Local Pictures
Classified Ads
 Announce Births
Email Us
Buy A Copy
Local Links

Issue Index

01-29-04: Closing in on history

Celina wrestling team looking for first WBL mat title


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 at Defiance.
“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. They’re responsible.”
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 meet.
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 in December.
“The whole team is a family,” said Garrett. “Your brother is out there and you want him to win just as much as everyone else.”
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 was great.”
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 (in practice).”


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822


L10 Web Stats Reporter 3.15 LevelTen Hit Counter - Free Web Counters
LevelTen Web Design Company - Website Development, Flash & Graphic Designers