FARGO, N.D. — Wadsworth senior Jordan Earnest and Highland junior Bradley Staron are headed to the Peace Garden State to see if they can cause a little havoc.
Both first-time competitors at the Freestyle and Greco-Roman Nationals in Fargo, N.D., the two want to see how well they can do on a national level.
Earnest, a placer at the state high school tournament and Walsh Ironman, wants to see what he can accomplish in Junior Freestyle at 285 pounds and will wrestle in the FargoDome on Sunday with hopes of reaching the All-American rounds Tuesday.
“I think it is going to prove a lot to me about how I can compete nationally,” Earnest said. “It’s no longer focusing on Ohio, but seeing how far I can reach out. What I want to accomplish is to place and place high.
“I believe I belong on the national stage. I could see why some might think placing at the Ironman was a one-time thing, but then I placed at state and then went on and won at Fila Nationals. If I place, it shows I’m not going to roll over easy.”
While the state tournament in March can eat up many with 10 mats in Columbus, Fargo is a different animal with 23.
Earnest, who won the UWW Nationals in June, feels like he belongs and is ready for the next step.
“It’s going to be a lot bigger than state,” Earnest said. “But thinking about state and how big that was, this will show just how big it was. At Columbus, I was thinking about how small I felt and that was only 10 mats. Here, there’s close to 30.
“I’ll handle it the same as every match. I won’t get intimidated. I’m going out there thinking I don’t have anything to lose. It doesn’t hurt if I lose. There’s always next year. But if I win, I know I beat a very good kid.”
That’s how Staron (138) sees his opportunity as well.
A district qualifier in the winter, he earned his way to Fargo by finishing runner-up at the Cadet Greco-Roman state tournament, which is why he doesn’t expect nerves to get the better of him.
“It’s all the practices and everything the coaches prepare you for,” Staron said. “I’ve even looked up the FargoDome. The thing that prepared me most was all the qualifying tournaments. There was this one at Kalamazoo in Michigan that was huge. Seeing all the skilled wrestlers, it’s just a bigger scale.”
Staron’s goal is much like Earnest’s, as he has already seen drastic improvements. He’ll begin his tournament Wednesday with the hopes of reaching the All-American rounds Friday.
“Just staying with it and keeping up with the sport, I see improvement so much,” Staron said. “It’s a new experience to me. I’m going to do the best I can. I’m looking to kick some butt at this tournament. I want definitely nothing less than the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. I want to make it to the last day of this tournament.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.