Celina wrestling team looking
for first WBL mat title
By GARY R. RASBERRY
For Adam Gray and the rest of the Celina wrestling team, it
has been a long climb. In his four years as a MatDog, he has
been close to that elusive number nine.
Nine as in nine league dual match wins, aka an undefeated season.
Last year it came down to the last league match with Celina
going in 8-0, only to have Wapak spoil the record and deny the
Bulldogs a 9-0 record going into the WBL meet.
“Honestly, I didn’t think we would be as good as
we are this season,” said Gray, who won four bouts on
Saturday to end his home career on a high note in winning the
152-pound title at the Lions Invitational. “I thought
last year was the year.”
Now, going into the eighth league match of the season tonight
at Ottawa-Glandorf, the MatDogs have a shot at clinching at
least a share of the WBL regular season title, a big step in
getting a chance for the overall championship at the league
meet in Elida on Feb. 7.
The MatDogs have had their success despite having to void their
top two weight classes most of the season. The past several
meets, Celina has not had anyone at 215 or 275.
“We’ve made up a lot of points,” said Gray.
“Everyone is doing a nice job.”
Junior Jantzen Hinton, who along with Adam Gray, Garrett Gray
and Cody Wagner made up the captains for the team, gives a lot
of credit to the freshmen like Andy Swain and Nick Gray.
“I know Swain has been doing well, as well as (Nick Gray),”
said Hinton, who had a chance to wrestle with his brother Jordan
last season. “The underclassmen have been surprising us
this year. It’s partly because we’re pulling these
high places at tournaments with two voids. The young guys at
the lower weights are doing well.”
A win over the Titans, who are winless in WBL dual matches this
season, would give the MatDogs their first ever WBL regular-season
title. The MatDogs have never won or shared the league title
since starting its wrestling program in the early 1970s.
In the years Celina has had a wrestling program, the Bulldogs
haven’t finished higher than third-place overall. Last
season was a big year as Celina went 8-1 after two straight
6-3 seasons. If the MatDogs can place in the top three at the
WBL tournament, the team could earn its first overall title.
Even with history being very close, Celina isn’t looking
ahead to the WBLs, or even Monday’s season-ending match
“We’re not looking ahead,” said Hinton, who
is 21-4 this season. “You have to look at every opponent
one at a time. We can’t be looking at Defiance right now,
or the WBLs right now. We can’t think ‘If we get
first there (at the WBL), it’s ours.’ We have to
think about what’s right in front of us. You have to train
yourself to keep everything in perspective.”
For Adam Gray, it has been a good struggle to have. Coming into
this season, Gray was the only senior on the roster. Gray was
fortunate that the majority of the returning underclassmen were
returnees to the varsity from last season.
“It’s a young team, but they acted like they were
older,” said Gray. “I never have to get on anybody.
Gray has been a strong competitor this season, taking a 23-3
record into tonight’s match. Gray holds a 6-1 record in
WBL bouts, making him a contender for a top seed at the WBL
It’s been a family affair for the Grays this season. Adam’s
cousins Nick and Garrett have been dominant this season. Nick
has shined in his freshman season, going 19-7. Older brother
Garrett is among the best in the area at 145 pounds, going 26-1
so far with the lone loss coming at the Madison Invitational
“The whole team is a family,” said Garrett. “Your
brother is out there and you want him to win just as much as
The big centerpoint of the season was Celina’s win over
Wapakoneta at the Fieldhouse, avenging last season’s loss.
“Everyone on the team thought we could beat Wapak. “That
was our one shot to step up our level of wrestling. We were
all focused. Coach (Joel Zacharias, along with assistant coach
Terry Wagner) did a great job. We wanted to win that bad. It
The approach to getting ready means the team is ready to go
when the coaches make it to the practice area at the CAPT Center.
“Before practice, we have our time to (mess) around,”
said Wagner, who is 24-4 this season, “But when 3:15 gets
here and the coaches walk through the door, we all know it’s
time to get down to business. We all push ourselves past where
we thought we could push ourselves. We all work very hard in
practice. A lot of our wins this year come from working hard