FARGO, N.D. — Times have certainly changed for Bradley Staron.
A wrestler who didn’t win a match as an eighth grader, the Highland junior has turned himself into a solid athlete through grit, determination and unwavering passion.
While Staron (138 pounds) won’t be coming home from Fargo, N.D., with All-American status at the Cadet Greco-Roman Nationals, he took yet another step toward tapping into some promising potential.
“I see myself as a canvas and all these great coaches and all these great people that I have surrounding me in Ohio have really built me up,” Staron said. “I’m thankful to Coach (Alan) Fried and all the people that I have. I see phenomenal improvement. I can’t say enough. It’s like taking a cub to a momma bear. I’ve just skyrocketed.”
While the bracketing gods weren’t nice to the Hornets district qualifier, Staron goes home with a win at the national level.
His morning in the 128-man bracket on Wednesday started with a match against Minnesota state placer Tyler Shackle. Staron greeted Shackle with a hip toss to go up by four, but gave up two four-point moves and lost by technical fall 14-4.
That experience helped in Staron’s next match as he put together two slick four-point moves against Arizona’s Braxton Luke and ended things with a 10-0 technical fall in a match that lasted 100 seconds.
That brought Oregon state runner-up Travis Thorpe in the consolation round of 32. Thorpe caught Staron and pinned him in 45 seconds.
“Just even getting here, I’m so much more confident,” Staron said. “This is a national tournament. I’m thankful for everything. Just competing here, my parents and all the people that donated to me, all the practices, to even win a match at the tournament is just, ‘Wow!’ The experience is just amazing.”
What Staron learned most this summer was the importance of not only extra wrestling, but extra wrestling styles.
A first-time Greco-Roman competitor, he reached the state tournament before losing to Coventry’s Miles Knuckles in the finals.
The next step was a camp at Ohio Northern where the best of the best coaches taught him tricks of the trade and helped him with technique.
It’s now up to Staron to take all the styles he’s learned and morph them into what could be a great season at Highland.
“Greco, along with freestyle and folkstyle, are like pieces to the whole pie,” Staron said. “Little bits of the pie are good, but all together, Greco and freestyle help out folkstyle so much.
“I’m so ready for this upcoming season. I’m expecting at least getting to state after reaching district last year.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.