Committing to Buckeyes ‘dream come true’ for 3-time champ Kaleb Romero

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Mechanicsburg star athlete committed to Ohio State to wrestle.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ever since he started rolling around on the mats as a 5-year-old peewee wrestler, Mechanicsburg three-time defending state champion Kaleb Romero knew what he wanted out of the sport.

That he’ll now realize it at his favorite university is just icing on the cake.

Romero recently verbally committed to accept a full scholarship to wrestle at Ohio State, which finished third in the 2016 NCAA Championships. He will join Bo and Micah Jordan, formerly of Graham, and Catholic Central graduate Anthony DeCarlo as Buckeyes.

“I grew up being a Buckeye and I have always loved them since the day I was born.” Romero said. “Ever since I was little and I won my first (junior high) state title I thought I had an opportunity to wrestle at a Division I college. (Wrestling at Ohio State) is a dream come true.”

Romero has a career record of 150-3 going into his senior season. Last year, he was dominant, with a 52-0 record and registered four technical falls on his way to a third state title at 160 pounds. He can become only the 29th wrestler in Ohio history to win four state titles this season.

“Kaleb is an extremely hard-working individual,” said Indians wrestling coach Cameron Doggett. “He’s always doing extra work when he gets done with practice. He’s always looking to get the competitive edge.”

That includes self-critique.

“After every match he wrestles, he is immediately going up in the stands, pulling up his Periscope video and watching himself and critiquing himself,” said Doggett. “I imagine he does the same kind of stuff during football season.”

Romero is also a star quarterback and defensive back on the undefeated football team, and has broken most of Mechanicsburg’s offensive records. A two-way starter since his freshman season, he just passed 5,000 career yards in both rushing and passing . He has had a hand in 125 touchdowns (67 rushing, 59 passing).

“He‘s just a natural athlete that is rare to see,” Doggett said. “When I first moved here, I knew a little bit about him, but not a lot. But when I talked to Brady (Hiatt, the long-time coach who Doggett replaced), his words to me were, ‘You could give him a basketball and he’d be the star basketball player at Mechanicsburg.’ That says a lot about the kind of athlete he is.”

Romero also made official visits to North Carolina and Cornell.

“I loved the other schools, too, but it comes down to my family and community and friends being able to come to watch me wrestle,” he said. “I was familiar with the coaching staff and the wrestlers, so that was part of it, too. They have a awesome program.”

Ranked as high as second in the nation at 160 pounds and 12th regardless of weight class, Romero says his career has been a sum of the parts.

“All the way growing up, I’ve had awesome drill partners and awesome coaches,” he said. “I started with Coach Miron (Kharchilava), a noted youth mats coach) when I was 5, he is probably the main reason I am at this point today. And my other coaches have been great, too.”

Doggett, a former state champion himself, has seen a lot of elite wrestlers during his days at Graham, then Kenton Ridge and now Mechanicsburg. Where does Romero rank?

“I would say that he is right up there with the best of them,” he said. “I think that with him (possibly) red-shirting his first year it is going to help him grow as a wrestler. He is always looking to be the best and most dominant. That mentality will set him apart from the pack in college.”

That mentality is never more evident than when Romero disclosed his collegiate wrestling goals: “I’m hoping to win multiple nationals titles and multiple team titles.”

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