CUYAHOGA FALLS — Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Jordan Decatur walked out of the 25th annual Ironman with a couple of sprained ankles.
His brother Jacob Decatur left with an iced wing and cuts on his face, while Brecksville’s Ethan Hatcher (195) will have to pay special attention to some sprained fingers and bum shoulder.
Small mementos from placing at a big tournament and well worth every bump, scrape and bruise along the way at the best invitational in the nation.
A tournament so tough that not a single wrestler from the tradition-rich area came away with a title, just finding your way onto the podium means something.
“It’s a meat-grinder,” Jordan Decatur said. “Every single match past the quarters you’re wrestling someone ranked in the country. It’s always someone good. They’re a multiple-time state champ. You’re wrestling the best of the best here. It’s every single weight. I’m dinged up. I’m sure everyone else is too, but there’s no excuses.”
Jordan Decatur (3rd, 132), joined Wadsworth’s Michael North (5th, 145), Hatcher (5th, 195), Jacob Decatur (6th, 113), and Perry’s Max Millin (6th, 285) and Jarin Curtis (8th, 220) as the only area wrestlers to place in the 520-person field.
Was it worth it?
“It just feels good getting your hand raised after every match,” Hatcher said. “There’s probably no better feeling than that.”
After a huge summer of freestyle, Hatcher came into Walsh Jesuit High School and beat Cadet two-style finalist Kolby Franklin of St. Joseph’s Catholic (Pa.) 6-3 in the consolation quarterfinal and then knocked out national prep runner-up Mike Doggett of Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) for fifth.
As strong as Hatcher’s tournament was, what Jordan Decatur did in finishing third was nothing short of incredible.
A three-time national champion and two-time state champ, the Ironman will remain the only tournament on his list of high school tournaments that he never won.
In adding his third-place finish to two fourth-place showings (2015, 2017) and a fifth-place finish (2016) he became only the second four-time Ironman placer for the Royals.
The other name might ring a bell.
It’s four-time state champion, four-time NCAA All-American and former Ohio State champion Nathan Tomasello, who won Ironman three times to go with a 2009 fourth-place finish.
“It’s exclusive, so that’s pretty cool,” Jordan Decatur said. “It’s bittersweet. I don’t have a title, but I can say that I’ve placed four times. It’s an achievement that I’ve wanted since I’ve come to Ironman. It’s cool to finally mark that off the list.
“It’s crazy. I never ever pictured this. After watching all the guys that have wrestled at CVCA, it’s amazing. I’ve watched some of the greatest kids here. It’s cool that my name is mentioned in that conversation now as one of the best CVCA wrestlers ever.”
Jacob Decatur didn’t repeat as an Ironman champion like he did a season ago, but that didn’t mean the Ohio State recruit didn’t battle.
The senior wrestled in three overtime matches and won all three to exit the tournament 5-2. He’ll leave CVCA a three-time Ironman placer and join such big names for the Royals as Harry Lester, John Weakley and Alex Utley.
“This thing is a grind, especially with the quarterfinals on the first day,” Jacob Decatur said. “That was rough on my body, but the best wrestlers pull through.
“I probably didn’t feel as good about placing three times if I didn’t win last year, but to do it and do it with Jordan, who is a four-time placer, it’s pretty awesome.”