|Clemens, Showalter finish on the floor of the Schott|
COLUMBUS – As you near the end of the black tunnel, it takes some time for your eyes to adjust. Adorning the walls of this tunnel are a Who’s Who of Ohio high school wrestling history, of three- and four-time state champions. Only state qualifiers and their coaches have the privilege to come through this tunnel and when their eyes adjust to the bright lights and the center scoreboard of the Schottenstein Center, they typically stand in awe of the thousands of fans adorning the seats.
Only two Paulding County wrestlers, Wayne Trace’s George Clemens IV and Tyler Showalter, accompanied by coaches George Clemens and Dennis Stabler, were able to make the trip down the tunnel this year.
It was a storied season for the 106-pound sophomore Clemens this year, only suffering two losses on the season before entering the state tournament.
For the 145-pound junior Showalter, it was a magical year, returning from injury and only wrestling 17 full matches before entering the tunnel.
This stage is not new to Clemens, as he qualified last year as a freshman and becomes the third Raider to qualify for multiple state tournaments. Following in the footsteps of his dad (one-time state qualifier), his uncle (three-time state qualifier) and his older brother (two-time state qualifier), Clemens would come out with high expectations of being the first Clemens to stand on the podium at the Schott. Clemens would wrestle a brilliant first match, capturing a first round win over Kaden Moore of Willard via tech fall. Clemens would make it to day two of the state finals.
Unlike Clemens, this would be Showalter’s first time to step on the floor of the Schott. With no wrestling history in the family and next to no mat time this year, Showalter would be considered lucky just to be here. He would step on the mat and face eventual sixth place finisher Devon Taylor. Showalter would be leading in this match before making a subtle mistake that would cost him the match.
He would return to the mat in the consi round and wrestle against David Monturi of Wickliffe. Showalter would fall short in this match, as well, losing 11-6.
A deflated Showalter sat in the hallway being consoled by his coaches after the second loss of the day.
“I told him that this was icing on the cake. He wasn’t suppose to be able to return, but he did. Shouldn’t have been able to qualify, but he did. Put together two fairly solid matches against the best the state had to offer and had nothing to hang his head about,” commented Coach Clemens.
“I would imagine that there would be many wrestlers that would trade places with you, even if they knew they were going to lose two matches, just to say they had made their dream of wrestling here a reality,” finished Clemens.
Always the competitor, Showalter started off, “It’s frustrating. I am so thankful to be here, to accomplish this, but I just wish I had more time to prepare. I missed a lot of the season and my cardio isn’t where it should be. I usually can push a match, but I just couldn’t today. I thought I wrestled well, just made a mistake that cost me.”
Clemens would return on Friday to face eventual state champion Sebastian Vidika of Sullivan Black River. Clemens would push the state champ in the match, but would be unable to capture a win and would drop the match by a score of 10-4.
He would then face Greg Quinn of Shadyside. This would be the pivotal match. With a win, he would do what no other Clemens had done, and with a loss, he would be out. Clemens would lead early on, but Quinn would find himself up 6-4 with little to go in the third. Clemens would muster a take down and push the match into overtime.
Both wrestlers would be unable to capture a take down in overtime and the match would go on to a second overtime. Quinn would be able to score in his 30 seconds and Clemens would not, dropping the match in double overtime.
“I thought I wrestled well, just couldn’t finish on my shots against Quinn. I probably shouldn’t have chose top against Vidika, but I thought I could turn him. You have to be perfect down here, and I wasn’t today. This is just going to push me in the offseason,” commented Clemens.
“We really thought we had a shot at the podium this year. George has put in so much work in the off season, but everyone is so fundamentally sound down here. It’s not always the best wrestler who wins, but the one that doesn’t make a mistake. George did a great job of pushing the match into overtime, but just fell a little short today,” commented Coach Clemens.
“Overall, I am very proud of how both of the boys wrestled down here. We have been able to send wrestlers to state for four years in a row now, and it is just a matter of time before we get the next one on the podium.
“I really believe that with some work in the offseason, both of these guys can be on that podium next year. We are going to take a few weeks off, then we will begin working for the loftiest of goals, to be standing on the podium on Saturday at the Schottenstein Center,” stated Coach Clemens.
For wrestling enthusiasts, five Raider wrestlers have been chosen to wrestle in an all-star wresting meet against the WBL at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 5 at Delphos Jefferson High School. Both Clemens and Showalter were chosen, along with district qualifiers Dustin Taylor, Ruger Goeltzenleuchter and Jacob Dingus. It will be one last chance this season to see the area’s best on the mats.
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