COLUMBUS — Camron Neal became only the second wrestler in Preble Shawnee history to place twice at the state tournament with his fifth place finish at the 80th Annual Ohio High School Athletic Association State Individual Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, March 11.
Neal, a senior, ended his season with a 7-3 win over Zach Larue of Akron Manchester to finish the season with a 43-7 record.
“You definitely want to end with a win. Especially, with him being a senior. You want to go out on top. You want to go out on a win no matter what it is,” Preble Shawnee coach Jake Follick said. “We did that last year with seventh. We had a tougher tournament this time. I thought we wrestled a lot better. We had two matches where we didn’t and those are the two matches we lost. But to be able to end on a win is always a good note here.”
Neal’s fifth place finish is the highest for a Preble Shawnee wrestler since Travis Gregg placed sixth in 1996. The only other two-time placer is current Preble Shawnee assistant coach Brian Carter, who was a state champion in 1986 and runner-up in 1985.
Neal, who placed seventh a year ago, went 4-2 during the three-day tournament, which was held Thursday-Saturday, March 9-11, at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
Follick said Neal will leave as Shawnee’s all-time leader in career-wins with 136.
“He’s done the majority of that work his junior and senior year,” Follick said. “That’s an impressive feat by any means.”
Neal’s only losses at the tournament were to eventual state champion Dylan D’Emilio of Genoa Area in the second round and third place finisher Jacob Edwards of Troy Christian in the consolation semifinals.
Neal dominated his opening match with Austin Guthrie of Coshocton, winning 12-5, at 113 pounds in Division III on Thursday, before losing by pin to D’Emilio on Friday morning.
In his second match on Friday, Neal scored a 13-3 major decision over David Staten of West Jefferson to secure a spot on the podium for the second straight year.
He beat Klay Reeves of Johnstown Northridge 7-2, before falling to Edwards.
In his fifth place match, he closed out the tournament with a win over Larue, the Garfield Heights District champion.
“We dominated that last match. That’s what we wanted to do, is go out there and show what he can really do,” Follick said.
Follick said he is proud of the growth Neal has shown during his three years with the program
“I’m just super proud of him. I still think he’s go a lot of raw potential. I think his best days are still yet to come,” Follick said. “I think he’s got a big, bright future.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH