People have been talking about tonight for a long time, at least three years.
'Will Monroeville's Fab Four really win four titles each?'
This is the day everyone finds out.
"Ever since freshman year, people were all talking about, 'Oh, you're going to be a four-time state champ if you win as a freshman.' Everyone assumes," Hunter Stieber said. "It's every year that they talk about it."
Stieber, in the 135-pound weight class, as well as classmates Cam Tessari at 140 and Chris Phillips at 171, will look for his fourth state wrestling title tonight, under the lights of Value City Arena in Columbus.
If the trio can complete its task this weekend, it will mark the first time that three wrestlers from the same school won their fourth state title in the same year. No Ohio school has ever had two four-time champions in the same season.
Stieber (135) heads into his final high school match against Edison's Tyler Majoy, who Hunter has already seen four times this season, including the sectional and district finals.
"You always dream about being here four times," Hunter said. "I've never really put it all together in my head to think that I could do it."
His brother, Logan, a four-timer himself and the elder of the Monroeville clan, coached his brother through several matches this weekend, including Hunter's 8-1 semifinal victory over Troy Christian's Jordan Marshall.
"It's always good to have him in the corner," Hunter said. "He's real knowledgeable. He knows how to get prepared, and he does the little things, little tweaks here and there to help us out."
If Hunter wins today, the Stiebers would become the fourth set of brothers with four state titles each. They would take place among wrestling royalty: Jim and Jeff Jordan, Collin and Lance Palmer, C.P. and Dustin Schlatter.
Tessari earned his way to the finals with a 15-0 tech fall over West Salem Northwestern's Logan Hershey in his Friday night semifinal match. He'll face Akron Manchester's Shane Brown (46-0) tonight.
"It feels great, but it's still not over yet," Tessari said. "I've got to go out there, stay prepared, mentally focused. I've got to go out there ready to kick some (butt) tomorrow."
Phillips had the toughest semifinal match, an 8-6 victory over Doylestown Chippewa's Bryson Hall, who entered the match at 44-0 with a stated goal of knocking off the three-time champion.
"You have to respect him for (staying in the weight class), but I think if I was him, I probably wouldn't have announced it publicly," Phillips said. "When I heard about that, it just made me work harder, made me prepare a little bit harder. You have to respect that he's not afraid to wrestle the toughest kids. He stayed at that weight class, stayed at '71. Usually kids don't do that to me."
The Monroeville 171 stayed with high-percentage moves without forcing anything. Phillips said he would take what was presented. He led 8-4 to start the third period, but was tagged twice for stalling. Though it was just a two-point win, Phillips said he was in control the whole match.
Tonight, Phillips will take a shot at Troy Christian's B.J. Toal, 31-7.
"They've put themselves in a position to make history, and they're wrestling really well," Monroeville coach Scott Bauer said.
Bauer said that today was all about the wrestlers.
"We want them to be comfortable," he said. "If they want to come in the morning and watch the consies, that's cool. If they want to come over and just get a good workout in, that's fine. If they want to sleep in a little bit, that's fine. We just want the focus to be on them.
"And we're not really worried about the team race. It's going to be close, that's just the way it is. Just be happy for them, and if there's anything we can do to help them out, then that's our job."
Phillips said that he wasn't concerned with winning No. 4:
"I'm not really worried about winning my fourth state title -- I'm just concerned about winning this state title.