The tightest battle for the team title in the 42 year history of the Perrysburg Invitational Tournament played out under the spotlight on Saturday night.
The host Yellow Jackets protected its home mat by holding off a determined Delta team by just 4 ½ points.
Perrysburg led the Panthers by only 10 points entering the championship finals round that took place under spotlights in the darkened gym. The Yellow Jackets had seven wrestlers qualify to the finals of the 14 weight classes and the Panthers had six.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos from the invitational.
The schools squared off head-to-head in just two matches and Delta prevailed in both. The Panthers also won all six matches in the finals and held the team lead twice.
But Perrysburg won five of seven matches to secure just enough points to defend its 2013 PIT title with 290.5 points to Delta's 286. Wauseon, which had two champions, was third (155), followed by Oak Harbor (147).
The Yellow Jackets did not clinch the meet the until the 195-pound weight class when senior Kadin Llewellyn secured a big pin on Whitmer's Jacob LaPoint. Llewellyn led 15-5 when he took LaPoint to his back with 1:37 left in the match.
Llewellyn (24-4) earned four points for the win and two more bonus points for the fall to give his team an insurmountable 6 ½ point lead despite Delta having one more wrestler left with two matches remaining.
“I knew the lead had been going back and forth the whole time,” Llewellyn said. “I was trying not to listen but it was creeping into the back of my mind. I just went in there thinking about winning the match. Right after my coach told me and I was really enthusiastic to be able to help my team like that.”
The Yellow Jackets' other champions were Mario Guillen (113), J.P. Newton (152), Rocco Caywood (182), and Cale Bonner (285).
Delta got titles from Drew Martin (106), Jake Spiess (120), Kyle Keller (126), Dustin Marteney (138), Tyler Fahrer (160), and Devon Richard (220).
“Usually by midway through the finals a team will have run away but I kept hearing the announcer say the lead had switched,” Perrysburg coach Sam Cotterman said. “I try not to pay too much attention to that. If we are supposed to win we will.”
Caywood, a Perrysburg senior, posted a 5-3 decision over defending state champion Aaron Adkins of Akron St. Vincent St. Mary in the 182 final to give the team lead back to the Yellow Jackets by a slim ½ point.
Caywood scored a takedown just 10 seconds into the match and put it away with another takedown with 18 seconds left in the bout. Caywood (25-3) earned the most outstanding wrestler award.
“This feels awesome, getting some pins and then beating the state champ in the final,” Caywood said. “When it comes to my match, I try to zone everything out. This is our house and this is huge.”
Perrysburg heavyweight Cale Bonner (21-2) provided the exclamation point with a 7-3 decision over Corey Durbin of Fremont St. Joseph.
At 120, a potential major upset turned into a dramatic victory for Spiess (21-0), Delta's defending state champion. Perrysburg freshman Moises Guillen led Spiess 2-0 after getting a reversal in the second period.
Guillen (19-5) maintained the precarious edge until Spiess escaped with 26 seconds left in the match to make it 2-1. Then with just 10 seconds left, Spiess took Guillen to his back for a two-point takedown to complete the 3-2 win.
“Seconds were winding down and I just had to get it done,” Spiess said. “You just got to want it. I just never stopped. He's tough. It was a double overthrow. It was amazing. This never gets old. ”
Another terrific match took place at 126. Keller (26-3), a Delta senior who placed fourth at state, outlasted freshman Joe Koontz of St. Mary.
Keller tied the match at 8 with a reversal with 52 seconds left in the third period. The match remained knotted after two overtimes and Keller prevailed by not allowing Koontz to escape in a final sudden death overtime period and won 9-8.
The win pulled Delta within two points, 271-269, in the team standings.
Marteney, a sophomore, then gave the Panthers the lead with a convincing 11-2 win over Oak Harbor junior Jeremy Balboa (13-7) in the 138 final. Marteney (25-2) racked up eight back points in the second to seize control and gave the Panthers a three-point lead in the team standings.
Newton, a senior, regained the lead for the Yellow Jackets with a 19-4 technical fall over Defiance's Robbie Bowers. Wrestling strong on his feet, Newton (20-3) recorded six takedowns to give his team 5 1/2 points and a 2 1/2 point lead over Delta.
It was Newton's 120th record in his career, tying him for a school record.
Fahrer, a Delta senior, re-established a 3 ½ point team lead for the Panthers when he pinned Tre Campbell (21-4) of Wauseon in the finals at 160. Fahrer (25-1) used an arm bar to get the fall.
“This is a nice building block for the team,” Fahrer said. “With my teammates winning before me, it was an adrenaline booster.”
Richard (22-4), a Delta sophomore, did all he could with a fall in the 220 final. But Richard's pin with 1:15 left in the match, which came after a reversal, pulled his team only back within a ½ point.
In the 103-pound final, Delta freshman Mattin controlled Perrysburg sophomore Khyron Vidales (18-5) through the majority of the match. Mattin remained undefeated (24-0) with a 6-0 win.
One of the most highly anticipated matches took place in the finals at 113 where state placers Mario Guillen (24-3) of Perrysburg squared off with Napoleon's Seth Beard (22-2).
A defensive stalemate ensued as the wrestlers jockeyed to get into position to score. Guillen, who took fifth at state, escaped with 1:46 left for the only points in the match. The Perrysburg sophomore won 1-0 over Beard, a sophomore who finished second at state last season. Both had pinned their way to the finals.
Wauseon junior Wade Hodges (26-3) dominated Alec Benedetti of North Royalton 7-0 in the final at 132. It was Hodges' 100th career win and pushed his season mark to 26-3.
At 145, Defiance's Seth Meyer decisioned Oak Harbor's Ben Peterson 6-1.
Wauseon senior Aaron Schuette (26-2), a state runner up last season, posted an 8-2 win over Mark Barrow of New Philadelphia at 170.
Perrysburg won the PIT last season for the first time since 1997.
“When you host your own tournament … it's very important to win it,” Cotterman said. “We keep making it tougher and tougher. In the long run that makes us a better team.”