September 3, 2014

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Raider wrestlers Clemens and Showalter fulfilling their dream
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 9:44 AM

Submitted by Chad Showalter

From the moment the first head gear is strapped on and the feet are set on a green or red vertical line in the middle of a circle, every wrestler dreams of competing at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio at the state wrestling tournament. Two Wayne Trace wrestlers are about to have that dream become a reality as both have earned the "golden ticket" to wrestle in front of thousands at the Schott.

For both George Clemens IV and Tyler Showalter, this dream started years ago, and although their path to this point mirror each other in many ways; this year it was drastically different. Both wrestlers are a product of the Wayne Trace wrestling club starting at a very early age on the mat. George, the son of the head varsity coach, George Clemens III, was destined to wrestle and began at the age of 3. He had always wanted to follow in the path of his dad and older brother Kameran, a two time state qualifier for Wayne Trace.

Tyler grew up in a house that knew little about wrestling. Bringing a paper home in first grade, he had to talk his mother into allowing him to try wrestling in the balcony at Wayne Trace. Quickly, Sonya and Chad fell in love with the sport, as did Tyler. It allowed him to have an outlet and to be physical in a time that discourages young men from this. It was easy to see that this would also help him with his other beloved sport: football.

So began the careers of two young wrestlers. George and Tyler would become more adept at their wrestling skills and eventually travel all over the state, and multi state area, competing in wrestling tournaments together and with other kids from the club. Wayne Trace would be unheard of at most tournaments, but thanks to the tutelage of Coach Clemens and the efforts of not only these two, but several other wrestlers, wrestling circles would begin to know what Raider wrestlers were all about.

Clemens and Showalter would qualify and wrestle in many elementary state tournaments and place in some. Showalter would eventually win a NUWAY national champion wrestling title in sixth grade. They would set and break several club records and have a friendly competition with each other about records that continues to this day. Because of their dedication, work ethic, and success at a young age, several Raider club wrestlers have been inspired and set goals based on what these two accomplished at the club level and have begun to be even better than these two were.

They both continued their success in junior high and were pushed to be better in these years by coach Dennis Stabler. While in junior high, with the help of others from the club and the new found interest in wrestling at Wayne Trace, the program would see the most success it had ever seen. Garnering multiple tournament titles, and more importantly, back-to-back GMC titles, these two continued on a path of success.

Coming into the high school years, the paths of these two diverged somewhat. Clemens would focus solely on wrestling. He would wrestle all year long and attend multiple camps and clinics and the effort would pay off. He would finish his freshman season with a record of 46-3 earning multiple tournament titles, a GMC title, sectional title, and third place finish at districts. Qualifying for the state tournament as a freshman, Clemens would be the record setter at Wayne Trace.

Showalter would continue to wrestle, but would focus on his favorite sport, football. He would be successful in both sports earning a varsity letter in both his freshman year. He would post 27 wins as a freshman and follow that up with 37 wins as a sophomore. Unlike Clemens, he would fall short of qualifying for districts as a freshman, but would work in that off season to improve in wrestling. He would lose a heartbreaking match his sophomore year at districts in the "go to" match and would decide to refocus on football before his junior year. This paid off as everyone knows the amazing run the Raider football team had this season, playing in the state championship and earning a runner up title in Division VI.

The disparity between the accomplishment of these two this season is evident. Clemens would begin the year where he left off his freshman season. He would suffer an early season loss, but would continue to excel in the sport and be nothing short of dominating. He would easily win tournament after tournament and be the clear favorite in most. Consistently ranked in the top eight wrestlers in the state at 106, Clemens would be a household name in wrestling circles.

Clemens would pace the Raiders in nearly every single statistic this season. He would come into the end of the season like a steam roller, garnering titles at Van Buren and the LCC Thunderbird classic. Following those titles up with a GMC champion title and easily winning his second sectional title at LCC. Becoming a two time district qualifier as a sophomore, Clemens’s path for another chance at wrestling at the Schott was secured.

Showalter, on the other hand, would have a much different season than he anticipated. He had suffered a severe laceration in the state finals football game to his knee that had not completely healed from his car accident earlier in the year. He would miss the beginning of the season and make his debut in the LCC holiday tournament winning it. His season would be cut short as the very next weekend, wrestling in his first match at Delta, the knee would be lacerated again and require a surgeon to piece it back together. It was unclear if he would return to wrestling this season.

After consulting physicians, it was decided he would return to the mat at the GMC tournament and see how the knee felt. He was able to capture his first GMC title there and then looked forward to the sectionals at LCC. With minimal mat time and practice, Showalter entered the sectionals under the radar and at a lower weight than many had anticipated. He was able to capture his first-ever sectional title and his path to districts was set.

Clemens and Showalter would comprise a group of eight Raiders traveling to districts. Clemens toting a 42-2 record to Troy was discussed on many wrestling forums and remained highly ranked in the state. Showalter taking his 13-1 record was overlooked. He had been ranked earlier in the year, but obviously with the lack of wrestling, had dropped out of rankings and many thought would not return.

Clemens would not disappoint in Troy, and would again place third, clearly the second best wrestler at districts, but unfortunately had to face Hunter Bray, currently ranked #1, before the finals. Showalter would be more determined than ever, and surprise many has he earned his shot at the Schott. He would dominate this year in his "go to" match winning with a major decision and finished the day with a medical default for fourth place at Troy.

"I have a really good draw at state. I have a real shot at making it to the podium and placing this year, and that has been my goal all year. I put in the time and work in the off season and now I have an opportunity for that to pay off. I am really excited and can’t wait for it to get here," commented wrestler Clemens.

"I am really proud of George. He has put in so much time in this off season to become better, to be more physical. His goals have become higher, and my expectations have increased for him. He has felt some pressure this year, to know he should repeat his trip, and he has risen and accomplished that," commented Coach Clemens.

"I know what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the ‘go to’ match. I never want to feel that low and defeated again," commented Showalter. "That’s what you have worked for since first grade, that match, to say you made it to the Schott. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to wrestle again this year, but now I am a state qualifier. It is an amazing feeling and I can say that I have made it in two sports. I just want to thank all of the coaches and people that have supported me this year."

Coach Clemens, discussing Tyler, commented that "I am so proud and excited for him. To come into the season after an injury, and then to see him on the mat at Delta with his knee opened up, able to see his kneecap is something I will never forget. Then, to come back after that and put together a tournament run like he has is amazing.

"Only George and Tyler qualified from Paulding county, and only one other wrestler qualified from the GMC conference which makes me proud of the program we have built here. There are no easy matches in Columbus. Every wrestler there is the man to beat. We are talking about the best sixteen wrestlers the state has to offer. You can not make a mistake in a match or they will make you pay for it. You must wrestle flawlessly, and even then that might not be enough," stated Clemens. "I have watched these two wrestle countless matches through the years and will be very satisfied to watch their next match on the floor at the Schottenstein Center. They are both very deserving of this accomplishment."

Wrestling will begin at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27. All Raider wrestling fans, club members, parents, and county wrestling enthusiasts would like to congratulate these two on qualifying and good luck at the Schott.