With precious team points on the line, Delta senior Tyler Fahrer stunned the crowd with a phenomenal rally for a pin in the finals of the Maumee Bay Classic wrestling tournament on Saturday.
Fahrer's fall in overtime of the 160-pound weight class helped his Panthers edge out host Clay by just one point for the team title.
Fahrer squared off against Clay junior Nick Stencel in a battle of two state place winners. Stencel escaped with four seconds left in the first 30 second overtime period to take a 7-6 lead. But Fahrer, who was in the down position to start the second OT, hit a reversal with 24 seconds left and then pinned Stencel with 14 seconds remaining.
“I knew I was tired but I knew I had to push myself,” Fahrer said. “With the team so close to first place it really feels great because you can help your team. My dream is to become a state champion and you really have to work through those times.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos from the tournament.
The Panthers got individual titles from sophomore Jake Spiess (113), senior Kyle Keller (120), and Fahrer. Delta posted 228.5 points, while the Eagles finished with 227.5.
Clay, which had won the first three Bay Classic team titles, led Delta by nine points entering the final round. Each team had six wrestlers in the championship finals. The Panthers went 3-3, while the Eagles went 2-4.
“It was really satisfying to see the boys finish the day strong,” Delta coach Anthony Carrizales said. “It was a gut check and I'm real proud of them.”
The schools squared off head-to-head in the finals of two weight classes and split the two matches.
The Eagles' individual winners were junior Richie Screptock (132) and sophomore Matt Stencel (182).
Clay coach Ralph Cubberly said he was proud that 11 of his wrestlers placed.
“We're disappointed because Clay has won the tournament every year it's been here and we wanted to keep it going,” Cubberly said. “But in my book, you always learn more from a loss. So everyone has something to work on now. But you have to give credit to Delta. They were the heavy favorites.”
Fremont Ross senior Trey Grine won the 145-pound championship. Springfield senior Ross Lonsway earned the title at 195. Southview senior Hunter Topolski took first place at 220.
Clay still had a chance to move ahead of Delta going into the final weight class. In the consolation finals at 285, Clay senior Antonia Zapata needed a pin over Delta sophomore Chance Veller. Zapata won 5-3 but the Panthers locked up the team title.
“We told [Veller] for the sake of the team you can't get pinned,” Carrizales said. “He had to play it safe. We wanted him to go for the win, so he's mad.”
Fahrer (33-1) was named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler.
He trailed 5-4 after two periods and took the lead with a reversal but then Stencel tied it with an escape with 40 seconds left. Fahrer avenged a 12-4 loss to Stencel last week.
“When it comes down to it I knew I had enough left,” Fahrer said.
Fahrer's dramatic win vaulted Delta over Clay as the Panthers took a three-point lead.
But Nick Stencel's sophomore brother Matt Stencel avenged his sibling's tough setback with a 5-2 win over another Delta wrestler, Ryan Patchin.
Stencel prevailed 5-2 to improve to 20-4 at 182.
Matt Stencel said his brother's loss fired him up.
“It hurt because he's my brother. It was hard because he wanted it so bad. He lost and I felt I owed it to him,” Stencel said. “This is our house and I felt the urge to do this.”
Delta's Spiess pinned his first three opponents to reach the finals at 113. A 2013 state champion, Spiess (28-0) got an escape and takedown in the second period over Jake Donahue of Massillon Washington and won 3-0.
At 126, Keller (35-3) earned Delta's second win of the night with a 6-3 decision over Collin Dees of Perry. Keller's win pulled Delta within a point of Clay in the team race through the four weight classes.
But Clay's Screptock then decisioned Aaran Gessic of Perry 7-1 in the finals at 132.
At 138, the Eagles' Gavin Nelson (21-6) had a 5-0 lead over Lane Hinkle of Mount Vernon but lost 6-5.
In the 145 final, Delta freshman Jesse Beverly (27-5) lost 9-2 to Trey Grine, a senior from Fremont Ross. Grine moved his record to 26-1 with the dominating performance.
Clay led by three points at the halfway point of the meet.
Clay senior Jared Davis (22-5) reached the finals at 126 but fell 5-2 to Joshua Wimer of Central Crossing.
To start the finals round at 106, Delta freshman Drew Mattin suffered a tough 3-2 sudden death loss to Hunter Lucas of Lima Shawnee. Mattin (29-1) suffered his first setback when he could not escape in the third overtime.
Wauseon's Aaron Schuette (31-4) fell in the 170 finals 8-5 to Seth Williams of Tiffin Columbian. Perrysburg junior Cale Bonner lost 3-0 to Billy Miller of Perry in the 285 final.
Carrizales said the Bay Classic served as a turning point for his team, which finished fifth, last season.
“We hope it will be the same thing this year,” Carrizales said. “We had six champs last week at the [Perrysburg Invitational Tournament] but it was disappointing to not get the team win.
“This tournament started our run to our state dual meet championship last year.”