Wrestling: Fourth state title a dream come true for Romero

Mechanicsburg senior Kaleb Romero waves to the crowd after capturing his fourth consecutive state championship on Saturday at Value City Arena. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing
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Mechanicsburg senior Kaleb Romero waves to the crowd after capturing his fourth consecutive state championship on Saturday at Value City Arena. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

Mechanicsburg’s Kaleb Romero had a little something extra planned to celebrate his fourth state wrestling title Saturday night at the Schottenstein Center.

After getting the job done in just under a minute against Brett Vonderwell of Delphos St. John’s, the Ohio State signee led the crowd in a couple rounds of the O-H-I-O chant.

“I wanted to show some love for the Buckeyes,” said Romero, who capped a 52-0 season. “I am so excited to be a Buckeye and be part of such an amazing program.”

The win in the 170-pound final was the 202nd in Romero’s high school career. He’s been wrestling since age 5, when he first set foot in Miron Kharchilava’s training facility in Columbus.

“It has been a heckuva ride,” Romero said. “It all started with Miron and what he taught me. It is just unbelieveable. All the countless hours I worked as hard as possible to be able to take that extra step.”

Romero crashed in on a double leg less than 10 seconds into the match, lifted and returned Vonderwell to the mat before turning him for the fall.

“I just wanted to go out and wrestle my match,” said Romero, the 29th Ohio wrestler with four state titles. “I wanted to go out and get my fourth, get one of my dreams.”

Romero’s title punctuated an historic night for the Indians. Mechanicsburg claimed its first state team title in wrestling, taking a 13-point lead over Oak Harbor going into the 170 finals.

“The kids deserve it,” Mechanicsburg coach Cameron Doggett said. “They have worked their butt off day in and day out and they deserved to finish it on top.”

Alex Rhine won the first title of the night for the Indians, an 8-6 sudden victory win over Miami East’s Alex Isbrandt at 132.

“It is an incredible feeling,” Rhine said. “I knew I had to get the takedown in sudden victory because he’s so good on the mat.”

For Rhine, the double title was sweet considering he is also one of the standouts of a football team that has fallen just short the last four years.

“Every year we have been so close,” Rhine said. “These seniors, this team, it is the closest group of friends I’ve ever had. Tyler Wetzel and I have drilled together since we were in sixth grade. You’d think we hated each other in the room and then we’d go do something after practice.”

While Mechanicsburg was winning its first title, Graham had locked up its 17th consecutive title on Friday.

Graham coach Jeff Jordan hadn’t thought of the streak until his son, Rocky, pointed out that some of the Graham wrestlers weren’t born when it began.

“The first thing that went through my mind was that we have done really well at Graham,” Jordan said. “The second thing I thought was that I am getting pretty old.”

With two matches left, the Falcons had gotten titles from Jordan Crace (120), JD Stickley (138), Mitch Moore (132), Rocky Jordan (152) and Ryan Thomas (160).

Moore used a second-period reversal for the lone points in winning his third title.

“He was a lot bigger than I was, but I knew if I kept at it something would happen,” Moore said. “This (winning state) never gets old. It feels like the first one.”

Jordan capped a 30-0 season in winning his second while Crace was also 30-0.

Jordan battled to a 8-0 win in a match where Ashland’s Sid Ohl was playing defense.

“I always want to score a lot of points,” Jordan said. “I was just a little more cautious because I didn’t want to make a mistake and give up something big.”

Division I: Springfield's Joe Cochran finished fourth at 195 after having to default his finals match.

Cochran strained an elbow ligament during his consolation semifinal win Saturday morning.

“He’s disappointed he didn’t get to fight for third, but I am very proud of my son,” Springfield coach Joe Cochran said. “Placing fourth in the state is an amazing accomplishment. He has another year to try and win it and I feel if he works as he did this past year, he will have a great chance to get it done.”

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