Hahn, Owens hope to get a shot at top prize this year

J. Patrick Eaken

Eastwood, the reigning Northern Buckeye Conference wrestling champions, returns eight letter winners, including three Division III state qualifiers.

Gavin Owens (45-7) last year qualified for state at 120 pounds, Brandon Hahn (48-2) at 126 and Jimmy Recknagel (40-11) at 152. All are already off to a good start this year, winning individual titles at the seven-team Lakota Pool Tourney.

Last year, Maynard, Xavier Escobedo and Owens were NBC champions and Hahn won a sectional and district championship, plus he excelled at top D-III tournaments hosted by Van Buren and Lima Central Catholic. Owens is a junior this year, Hahn and Recknagel are seniors.

Hahn is a three-time state qualifier, placing fourth in 2019, and Owens is a two-time state qualifier, finishing as state runner-up in 2019. Also returning at 113 pounds is Bryce Maynard, who qualified for state in 2019. 

In 2020, Eastwood’s three state qualifiers did not get to wrestle for placement because the state meet was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hahn and Owens have told The Press it is their ambition to win a state championship and they did not get that opportunity last year. Neither did anyone else in Ohio.

“For guys like Owens and Hahn, their whole season is the state tournament,” said longtime coach Eastwood coach Joe Wyant. “They’re quality guys and a lot of guys are happy to make it. Recknagel (was) super happy that he made it for the first time and that was a great accomplishment for him because he’s put in a lot of weight loss, a lot of work to make weight all the time — it (had) been a struggle all year. But it was good for him just to go, but for Owens and Hahn everyone expected them to be there.”

Eastwood’s league championship last year came after Genoa previously won two titles in a row, and then went on to win four D-III state championships — two in the team duals tourney and two in the individual championships. 

However, if Eastwood is to repeat an NBC title they will have to fight off no points at some weight classes. For the second year in a row, the Eagles have quality wrestlers, just not a lot of depth.

“We have six or seven very solid wrestlers and young guys are improving every day,” said Wyant. “We have low numbers with only 15 wrestlers, with five being freshmen. We are not very deep, having to forfeit two or three weight classes each dual.”

Still, Wyant expects his Eagles to finish in the “top two or three” of the NBC this year, adding that the league has a “good balance with many quality wrestlers.”

Last year, the Eagles were 15-5 in dual meets and won a regional championship, advancing to the D-III state dual meet, where the No. 4 seeded Eagles lost 43-28 to No. 5 seed Brookville at Ohio State University’s St. John Arena.

In that state quarterfinal, things started really well for the No. 4 seeded Eagles, winning five of the first six weight classes, including three by pin. The Eagles’ strengths continue to be the lower weight classes this year.

Maynard is generally wrestling at 113 this year, Hahn at 120, Owens at 126 and Recknagel at 170. Key wrestlers joining the four state qualifiers are Cody Perkins (113), Escobedo (145 pounds), Bryce Hesselbart (160) and Dalton Hesselbart (182).

At the Lakota Pool Tourney, Eastwood scored 190 points to finish second behind champion Oak Harbor (227). Elmwood (179) was third, followed by Fremont Ross (118½), Lakota (103), Hopewell-Loudon (98½) and Fremont St. Joseph (16).

Eastwood had five champions — Maynard (113), Hahn (126), Owens (132), Escobedo (145) and Bryce Hesselbart (170). This is where the lack of depth failed for Eastwood — all five champions defeated Oak Harbor wrestlers, but the Rockets’ depth pushed them to a team championship.

In the championship matches, Maynard defeated Oak Harbor junior Michael Judge 3-1 in overtime; Hahn won an 11-3 major decision over senior Tyler Davis; Owens pinned sophomore Owen Miller in 4:38; Escobedo won over second place junior Cade Petersen; and Bryce Hesselbart won a 6-0 decision over sophomore Broch Mansor.

Recknagel was Eastwood’s only second place finisher and Dalton Hesselbart finished third, both wrestling at 182. Eastwood freshman Caiden Maize finished fourth at 132 and freshman Austin Maize finished fourth at 138, 

In his 18 years as Eastwood coach, Wyant has seen his teams go 186-69. Before that, he coached at Lakota 27 years, including six as head coach, where his teams went 68-27. 

His teams have won 15 league championships overall, including three as head coach, and he was inducted into the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.

Wyant has told The Press that he tries to instill a team wrestling philosophy, which may became more important than ever this year with low roster numbers. Once again, many wrestlers may find themselves in a different class just to help win one for the team.

“Everybody has always considered wrestling an individual sport. I, in all my years coaching, have always tried to make it a team sport,” Wyant told The Press. “I think this tournament, the state duals, has drawn our kids to root for each other, pay more attention to each other, so I think it’s a great benefit that we have it.”

“Sometimes you go to big tournaments and you can’t even see your kids wrestle, and they can’t see their friends wrestle, because they’ve got to wrestle in another gym or they are in a hallway because the tournaments are so big. So, this draws more unity as a team and I really enjoy that — guys rooting for everybody and the team concept of wrestling,” Wyant continued. 

“I tried to always make it a team sport — try to keep the individualism out of it until the last two weeks of the year. At district and state, it’s about the individual and it’s all about you. Until then, we are a team.”





The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association