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Bulldog wrestling squad led by state qualifiers

By Cort Reynolds

The Ada High School varsity wrestling program lost some key grapplers to off-season injuries, but returns a pair of state meet competitors and a young district qualifier to lead the team in 2023-24.

Senior Clayton McClain and sophomore Marley Bulerin advanced to the state tournament last year and look to return. Bulerin became the first Bulldog to make it to Columbus in the inaugural OHSAA-sponsored girls state tournament.

Three letter winners are back, with the state tandem accompanied by sophomore district qualifier Silas Riblet.

Thus, the good news is that the top three wrestlers return from last season. But a previously deep and young roster was gutted this year by injuries and some solid junior lettermen unexpectedly not coming back to wrestle this winter.

“This year we have a rather young team,” said veteran Ada head coach Eric Perkins. “Two of our three returning letter winners, Marley and Clayton, are state qualifiers who can provide valuable leadership, and Silas qualified for districts.”

McClain posted a fine 40-12 record last year at the 144/150 weight classes, and is 86-27 over his Bulldog career. 

Bulerin authored a 30-7 record vs. girls as a freshman, and Riblet went 28-14 in his first year.

McClain is expected to move up in weight to the 157 and 165 lbs. divisions this winter. 

Bulerin will compete at 125 lbs. Riblet will wrestle in the 106 and 113 lbs. divisions.

Five freshmen on the 10-person roster will play key roles, along with four sophomores. McClain is the lone senior, and the team has no juniors.

Others in the projected lineup are freshmen Matthew Caudill and Zaiden Denslow at 126 lbs., freshman Wyatt Fisher (138), freshman Kale Pedersen at 144/150, freshman Layne Simon (150/157), freshman Steven Fisher (215/285) and sophomore Peyton Karsten (285).

In all, 10 wrestlers comprise the roster.


The feisty McClain looks to return to the Schottenstein Center at Columbus and hopefully get on the podium at state. 

“Clayton has gotten better every year,” said Perkins. “He has been incredibly focused to start the year. He has been one of our hardest workers in the weight room, and as we have gotten started in practice. 

“He is driven to try to build on last year’s success, and has set high goals for himself,” the coach added. 

Energetic senior McClain is the team's most accomplished returnee.

McClain won the 2023 NWC title at 144 lbs. with a 5-0 mark featuring three pins. He then went on to win sectionals at 144 with a 3-0 record. 

At the district level, he went 3-2 to finish fourth and become the third Bulldog male grappler to make it to the state event.

At Columbus, he lost his first two bouts to be eliminated.

McClain also went 27-11 as a sophomore and won a match at district.


The energetic Bulerin is expected to have another strong season, and should be even better with a year of experience.

“Marley had a great freshman year,” said Perkins. “She got a ton of valuable experience, and got to participate in the first girls OHSAA state tournament. 

“We have put together a challenging girls tournament schedule to try to prepare her as best we can to hopefully build on last year's success,” he continued. “She has really embraced the leadership role and been a positive, focused presence in the practice room.” 

Bulerin advanced to the inaugural OHSAA girls state meet by finishing third out of 20 wrestlers at the regional meet. She registered a 4-1 record at regionals to qualify for Columbus.

Riblet enjoyed a fine freshman campaign as well.

“Silas is a very smart wrestler,” Perkins observed. “He is very skilled for a second-year wrestler. Silas is quiet, but he is a very hard worker and has been a very positive person to have in the practice room.”

Riblet took second in the 106 lbs. bracket at the 2023 NWC championship event. He registered a 2-1 record with a pair of pins in the title meet. He then took second in the sectionals at 106 with a 2-1 mark.

Riblet then posted a 1-2 mark at districts to finish his strong freshman campaign.

In the league race last season, Columbus Grove dethroned five-time defending champion Allen East at the Northwest Conference championship tournament to win their first conference crown.  

Tournament host Spencerville took second, while 11-time champion AE dropped to third.

Ada finished eighth at the league meet, just one point behind three-time champion Bluffton and seven points in arrears to Delphos Jefferson.

The Bulldog wrestlers are simply looking for sustained improvement this season. 

“Our focus, as it always is, has just been on getting better every day,” Perkins noted. “It doesn't take years of experience in wrestling to come in with a good attitude and work as hard as you can.”

Veteran assistant David Ames and newcomer Kade Wireman, a recent standout grappler at Allen East, round out the coaching staff.

The Ada boys open their mat season December 9 at the annual Cory-Rawson Duals. The first girls meet is at Clyde Dec. 17, followed by the Findlay Invite Dec. 21-22.

The Bulldogs are slated to hold the Ada Invitational on February 3, and for the first time they host the annual Northwest Conference championship meet on Feb. 17.  

Sectionals will be in Lima Feb. 24, with the girls regionals March 2. 

If the top Bulldogs remain healthy, Ada hopes to get three wrestlers deep into post-season competition in March.


The Ada varsity wrestling team, from left, front: Zaiden Denslow, Wyatt
Fisher, Matthew Caudill.
Row 2: Kale Pedersen, Marley Bulerin, Clayton McClain, Silas Riblet.
Row 3: Landon Simon, Ken Zheng, Mohamad Khalil, Silas Riblet, Cooper
Back: assistant coach Kade Wireman, Peyton Karsten, Layne Simon, Steven
Fisher, assistant coach David Ames.
Absent: head coach Eric Perkins.

The Ada returning wrestling letter winners, from left: Clayton McClain,
Marley Bulerin, Silas Riblet.