High School wrestling: Shawnee seniors, practice partners, seek state berths

SPRINGFIELD – For four years Jack Cain and Adam Myers have gone head-to-head in the Shawnee Braves’ wrestling room as practice partners. And – for more times than they can remember – they’ve butted heads, too.

It’s been a self-described love-hate relationship between two competitive wrestlers. But this year, their senior season, the wrestling has been more about respect and admiration than rivalry.

“It’s the competitive nature of the sport,” Shawnee coach Jake Mershon said. “I’ve always told them there will come a point when you hate your practice partner. The day you don’t feel like really going is the day he’s going. … As a junior and senior they started seeing what they were doing for each other and how good they could make each other. That maturity hit along with that athleticism and it really changed it. It also made them better leaders for the rest of the team.”

Cain (9-2 in the 160-pound weight class) and Myers (22-2 at 182) lead the Braves into the Division III district championships Friday and Saturday at Troy’s Hobart Arena. Junior Jordyn Dillavou (120) and freshmen Brandon Day (106), Grant Driskill (113) and Cash Bates (220) also qualified.

Mershon, a 2007 Shawnee graduate, said the Braves are able to fill all 14 weight classes for the first time in nine seasons. He credits assistant coach Dave Myers (Adam’s dad) and junior varsity coach Luke Matthews with helping build the program.

The D-III tournament at Hobart runs Friday and Saturday. Early-round matches for 106 through 145 weight classes are in the morning session. The 152 through 285 weight classes are in the evening. The D-I tournament in Kettering and the D-II tournament in Wilmington both start Thursday and run through Saturday with the same split sessions.

The goal for both Cain and Myers is the same – to qualify for the state tournament. But they enter with different mindsets. Myers went 2-2 at last year’s district tournament. He’s motivated by a two-point loss and one-point loss to wrestlers who finished fourth (state qualifier) and fifth (state alternate).

“In the past it’s always been I hope I make it,” Myers said. “Now it’s like I’m going to make it. I’m going to go compete and I’m going to win the matches I’m supposed to win.”

As for Cain, a state alternate last season, he’s just happy to have the opportunity. He suffered a gruesome dislocated elbow at the Clark County Clash on Jan. 9. He left Springfield High School on a stretcher after going into shock.

“I thought my season was over,” said Cain, who returned to practice about three weeks ago. “It’s something I wake up in the morning and can’t wait to do. Not having it was horrible. Just sitting and watching all my friends wrestling and having fun.

“(Qualifying for state) weighed on me pretty heavily before my injury. But after my injury I’m just so glad to be back. I’m not even thinking about it. I just want to go wrestle.”

Myers won a sectional title last Saturday. Cain also reached his title match, but elected to stop with a medical forfeit and not risk injury having already advanced. Both were back in the Braves’ wrestling room this week preparing for districts.

They became good friends their freshman season. But they tended to be at odds more often during their sophomore and juniors seasons as they cut weight and became competitive.

“That anger still fueled good drill sessions,” Myers said. “It’s the old saying, steel sharpens steel. It made us better and it made us good friends outside of the practice room as well.”

Myers got into wrestling at the suggestion of his kindergarten teacher. Her husband happened to be Shawnee’s pee-wee coach.

“I started wrestling because my teacher told my parents I had too much energy,” Myers said. “I haven’t taken a year off since kindergarten. … I love it because it’s one of the toughest sports out there, especially in high school. It’s a good sport to see how much of a man you are.”

Cain started when he was about seven when he realized other sports might not be for him: “I tried basketball and I was not much of a team player. When the ball went on the ground I liked to wrestle for it.”

Both are near the top of their classes – Cain at Shawnee High School and Myers at Global Impact STEM Academy. Both are considering majoring in pre-law. And both have joked with Mershon he has to remain the Braves’ coach until they can return to take over the program.

Following a recent practice, after other wrestlers had gone home or to other obligations, Cain and Myers remained to put in extra time drilling with coaches and each other. Those are some of the many reasons Cain and Myers have served as team captains the past two seasons.

“Both are high caliber kids,” Mershon said, “and I look for big things out of both of them.”

Dominating day for OHC: The Ohio Heritage Conference celebrated a record day at sectionals. Greenon won the team title at the Covington sectional site, Greeneview won the Madeira sectional and Mechanicsburg won at Lehman Catholic.

The team sectional titles were the first in program history for both Greenon and Greeneview.

The three teams combined to win nine individual sectional titles – four by Greenon, three by Mechanicsburg and two by Greeneview.

Of the 63 area district qualifiers 36 are from the OHC, 25 are from the Central Buckeye Conference and two are from the Greater Western Ohio Conference.

Graham leads the way by qualifying all 12 of its varsity wrestlers. Also advancing wrestlers were Mechanicsburg (11), Greenon (10), Greeneview (9), Shawnee (6), Northwestern (3), Southeastern (2), Springfield (2), Tecumseh (2), Triad (2), West Liberty-Salem (2), Kenton Ridge (1) and Urbana (1).