ELIDA — For four guys that have been wrestling together since they can remember, the end of this month could materialize a goal they have been striving toward for years.
A run to the state wrestling tournament.
John “JT” Martin, Alec “AJ” Brown, Holden Hengstler and Nate Valentine are all spent their senior seasons impressing their coach with their efforts and were all named individual Western Buckeye League Champions at their weight class.
But all of them said the same thing when asked about it.
“That’s not the goal.”
Martin has been to the State Tournament each year at the 106-pound weight class, and has made it a goal to bring the rest of his fellow seniors.
“Of course the goal is State,” Martin said. “I really believe we can all four place at state. This is just one step building up to that.”
Valentine said all four of these guys grew up as each others’ drill partners. Valentine and Martin used to wrestle in practice, while Hengstler and Brown used to wrestle.
They all compete in different weight classes now, and it might not be as fair as a fight as it used to be.
“We’ve got a real a real big bond,” Valentine said. “We all used to be each other’s drill partners, JT used to be my drill partner, but he wrestles at 106, and I’m at 145.”
Hengstler said getting to State, as the four of them, is really something they have worked toward their entire career.
“We know everything about each other, we know how we all wrestle,” Hengstler said. “For all of us to make it down as a group it would be an awesome achievement and feeling to make it down with all of those guys.”
Varsity head coach Jason Rostorfer didn’t know what kind of competition they will see in the district tournament, but each of these four guys has worked hard enough to earn a spot to the State Tournament.
“I’d like to think with the schedule we’ve had these guys are as prepared for state as they can be,” Rostorfer said. “As hard as they work in practice, if something doesn’t work out, it’s not for lack of effort.”
Brown also reflected on their earlier days when they used to wrestle each other, now the dream is to wrestle Ohio’s best.
“We’ve all grown up with each other wrestling, we’ve all pushed each other, but the end goal for us is we all want to be state champions,” Brown said. “Our goal is that we are going to work as hard as we can.”
Brown said the other three seniors need to join Martin in Columbus this year, for the State Tournament.
“JT has made it every year so far, and we need to be there with him,” Brown said. “We need to show we can compete at that level.”
While all four of these guys were names WBL champions this year, they are undefeated in dual matches in their career, together they have amassed well over 400 victories and their team has won the WBL every year they have been here, that doesn’t seem to be enough.
“This is nothing compared to what we want,” Hengstler said. “It’s a hell of a group. We’ve all had our ups and downs. I’m proud to be with these guys.”