COLUMBUS — For most of the wrestling season Ty Stevenson was a spectator and the idea of fulfilling his dream of qualifying for and placing at state seemed like it would have to wait another year.
The Preble Shawnee junior suffered an injury during football season and missed a majority of the wrestling season as a result.
After he was cleared by doctors in early February he had to win a wrestle-off against a teammate just to be able to compete at the league tournament and another one to be the Arrows entrant at the sectional.
But getting to state was not a sure thing.
“I thought I would be lucky to come back to wrestle,” he said. “I thought I might get to districts, maybe place and be an alternate.”
He did a whole lot more.
He won a sectional championship at 285-pounds then finished third at districts to fulfill the first part of his dream.
He accomplished the second part this past weekend at the 82nd Annual Ohio State Individual Tournament at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, by going 3-2 and placing seventh in the Division III portion of the tournament.
“It was exciting. Nerve wracking,” he said moments before stepping on the podium to receive his medal and becoming just the eighth placer in school history. “Probably the biggest thing that’s happened to me so far.”
Stevenson, who entered the tournament with an 11-2 record, began his quest with an upset of Genoa Area’s Noah Koch by pin in 3 minutes, 26 seconds, on Thursday. Koch placed third last year.
In his quarterfinal match on Friday, he lost to eventual state runner-up Donovan McCollister of Nelsonville-York. He returned Friday afternoon and pinned Ryan Elrod of Ashtabula St. John in 2:55 to secure a spot on the podium.
“That’s when I realized I can do it,” he said. “I can beat anyone if I put my head to it.”
Later that evening, he suffered a 3-2 setback to Kain Brossia of Bloomdale Elmwood.
On Saturday, Stevenson pinned Liam Kirkpatrick of Newark Catholic in 35 seconds to earn seventh place.
Stevenson said placing was nice, but that’s not his ultimate goal.
“It makes me want to get better and get to the top of the podium next year,” he said. “It’s exciting, but I want to be the second state champ. That’s the biggest goal.”
Preble Shawnee’s only state champion is current assistant coach Brian Carter, who went undefeated to win it all in 1986.
“With him having surgery in November, coming back (with limited practice), it’s impressive,” Carter said. “He’s been around the sport for a long time so he knows what’s going on. I feel like we got blood from a turnip. We got everything we could out of him, I think. He’s got a year to grow and a year to get stronger and it’s up to him on how hard he wants to push himself.”
Carter said he hopes Stevenson’s performance will be the first of many state placers.
“We want to build a tradition at Shawnee that that’s what we expect,” he said. “We expect people to get on the podium. It started a few years ago and hopefully we can keep it rolling. We’ve got a great junior high coming up if everybody sticks with it and we’ve got everybody returning but one. We have a shot to be good.”
And Stevenson has the ability to lead the way.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH