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Published: Thursday, 2/12/2009

Sidelines: Clay goes for first CL wrestling title; Maumee favored in NLL

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Wrestling takes center stage on the area high school sports scene Saturday as league tournaments will be contested.

In the City League, Clay will try to end a 33-year championship drought when it battles top challengers Central Catholic andSt. Francis de Sales in the league tournament at Rogers.

Preliminary rounds begin at 10 a.m., and the championship round is set for 6 p.m.

Clay, which entered the CL for the 2003-04 school year, has not captured a league wrestling crown since winning a title in the former Great Lakes League in 1966. That team triumph even predates the prep wrestling days of current coach and Clay graduate Gerry Anthony, who won a GLL heavyweight title for the Eagles in 1971. That league was dominated for nearly three decades by Michigan powerhouse Bedford.

The Eagles have three returnees who captured CL individual titles last year: Nick Garcia (103 pounds), Mark Orth (145) and Justin Wharton (160). Clay s top three performers on the mat this season have been Wharton, Richie Urias (119) and Kirk McLaughlin (130).

The Eagles most notable tourney win to date this season came at the highly competitive Kerr Memorial Invitational at Waite last month.

Their chief competitor for the team title should be defending champion Central Catholic, which last season topped runner-up Clay 253-220 in the league meet at Rogers.

The Irish feature four defending individual champions with Dan Cook (119), Jordan Duckett (130), Jake Henderson (189) and Dave Pickerel (215).

St. Francis also has displayed enough depth and individual talent this season to be viewed as a top contender..

NLL: Ken Walczak, in his 11th year as coach at Maumee, has every reason to expect his Panthers will be a leader in the chase for their second straight Northern Lakes League championship, which this year will be contested in their home gym.

The tournament begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, with the championship round to begin at 5 p.m.

For the second straight year Maumee went 7-0 in league dual matches, a run that this year included a narrow 31-30 victory over Springfield. Last year the Panthers outpointed the runner-up Blue Devils 193.5 to 152.5, while Anthony Wayne placed third at 117.5.

Maumee returns three individual champions in seniors Mike Warren (125, now at 130), Mike Graves (145, now at 152) and Justin Rippke (215).

Springfield is also paced by three seniors who are returning champions Garrett Manley (112), Aaron Ferguson (140) and Rick Meek (171).

SLL: Eastwood s string of five straight Suburban Lakes League championships will be on the line Saturday at the Eagles home gym, as 2008 runner-up Elmwood looks to climb up one rung on the ladder.

Preliminary rounds start at 11 a.m., and the championship round is scheduled for 5 p.m.

But it won t be easy for the Royals of 22nd-year coach Dave Lee, whose team was beaten 42-27 by Eastwood in the recent SLL Duals. Elmwood is led by two returning SLL individual champs in Nick Goebel (103) and Alex Betts (145).

Eastwood, a Division II state power in recent seasons, collected nine individual titles at last year s SLL meet, when they outpointed runner-up Elmwood 235 to 169.5. The Royals are currently ranked seventh in the Division III state coaches poll.

NWOAL: If Delta is to repeat its Northwest Ohio Athletic League championship, the Panthers will likely have to overcome contenders Liberty Center and Wauseon, which each defeated Delta in dual matches.

Wauseon will host the 46th NWOAL tournament, which starts at 10 a.m. Saturday. The championship round will begin one hour after the conclusion of the consolation semifinal round.

Liberty Center captured the dual-match portion of the overall league championship chase, posting an 8-0 mark. Included were wins over Delta, 45-30, and Wauseon, 36-31. Wauseon topped Delta 39-30.

Returning individual champions bidding for repeats included Delta s Jonny Tolson (112) and Reid Rayfield (135), Liberty Center s Jake Elling (160) and Wauseon s Michael Perez (125).

OWL: Arcadia will attempt to claim its third straight Ohio Wrestling League title as it hosts the tournament beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Arcadia topped runner-upMcComb 142-109 last year.

Cardinal Stritch, which is led by Josh Reindel (140), placed third a year ago



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