WESTFIELD TWP. — As a vital member of the Cloverleaf wrestling team, Caleb Cass has turned the Colts into a perennial Portage Trail Conference contender.
When it was time to look at continuing his athletic and academic careers, the senior wasn’t going to shy away from doing the same thing at the Division I college level.
Cleveland State, Buffalo, Ashland, Gannon and Mount Union called, but the 160-pound senior saw a fit with the Vikings.
A program almost wiped out by budget cuts, Cleveland State is looking to again come to power. That caught Cass’ eye.
“It’s a huge factor because going through high school, it’s fun to be a part of a program that not many would pick to do much in the beginning but is on the rise,” Cass said. “Seeing the people that Cleveland State is getting and who’s on their team now, this team is going to be very, very good and I’m going to be a part of that. It’s exciting.”
In his 10th season as head coach, Ben Stehura has mentored five Eastern Wrestling League champions and 10 NCAA qualifiers.
Included are three qualifiers in the last two seasons, including former Copley standout Sam Wheeler, who came one round short of All-American status two seasons ago.
Also helping 15 athletes qualify for the Olympic and World Team trials, Stehura has guided Cleveland state to two EWL runner-up finishes in the last four seasons.
“It was just the right fit,” Cass said. “It’s close to home, but far enough away from home that I know I have to live there. The program is good all the way around. I clicked with coaches and some of the wrestlers. I like it a lot. It’s the right decision.”
A 3.8 student who plans on going into secondary education biology, Cass has been just as successful on the mat.
The All-Gazette selection finished sixth in the D-II state tournament last season and ranked fourth in Medina County with 43 victories. He also was among leaders in winning percentage (.796), takedowns (70), combined near falls (70) and pins (22). Cass has a career 109-37 record.
He’ll wrestle at 157 or 165 and fight Brady Barnett, Jake Henderson, Ryan Montgomery, Nico O’Dor, Georgio Poullas, Grant Turnmire and John Vaughn for time.
“My goal is going to be to outwork everybody in the room,” Cass said. “It’s exciting because I haven’t had to wrestle anybody off since like seventh grade or something ridiculous. I’ve never really gotten the chance to compete for a varsity spot. I’m really excited to go in there and even if I don’t get the varsity spot, I know the level that I push myself and work to get better, it’ll make whoever is ahead of me better.
“I’m a hard worker with a lot of potential. I care a lot about school and wrestling. I’m dedicated and I like to put in the extra time.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.