Alex Gearig of Springfield prepares to pin Daniel Jewell of Rossford in Saturday's 119-pound championship match at Perrysburg High School. The Blue Devils won three individual titles.
Two historical wrestling feats were reached in Perrysburg's gymnasium Saturday.
One was the end to a long drought, the other the culmination of a superb individual career.
Anthony Wayne won its first Northern Lakes League team title in 38 years, and Springfield's Garrett Manley joined four other NLL standouts by capturing his fourth league championship.
Neither accomplishment was a lock to happen. Anthony Wayne had to recover from a poor showing in the semifinal round to win, and Manley had to get past the Generals' two-time NLL champ Bill Irwin in the 130-pound final.
Finishing with 143 points, the Generals never surrendered their lead during the final round, prevailing reasonably comfortably over contenders Perrysburg (129) and Springfield (123).
"We told the kids they're wrestling for everyone who has worn an Anthony Wayne singlet over the last 38 years," Generals coach Ryan Donley said. "We had a monkey on our back, and it was time for the monkey to go away."
Rounding out the team scoring was: Maumee 83; Southview 67; Bowling Green 62; Rossford 61, and Northview 46. Anthony Wayne also won the NLL's season championship, which factors in results of the tournament as well as league dual meets.
Only two Generals won individual championships, equaling the total of Maumee and falling short of Springfield, which won three straight from 119-130, and Perrysburg, which crowned five champions as part of a marvelous final round.
Anthony Wayne's champions - Christian Yates, 103, and Alex Bridges, 189 - were assisted by three runners-ups, three third place finishers, and five more individuals who finished fourth. Six Generals lost in the championship semifinal round earlier in the day, but each rebounded with a win to qualify for the consolation final.
Donley said a banner reading "1972 ends with you" is hanging in the Generals' wrestling facility.
"It means a lot," said Bridges, a 15-4 winner over Bowling Green's Ben Bembry. "There's been some good teams over the past 38 years, and no one was able to accomplish it."
Yates pinned Southview's Bryce Ibarra in 5:33 to begin the round.
Manley stopped Irwin 6-3 in the night's marquee bout and proved that a one-year leap from 112 to 130 would not derail his quest for a fourth title. Manley scored a takedown early and added another in the second period to offset a pair of back points awarded to Irwin. Including dual meets and nonleague sanctioned tournaments, Manley has never lost to an NLL wrestler.
"They've all been tough matches," Manley said. "It became a goal after my second [title]. I wasn't really thinking about it after the first one."
Added Springfield coach Tim Dishong, who also crowned winners Alex Gearig (119) and Robbie Shiekh (125): "A lot of good kids have come through this league and to only have five [four-time winners] is an unreal accomplishment."
Perrysburg coach Matt Boggs was ecstatic over a tremendous final round in which his team won seven of nine matches. Winning titles were Ryan Roth (112), Logan Buehler (145), Austin Morris (160), Micah Carter (215), and Troy Spangler (285).
"We came out ready to wrestle and were working on getting the first leg attack," Boggs said. "We did everything we were supposed to do, and we wrestled well."
Buehler won an 8-3 decision over Maumee's Dalton Cleghorn despite not having practiced nor competed since suffering an elbow injury a month ago. Such an extended period away from the mat hindered Buehler, who built an early lead before admittedly tiring.
"I can't use the right arm much, so I had to be conservative and take points when I could get them," Buehler said.
Maumee senior Ryan Hickerson celebrated his 18th birthday with a 10-2 rout of Northview's Shane Modrzinski in the 152-pound final. Hickerson's sophomore brother, Cody, pinned Springfield's Cody O'Connor in 1:49 to collect the 140-pound championship.
Not only was Ryan Hickerson competing in his first ever NLL tournament as a senior, but he also was unseeded.
"The past few weeks I've been wrestling really well," said Hickerson, now 14-11 overall. "That's about it. It's confidence."
Also winning titles were Bowling Green's Nick Miller (135) and Rossford's D.J. Recknagel (171). Recknagel avenged a regular season loss to Southview's Garson Darrin, prevailing 10-6 behind a momentous takedown with 30 seconds to go.
"I wrestled a lot better on my feet [than in the loss to Darrin]," Recknagel said. "In the third period it didn't show as much because I got taken down a couple of times, but the ankle pick I hit at the end of the match was huge."
If not for an overtime loss in the NLL finals as a freshman, Recknagel would enter next year's NLL tournament in position to join Manley by winning four titles.
"From the perspective of another wrestler, that's a huge accomplishment," Recknagel said.
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