Brunswick’s Matt Fields, Cloverleaf’s Caleb Cass, Medina’s Brady Chrisman and Wadsworth’s Joey Baughman and Jordan Earnest measure their prides in sweat.
The success not only comes in the medals draped around their necks but on the college T-shirts they wear around town.
Fields (132 pounds) will wrestle for North Carolina State next fall, while Cass (160) is off to Cleveland State and Chrisman (170) to Kent State. Baughman (182) will head to Virginia and Earnest (285) will travel down Interstate 71 to Ohio University.
They all picked up Division I college scholarships by sticking to one ideology: Whenever they felt like they wanted to take a day off, they looked to others and found purpose.
“I grew up with those guys,” Chrisman said. “Caleb and I wrestled on the same youth team forever. Just seeing how good they’re doing, it lets me see where I’m at and how much harder I need to work.”
Therein might be the biggest recipe for success. While none of the five lack accolades, the determination to keep up with the Joneses pushes the envelope.
Fields comes back to the Blue Devils after two years at Walsh Jesuit with two state finals appearances, including a title. Baughman has finished runner-up two years in a row and is a three-time state placer. Earnest finished fourth last season, while Chrisman was fifth and Cass sixth.
“I’m a very competitive person, so I want to be the best,” Fields said. “Seeing friends like that do well, it’s like, ‘I’m right there with them. I can be like them.’ It motivates you to be just as good as them.”
Attitude like that has pushed Medina County wrestlers for decades.
While the area is made up of only seven schools, it continually produces top-flight athletes that succeed on a regular basis.
The county has produced a state finalist every year since 1991 and double-digit state placers five times in the last nine seasons.
“All of the schools train together around here,” Baughman said. “There’s that competitive spirit between schools, and that raises the level for all of us.”
It didn’t just happen overnight for the five, either, as they’ve spent years butting heads at the youth and middle school levels.
While Chrisman and Cass competed on the same teams, the standouts also squared off in the summertime at the state and national levels.
Whether it’s a trip Fargo, S.D., to wrestle for Team Ohio at Nationals, an excursion to the Disney Duals in Orlando or heading to High School Nationals at Virginia Beach, the constant yearning to get better has vaulted each one to be the absolute best at his craft.
“It pushes me because I want to be better than them,” Cass said. “Having people like them lets you mark yourself to see where you’re going and see how you’re doing based on how they’re doing.
“Everybody works hard. Everyone pushes each other. They’re not like, ‘Oh, I won’t wrestle you because you’re in our area.’ Everybody trains to get better and better.”
That brotherhood is the force that makes each one of them great.
While the end product is an individual reward, the satisfaction in seeing each other succeed means almost as much.
“You see people you wrestle down at state,” Earnest said. “You see them all doing well and standing on the podium at the end. I want to see them do as well as myself. We’re all part of the same county. We all want to see each other go farther.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.