FARGO, N.D. — Wrestlers are a quick study, especially when it comes to success.
Over the last four years, the area has produced national champions in CVCA’s Jordan Decatur (2018, 2016, 2015) and Massillon Perry’s David Carr (2017) at the 16U (formerly Cadet) and Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D.
Classes at Ohio State kept Decatur in Columbus this summer. Carr is a redshirt freshman at Iowa State.
Add to that the scads of All-Americans the region has had, and this summer’s national team from Ohio is a who’s who from the region.
Action begins Saturday with the 16U tournament and by the time it’s over on Friday, 37 area wrestlers will have faced the best of the best in the United States.
“It’s a tremendous place,” Nordonia graduate Jaivon Jones said. “It’s almost like a mini world tournament. The preparation you put into it and how well you train up to that point, regardless of what happens, it makes you a better person and wrestler. I went 2-2 in freestyle last year, but I made a huge jump mentally.
“In Greco-Roman once I didn’t do as well as I wanted in freestyle. I tried to rebound and fix the things I did wrong in my matches. I made a point to stay locked in and give my best effort. I made it to the blood round [round to place] and lost, but I wasn’t upset. I gave it my best effort.”
That effort transferred over to his high school season, during which Jones went into the state tournament undefeated before finishing sixth. He's is back in Fargo and will wrestle both styles once again before heading off to Northern Illinois to compete for the Huskies in the winter.
He’ll also go knowing his trips to North Dakota over the years made him even better than he thought he could be.
That feeling isn’t just limited to Jones, however. Last season, Copley’s Marlon Yarbrough (100) came to Fargo and came home with All-America status after finishing fifth in Cadet freestyle.
Yarbrough’s back again in both styles and knows just what it means to place among the elite.
“Just knowing that I wrestled everybody tough means something,” Yarbrough said. “I know that’s how college is going to be. Every match in college is going to be a state placer or Fargo All-American so it sets you apart. I know I’ll have that mindset to be the best when I get to college.”
Brecksville coach Todd Haverdill knows something about national champions with Austin Assad (twice), Jeremy Johnson and Julian Tagg all winning crowns in Fargo.
The Bees are well represented again as 2018 state champion Vic Voinovich is back to try to earn All-America status once again, and he's joined by teammate Ethan Hatcher, who finished fifth last season.
They won’t be alone with seven wrestlers from the school in Fargo looking for crowns. That won’t just help the Bees as individuals, but as a team as well.
“I think at the end of the day, what Fargo represents is the biggest high school tournament in the world,” Haverdill said. “The best kids go to Fargo. You train to improve and then you face the best kids. It’s good for everybody.
“Seven is a good number for us. For the young guys, they’ll find out quickly where they stand before they enter high school. It’s hard to explain. We’ve had kids go 0-2 or 1-2 and come back exponentially better. I think the whole process of going to camp, staying overnight and wrestling multiple sessions helps. The osmosis of being around the best kids and picking up things from all the coaches around and being in the arena of 28 mats, the whole process makes you better. I think sometimes they don’t realize it until they get home.”
A schedule of events can be found at https://usawevents.sportngin.com/page/show/1019348-event-schedule.