It’s been a family affair for Beaver Local
CALCUTTA–Spend any time around the Beaver Local wrestling program and one of the main themes that keeps popping up is family.
“We preach a family type of atmosphere pretty heavily here,” Beaver Local coach Jordan Williams said. “That started long before I got here, it’s a part of our history and tradition. When you’re a part of the Beaver Local wrestling program, it’s more than just four years, it’s a lifetime. People from past years come back and support these kids. There’s a sense that we’re all working together to make this program the best it can be.”
While wrestling is often considered a mostly individual spot, the Beavers have embraced the team-centric attitude Williams spoke of.
Sunday, the program has a shot at its greatest collective accomplishment when the Beavers compete in the OHSAA State Dual Tournament at St. John Arena in Columbus. The third-seeded Beavers will get underway at 1:15 p.m. against sixth-seeded Hamilton Ross.
Beaver Local becomes the first team to represent Columbiana County in the state duals since the format was adopted in 2013.
“The state duals are just as important to us as the individual state tournament,” Beaver Local senior Beau Smith said. “We all know we aren’t going anywhere without our teammates. If everyone doesn’t push each other then we aren’t going to get any better.”
“We always have each other’s back, I’ve never been closer with another group of guys,” Beaver Local senior Jared Wright said. “When somebody does something great in a match, everyone else is over there congratulating them. Every time we wrestle, we lay it on the line not just for ourselves, but for the whole team.”
In addition to mainstays like Smith, Wright, Skyler Lasure and Cole McComas, the Beavers have been fueled this season by the infusion of a talented freshman class that includes Mark Emmerling (113 pounds), Logan Ours (120 pounds) and Brenden Severs (160 pounds). Ours is the second-ranked 120-pounder according to borofanohio.net, while Severs is ranked sixth at 160 pounds.
All three freshmen recorded pins in Beaver’s dominating win over Louisville in the regional final match last week.
“We knew that they were good and that they’d come in and perform,” Beaver Local senior Garrett Givens said. “They’re kids that don’t back down from anything. They’re great competitors, we knew that coming in.”
After not wrestling his junior year, Givens came back out this season and has been impressed with the competitive atmosphere in the wrestling room.
“It’s been amazing honestly,” Givens said. “It’s just a bunch of hard workers that all want the best for each other. Everybody wants to push each other to become better wrestlers.
With both Ours and two-time state runner-up McComas injured as various points this season, the Beavers have gotten a chance to showcase their resourcefulness, which Williams credits as a big reason for their success.
“This team has been very resilient all season, not matter what situation has been thrown at them,” Williams said. “We’ve had guys banged up here and there, both Logan and Cole were out for a bit. It takes a team effort to overcome that. Everyone from the varsity kids to the backups has stepped up and helped us find ways to win.”
Whether it’s been the regional duals or the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Championship Finals, the Beavers have wrestled their best when the pressure is the highest. For Williams, that goes back to his team’s willingness to pay the price required to be successful.
“These kids are invested in being the best,” Williams said. “They don’t just say they want to be champions, they go out and do the work and prepare the right way. When we’ve needed their best effort, they’ve stepped up and been ready to go. That’s what makes this team so special.”
The Beavers will have a challenging road ahead of them this weekend. Their potential second-round opponent is second-seeded Aurora, while top-seeded St. Paris Graham Local looms on the other side of the bracket. St. Paris Graham boasts one of the most storied programs in the state and has won the state dual title all six years of the tournament’s existence.
“Regardless of who we play, we feel we match up well, but we have to take it one match at a time,” Williams said. “Our kids have responded all year to tough competition, they’re excited to get after it.”
The Beavers have made high expectations a staple of their program and aren’t scared of the spotlight.
“Our expectation is a championship,” Smith said. “We’ve prepared hard, and I think we have the team to do it. I think all of our guys are going to go out and wrestle the hardest they have all year.”
“From the varsity program all the way down to the youth level, the goal is to win state championships,” Williams said. “This team has been working hard to achieve those goals and they’re looking forward to competing against the best.”
• Williams said the Beavers will have practice Saturday morning before leaving for Columbus around noon. He said they will probably take part in a team activity before settling into the hotel. Weigh-in is Sunday morning at 9 a.m., over three hours before the Beavers’ first match.
“We’ll probably put in a good workout after we’re done weighing in to try and get the nerves out and get loose. Then we’ll relax for a little bit, watch the other teams wrestle and get ready to go,” Williams said.
“It’s going to be a little different waking up on a Sunday and wrestling, but I think we’ll be fine with it,” Wright said.
• Hamilton Ross has five wrestlers ranked by borofanohio.net, led by second-ranked heavyweight Alex Coleman. Ross captured the Region 15 title with a 52-23 win over Monroe.
“We saw some of their guys up at Brecksville,” Williams said. “They made the state tournament for a reason. They are a tough team that is going to pose some challenges.”
Div. II State Dual
No. 1 St. Paris Graham Local vs. No. 8 London, 11:15 a.m.
No. 4 Indian Valley vs. No. 5 Sandusky Perkins, 11:15 a.m.
No. 3 Beaver Local vs. No. 6 Hamilton Ross, 1:15 p.m.
No. 2 Aurora vs. No. 7 West Holmes, 1:15 p.m.