Four Devils take home state hardware
How did it feel to be part of the show? Freshman Mason Ewing walked onto the mat Thursday for the first round feeling a bit nervous. With all eyes on Ewing, who went 25-8 during the regular season, the newcomer won his first state match 8-4.
“I was pretty nervous when I came out there,” Ewing said. “I got a little bit more relaxed as the match started.”
The win was a good sign for the Devils, who sent seven to state last year and came home with one sixth-place trophy. Soon after, junior Tim Reitz (140) and freshman Chris Harvey (145) pinned their opponents to advance. As the big men lumbered onto the mat, 215-pound senior Jeff Bair won a solid decision.
“He wasn’t very hard,” said Bair, who competed in his third state tournament. “I had more endurance than he did. He kept getting tired. I thought I had him pinned, but the ref didn’t see it.”
Friday, the foursome wrestled two matches. While Harvey lost to the eventual state champ, and Ewing dropped a close decision, Bair and Reitz both picked up crucial second-round wins. Friday evening, Reitz would become the lone Devil in the semifinals, after taking a 9-2 decision.
“I was starting to focus on the semis in the middle of the match,” Reitz said. “(In the semifinals), I just didn’t wrestle very well. I didn’t wrestle the best I could. I could have won. I could have beat that guys.”
So Reitz joined Bair, Ewing and Harvey in the consolation brackets. While Reitz was winning, Ewing, Bair and Harvey were slugging their way through in hopes of sneaking back into the consolation semifinal match, where every wrestler is guaranteed state hardware.
After a night of shedding pounds in the sauna, the wrestlers weighed in early Saturday morning. Ewing took to the mat first, pinning his man in the second period. Harvey, despite being dehydrated, won a decision. The duo would wrestle again 45 minutes later – such is life in consolation-land –but lose and drop into the fifth-sixth place match, where, again, their success would run out.
“I liked how I wrestled,” said Harvey, who finished sixth. “I’ve watched the tapes and I felt good. I could have beat any of those guys. But I lost on paper.”
Ewing also finished sixth, but said his performance surpassed all expectations.
“I didn’t even think I’d place at state,” he said. “Now that I know I can, it makes me want to do a lot better at state next year.”
Reitz and Bair both leaped into the consolation finals with another set of wins, but ran out of luck in their last matches of the high school season. Bair said he was still satisfied after setting a personal best. The highlight, he said, was watching the pair of freshman succeed.
Reitz said he plans on using the losses as motivation.
“It kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth for next year,” he said. “My goal at the beginning of the year was to place at state, but when you’re there, you don’t want to lose.”
All four talked about the lessons they learned at state. While Bair will be graduating in the spring, Ewing and Harvey will be looking towards junior national and world competitions in March.
Reitz, meanwhile, will enter next year as one of the favorites in his class. He has plenty of experience to share with the rest of his team, too.
“(Wrestling at state) is a mentality,” he said. “It’s mental. Everybody who’s wrestling there knows moves. Most of them have shape. It’s up to you, if you want it bad enough.”
Ryan Slabaugh can be contacted at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.