For the first time since 2000, I ventured down to Columbus for the state wrestling tournament.
Veteran Reflector Sportswriter Don Hohler has taken care of me since I started at the Reflector in 2001. Since Don is understandably cutting back on his work load, I went to Saturday's finals.
It was exciting to say the least with a lot of area performers standing on the podium.
First, Congrats to all the competitors. It's not an easy sport.
Secondly, congrats to the 18 Reflector-area competitors in Divisioins II and III. Ten placed, including five that won state titles.
Monroeville's Fab 4 of Hunter Stieber, Logan Stieber, Cam Tessari and Chris Phillips are to be commended for their second straight season of winning four straight. That makes nine crowns, counting Logan's one as a freshman in 2007. Simply amazing.
When it's all said and done, they could have 16 state crowns among them.
Congrats to our heavyweights. Three of the top 16 places in Divisions II and III were from our coverage area.
Norwalk senior Jared Torrence battled back to take third in Division II. It can be easy to pack it in after a loss and not have a chance to go for a state title, but Torrence didn't let that happen.
St. Paul senior Chris Doughty ended up sixth in Division III, after going 0-2 last season.
But to me, the match of the night was South Central's Nick Hamilton against Massillon Tuslaw's John Morosko in the Division III 285-pound state title match.
A battle both ways, Hamilton won in the nick (yes, I know a bad pun) of time with a four-point move in the last 10 seconds. Hamilton lost two close matches at last season's state tournament. Yet, Saturday, he was atop the podium as a champ. I'm not sure who was more excited — Hamilton or the South Central coaching staff.
Even Doughty, who has lost to Hamilton seven times this season, was one of the first ones to congratulate the champ. A class act.
As Truckers coach Danny Helton told me afterward, "Our area has always been strong in wrestling and it definitely showed this weekend.''
Well said, well said.