PERRYSBURG: Ronnie Rowan is a history buff who doesn’t need to be reminded of the lineage of Firestone wrestling since the turn of the century.
A sophomore for the Falcons, the fourth-ranked wrestler in the state knows that since 2000 only Javohn Fair (2015) and Jermail Porter (2004) have made it to state.
Fair missed placing by a match at Value City Arena. Porter was a state runner-up.
That’s what makes Rowan’s Perrysburg Division I District semifinal appearance Saturday so special.
Win just once, and the 120-pounder becomes the first nonheavyweight to reach state in 16-plus years for Firestone.
“It would mean a lot to get there,” Rowan said. “Not just for the school, but for myself. It’s one of my top goals for right now.
“I’m not surprised I’m here. I know I’ve been busting my butt. Other people might be surprised, but I know I’ve been putting in the work to get here.”
Rowan beat Lakewood St. Edward’s Josh Leidich in the first round on Friday and then knocked off Toledo Waite sectional champion Lamonte Chapman of Fremont Ross to reach the semifinals.
Not bad for Rowan’s first time wrestling at the district level, although that’s been the push for the sophomore all year.
A two-time Wadsworth sectional runner-up, Rowan was all set to wrestle in the district tournament last season, but got sick and missed the tournament.
While most would use that experience as motivation, Rowan has moved on and is looking to make some history of his own.
“It pushed me a little bit, but I don’t let it bother me,” he said. “Stuff like that, if it sticks in your head, it will be a weight on your shoulder. I try to bury it deep and forget about it this season.”
It’s been a season of momentum, as Rowan became the first Firestone champion at the Bill Dies Memorial Wrestling Tournament in January. Since then, he’s done nothing but pile one win on top of the other in an effort to carve his own niche with the Falcons.
“It would mean a lot,” Firestone coach Dan Sandy said. “It’s just different being at a lighter weight. Not to take anything at all away from [Fair and Porter], especially because he’s a sophomore. He uses wrestling as a crutch to get through a lot of things he goes through. We knew he was close. We didn’t want to count our eggs before they hatched, but me and him knew he could do it.”
The semifinal Saturday, which begins at approximately 1 p.m., brings an entirely different challenge in Oregon Clay’s Nick Henneman.
Henneman is ranked second in the state and placed sixth last year.
Not that it means much to Rowan, who appears ready to etch his name among the best.
“I just need to do what I’ve been doing,” Rowan said. “I’m trying to wrestle my match and not his. Just because he’s predicted to finish second at state doesn’t mean I’m not going to wrestle the way I like to. I’m going to go out there and do what I need to do. There’s a little pressure, but not that much. The biggest pressure on me is the pressure I put on myself.”