By: Dj Deiter – BG Christian parent
“I have a lot of passion for the sport and already my boys have exceeded any of my meager accomplishments in it. However, I think Shelley Lee [Development Director] would concur with me on the other reasons why I love the sport. Her husband was my wrestling coach and to this day I still help coach alongside of him. The sport itself has taught me a tremendous amount of life lessons that I know are being absorbed by these young boys as well. It is a very competitive sport, while many say is more individual, the team atmosphere and competition comes as they get older. Each wrestler obtains an understanding of hard work, dedication, perseverance, tenacity, humility, accountability and self-motivation to name just a few characteristics. This is one of the few sports I know that, although you train with a team, you perform as one. The outcome of the match is entirely in your hands with no one else to thank or blame but yourself, which I think most successful people understand in life. Life is full of obstacles, peaks and valleys, but in the end you have to fall back on your faith and character to be the rock of foundation to push ahead.”
The OAC (Ohio Athletic Committee), has organized and put on the path to the Grade School State tournament for 11 years. It has rivaled other attempts to accomplish this and has emerged in the last 5 years as the “true” state tournament. A second organization, Ohioway, sponsors the other State Tournament. However, the OAC has done a very good job of mimicking how the High School tournament is run in Columbus at OSU’s Schottenstien Center.
OAC holds its event at the Covelli Center in Youngstown. It is a bit smaller venue than the “Schott”, but very similar arena style seating. The day of the tournament, OAC uses the same number of mats (10) that is used at the High School Tournament and runs the brackets with the Bout numbers the same as well. Even the warm up area, referred to as the “bullpen” is set up the same. The organization really does a nice job of letting these grade school kids have the “feel” of what the State tournament will be like for them in High School.
A main difference in the process of getting to State in grade school involves one less qualifying tournament than what is used in High School, but that is really because there is a larger number of High School Athletes to start with. Starting in January, there are a select few district qualifying tournaments announced in the State. Each athlete enters the tournament in the division (age) and weight that is predetermined every year. For example, [my son] Landon wrestled there as a Division 1 (Six years old and under) at the 55 pound class. [My other son] Cameron wrestled there as a Division 3 (9 & 10 year olds) at the 60 pound class. Each Division and each class will advance the top four placers to the State tournament. Cameron earned 4th at Districts and Landon placed 6th, but that gave him the right to be a “State Alternate”.
There is a total of 8 Districts in the State and each will advance the top 4 placers to the State Tournament, making a 32 man bracket for each division and weight class. The State Tournament is over a 2 day period where all wrestlers weigh in and check in with the Referee the night before competition begins. This check in is what ensures that all participants are there, on weight, have their nails trimmed, hair cut and are free of any major skin issues. This process is actually what gave Landon the opportunity to wrestle. There were a few in his weight class that did not successfully check in and make all of the requirements and thus as a “State Alternate”, we got the call that he could wrestle. Amongst all divisions and ages, there are over 1,100 kids competing.
Both boys wrestled very well, but were just up against better wrestlers than they were. Since it is a double elimination tournament, they were both done before the second day of competition. We have a little bit of satisfaction knowing that Cameron’s two losses went on to earn 3rd and 7th place.