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Maumee Wrestling Team Places Fourth At NLL Tournament

Maumee sophomore Alex Drown tries to turn Bowling Green’s Griffin Black during the Northern Lakes League wrestling tournament on February 3. Drown helped the Panthers to a fourth-place finish by placing fourth in the 152-pound weight class. MIRROR PHOTO BY JOE NEGRICH

BY ANDY ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS — Seniors Justin Schneider and Brandon Phillips were each crowned individual champions on February 3, when they led Maumee’s wrestling team to a fourth-place finish at the Northern Lakes League tournament. A 145-pounder, Schneider began the tournament by pinning Bowling Green’s Arturo Beltran (0:27) and Perrysburg’s Ayden Steinline (3:03) and finished it off with a 15-2 major decision over Napoleon runner-up Ethan French. Schneider was a runner-up as a junior last year. “Justin Schneider is probably our most consistent wrestler right now,” said Maumee wrestling coach Ken Walczak. “I’m very pleased that Justin won a league championship. He’s got a lot of goals and that was one of them.” At 220, Phillips pinned his way to his third NLL championship with consecutive victories over Northview’s Moeen Awwad (1:04), Anthony Wayne’s Luke Harrell (0:46) and Napoleon runner-up Sebastian Chavez (2:41). “It was good to see Brandon back in the lineup,” Walczak said. “Brandon has been battling some health issues and was a little rusty, but I think he’s back to his old self. He was dominating.” A four-time NLL placer, Phillips was a runner-up as a freshman. Two more Panthers seniors – Noah Pasquinelli and Ryan Haas – finished as runners-up this year. After a first-round bye at 170, Pasquinelli pinned Napoleon’s Xavier Johnson (4:23) before getting narrowly edged by Perrysburg’s Ethan Garee in a 5-4 championship match. Pasquinelli also placed second as a junior and took fourth as a sophomore. “I know Noah is disappointed that he lost a one-point match for the second year in a row,” Walczak said. Ryan Haas (182) started things off with a 16-0 technical fall over Perrysburg’s Ryan Musgrove and then pinned Northview’s Beha Awwad before suffering a slim 4-3 loss to Napoleon’s Wes Jeffries-Babcock. “Ryan was very disappointed that he let that one slip away from him,” Walczak said. Ryan Haas was also an NLL runner-up as a junior and a sophomore. Maumee ended up with three more wrestlers placing in the tournament’s upper half, as freshman Conner Kish (106), senior Weison Lam (132) and sophomore Alex Drown (152) all finished fourth. Kish had a pair of byes and suffered losses to eventual Napoleon champion Caleb Hernandez (1:10) and third-place Southview finisher Killian Cannon (1:52). “Conner is a freshman that weighs 88 pounds and gives up a lot of weight,” Walczak said. “I’m happy just for him to be in there battling and competing like that.” Lam had a bye and pinned Southview’s Jake Schmidt (3:00) and dropped matches to eventual Perrysburg champion Curtis Carpenter (1:59) and third-place Anthony Wayne finisher Nick Schneider (0:55). “Weison is a senior that just keeps working everyday, so I was very happy to see him place,” Walczak said. Drown wrestled to a 25-6 major decision over BG’s Griffin Black (15-6), pinned Southview’s Josh Fritch and lost to eventual Perrysburg runner-up Broc Ryan (8-0) and Springfield third-place finisher Sy Tubbs (7-5). “I thought Alex had a very good tournament by placing fourth, and he just missed third,” Walczak said. “He’s a guy that comes to practice every day, works hard and doesn’t say a lot, but he’s just gotten better and better and better each day.” Senior Mason Haas (138) and sophomore Tyler Wilson (160) also won matches in the tournament and sophomore Hunter VanDusen (120) and senior heavyweight Matt Dalton also competed for the Panthers. Mason Haas had previously placed second in the NLL as a junior and fourth as a sophomore. “Mason probably had the toughest weight class in the tournament,” Walczak said. “I know that Mason had a goal to be a league champ.” Maumee failed to field wrestlers in the 113-, 126- and 195-pound weight classes. “With the team that we brought into the league tournament, we were really disappointed,” Walczak said. “Even though we were missing some guys that we thought we would have had at the beginning of the year, we still thought we were the third-best team in the league. We just didn’t get it done.” Napoleon snapped Perrysburg’s winning streak at seven years by winning the tournament with 181 points. The Yellow Jackets placed second with 158.5 and Anthony Wayne took third with 129. The Panthers’ 108 points allowed them to finish ahead of Bowling Green (84), Springfield (80), Northview (53.5) and Southview (15). “We just came up a little short,” Walczak said. “In 2016 we were fifth in the league and we scored 80 points. Last year, we were fourth in the league and we scored 95 points. This year, we scored 108 points. So, they improved every year, and that they can be proud of.” Maumee will close out its regular season with dual matches against St. John’s Jesuit and Napoleon before starting state tournament action at the Clyde sectional on February 24. “No Maumee team has ever had five state qualifiers before,” Walczak said. “If the Haas brothers, Schneider, Pasquinelli and Phillips wrestle as well as they are capable of – they could do it. It’s a matter of us getting healthy and getting in the right mental frame of mind, and then we’ll see what happens.”

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