COLUMBUS — The Oak Harbor wrestlers would be content with repeating history.
At the Ohio State Wrestling Tournament today, they’ll have their chance to tie the Rockets’ 2008 team with three Division II state champions.
Drew Stone, Ian Miller and Konner Witt earned a chance to wrestle under the spotlight tonight with decisions Friday night in the semifinals. Teammate Jake Cramer was victorious in the consolation quarterfinals, taking place concurrently.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” coach George Bergman said. “It’s just an unbelievable experience to go four-for-four here and have guys perform like they did. This is why you train all year: To come through at this big stage. They all did it. What more can I say?”
There are a lot of parallels between the 2010 Rockets and the 2008 squad, for which Kirk Tank (152), Keith Witt (171) and Cody Magrum (189) won titles.
In 2008, Tank avenged a loss in the state finals to Graham’s Coby Boyd the season before, beating Boyd in overtime for the title.
Stone, the 2009 state runner-up, will have a second chance at the guy who made him settle for second. He fell to Walsh Jesuit’s Johnni DiJulius in the finals last year, 1-0. He runs into DiJulius again on Saturday in the title match.
“I was really nervous, because that’s all I wanted to do was get back, and then I could get another shot at Johnni, and hopefully win,” Stone said.
Stone moved into the finals with a 12-10 decision over Kenston’s Tre Smith, which wa a little too close for him.
“He actually reversed me with six seconds left to my back, which was scary. Luckily I was ahead by enough,” he said.
Keith Witt’s (171) victory helped motivate his younger brother, Konner (152), to success.
“It was my freshman year and I was in the stands. It was pretty amazing watching him,” Witt said. “I always wanted to do it, win a state title — that just made me want to win one more. To have the opportunity (to have three champions), just like them, is even better. Hopefully we can do it again.”
Witt said he’s eager to step out of his older brother’s shadow, but there’s an added bonus: “Having the chance to do it with my two best friends is even better.”
Witt won an 11-4 decision over Celina’s Alex Dues in the semifinals. He’ll face two-time state champion Harrison Hightower (130 champ in 2008, 140 in 2009) of University School in the finals.
Ian Miller (145) is the last piece of the 2010 Rockets team in the finals tonight. He said making the finals actually took some of the pressure off of him.
“It’s been a goal for me since I was a biddy,” he said. “I wanted to be a state champ. This year, I’m almost there.
“Coming into the tournament, I felt like I had a lot of pressure on me. Everyone wanted me, expected me to be in the finals. Now I’m in the finals, there’s loads of pressure off.”
Miller won a 10-3 decision of Conrad Rosch of Canal Winchester. Even though he was ahead by seven in the final minute, he said, he kept pushing for another point for a major decision, helping the team point standings.
Finishing third in the 135-pound weight class in 2009 helped him prepare for this year, he said.
“Taking third last year showed me what I needed to do this year to get to the stage and be in the finals. It made me train harder this year.”
The Rockets sent seven kids to the state tournament this year. Four are still alive and scoring points.
Bergman said if the three kids in the finals win championships, he would consider this the best team in Oak Harbor history. They finished better at the Iron Man tournament and better at the Medina tournament. It’s about the results, he said.
“(The 2008) team had three superstars,” Bergman said. “This team, we get it done a little different way, with more guys than what they had.
“These guys want to be known as having the best team that Oak Harbor ever had. That’s what fuels them and keeps them working. And we’re real close to doing it right now, so I’m real happy for them.”