MARENGO, Ohio— The end results were not what Owen Hewitt had envisioned.
Hewitt entered the 84th annual state wrestling tournament looking to finish with a spot on the podium as one of the state’s top eight wrestlers.
Instead, the senior from Eaton capped off his high school wrestling career with a pair of losses in the Division II tournament held at Highland High School in Marengo.
Despite the losses, Hewitt accomplished his goal of qualifying for state and still ranked among the top 16 in the state at 145 pounds and continued a tradition for Eaton grapplers to qualify for state.
“It’s pretty cool. I worked all season for it, not just this year, but the past four. I finally got where I wanted to be,” he said. “The weekend didn’t go how I wanted it to, but I worked as hard as I could in the matches.”
Hewitt, who finished the season 28-7, opened the tournament with a 2-0 loss to Jaden Farris of Chardon. Ferris scored a reversal with 50 seconds remaining the match to earn the win.
In his consolation match, Hewitt got caught in a 5-point move late in the second period and had to battle back against Emery Pahl of Upper Sandusky before falling 8-3.
“Understand, it’s the state tournament,” Eaton coach Nathan Islamovsky said. “We work all season to to get kids ready for this and Owen showed he had the ability. He was ready to go. He came up short in his first match and then got caught with [a] five-point move in the second one.”
Islamovsky said Hewitt is deserving of being one of the top wrestlers in the state.
“He fought. And the big thing I told him is he proved he belonged here. How many kids don’t make it out of the district, and we’re here wrestling with the top 16 wrestlers in the state. It’s an unbelievably difficult tournament,” he said.
With the trip to state, Hewitt got to add his name to a prestigious list of state qualifiers on the wall of the Eaton wrestling room.
“It felt like a lot hard work paying off,” he said. “It was pretty cool to put my name up with [Coach Mark] Silver’s and all my other coaches. All those other kids, or teammates that were just that good. It’s just cool to be up there with them.”
Hewitt also noted he wouldn’t have had the success he did without his teammates.
“This is one of the hardest working teams I’ve been a part of my,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to wrestle how I was if it weren’t for them.”
Islamovsky said Hewitt became the ultimate team leader this season.
“He’s done a great job to put himself in a position to be here and to compete, and he’s done everything right along the way. I couldn’t speak enough to how hard he’s worked, and just been really disciplined and did everything right,” he said. “Halfway through the season, I brought him into middle school practices to start showing moves. Obviously, he’s an extremely smart kid, and that helps him a lot. And he has a lot of fun just winning. He loves to compete. And that’s the big thing from an early age – you knew Owen wanted to compete in everything he does. He just became kind of a team leader this year and kids looked up to him. He set a great example for this young group that I’ve got coming up.”
Hewitt, a four-time district qualifier, finished his career with 94 wins, while earning Academic All-State this season.
“He accomplished his goal to make it to state,” Islamovsky said. “You refocus your goals and all week he worked his butt off to just refocus himself and get ready to go.
“I feel like he was there, it’s just things came up short. The big thing about Owen is he’s not your typical wrestling kid. He’s got a lot of other things that he’s very good at, but he really found himself in this sport, and it speaks to him as just a tough, hard working kid who just enjoyed the grind of it all.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 or follow on Twitter @emowenjr