didn t want the added pressure [of league favorites], but so be it, he said. I m optimistic. It s going to be a battle, but we ve got some good kids to lean on.
The Eagles are led by seniors Ray Dominguez, the coach s son, at 160 pounds as well as Adam Yunker (135-140). A strong junior class includes twins Matthew (125) and Joel Curcio (119) as well as Nate Bailey (215), Brandon Phelps (135) and Eric Yunker (145).
Coach Dominguez said a pair of freshmen, Mike Ackerman (189) and J.C. Miller (152), have earned spots in the lineup and should be productive.
The league coaches said Toledo Christian should receive a challenge from Arcadia, which will be led by junior state qualifiers Lee Schumaker (130) and Mason True (152), as well as McComb, led by senior Derrick Hill, who qualified for last year s state meet at 135.
Northwood will be led by seniors Jake Grigson, a state qualifier at 140 last year, P.J. McKibben (215) and Brian Meinhardt (119). Sophomore Russell Grimm (152) is the fourth returning letterman on the Rangers 12-man roster.
We ve got some good athletes who we re hoping will gain some experience, Encheff said. We want to sand off some of the rough edges to turn these guys into good wrestlers.
Cardinal Stritch is hoping to get a boost from three seniors who are wrestling for the first time. Wlodarz said Kent Crozier (160), Jesh St. John (215) and Scott Yarberry (215) joined the program after helping the football team qualify for the state playoffs.
They are three good athletes who can help us as they gain experience, Wlodarz said. Plus, adding them may convince more of the younger football players who aren t playing basketball to join our squad.
They also will provide depth for a squad that boasts several district qualifiers, including junior Thomas Bergman at 275 and sophomore Josh Reindel at 135.