MECHANICSBURG — Another state championship dream has been put on hold for the talented but snake-bitten Mechanicsburg High School wrestling team.
Junior undefeated returning state fifth-placer and projected state champion Max Erwin suffered a broken right leg when he was involved in a one-vehicle accident Thursday morning on the 5000 block of County Road 1, according to a report by the Marysville Post of the State Highway Patrol.
The report said that Erwin, 18, of 1000 North Park Road, Bellefontaine, was driving a 1997 Ford pickup truck northbound around 9:15 a.m. on County Road 1 just north of Township Road 30 when he went off the right side of the road and struck a tree.
The report said he was trapped in his truck, which sustained heavy damage. He was transported to Mary Rutan Hospital by West Liberty EMS.
“There’s nothing life-threatening, that’s the blessing,” said Indians veteran head coach Brady Hiatt. “You’ve probably seen wrecks with less damage to the vehicle and more damage to the person driving.
“It was a pretty nasty break,” he added. “He showed me a picture; it was stomach-turning. They were going to do surgery (Thursday late afternoon) and put a rod in it. But that’s the worst of it and he’s going to be fine.”
Erwin had a perfect 33-0 record this season and was preparing to compete in today’s Division III sectional tournament at Sidney Lehman High School. He is projected as the D-III state champion at the 152-pound weight class in the widely respected Brakeman Report.
Erwin was named the Ohio Heritage Conference Wrestler of the Year at the annual league tournament last Saturday.
“He’s got one more year, so that’s a blessing,” said Hiatt. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s just high school sports. If the injury would have prevented him from ever wrestling again, but he was going to be able to live a normal life otherwise, then we’d have been happy with that. I’m sure he would have accepted it.
“But as Job said (in the Bible), ‘Should we only accept the blessings and not the trials?’ I told that to Max and he realizes he is blessed.”
The Indians lost another junior returning state qualifier, Austin Black, to a season-ending shoulder injury in December.
“It’s been a tough year for us,” Hiatt admitted. “We’ve had a variety of injuries, more than our fair share. But that’s what the Lord has for our team this year, so that’s what we’ll take.”
“The guys who will go on the mat (tonight at Sidney Lehman) will be ready to go. It’s a little extra incentive for them knowing a couple of our leaders would give anything to be out there. I expect them to rise up to the occasion.”
That would require not focusing on the past, and the hard luck that has hit a team that was projected to finish runner-up in D-III this season before all of the injuries hit.
“Adversity is part of the maturing process of our team,” said Hiatt. “Losing quality athletes like Max and Austin really hurts. But I expect us to be right up there (this weekend), at least giving it a run for a sectional title.”
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