COLUMBUS, Ohio — You could say that the Raiders came up empty … but that would actually be the furthest thing from reality.
The River Valley wrestling team had its sensational campaign come to a bittersweet end on Thursday at the 2019 OHSAA Individual Wrestling Championships held at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of the Ohio State University.
The Raiders ultimately remained winless at the state level after senior Eric Weber and freshman Nathan Cadle each went 0-2 within their respective divisions on Thursday night in Division III competition. Cadle wrestled at 138 pounds and Weber competed at 182 pounds.
The duo each suffered a pinfall loss in their opening bouts of the day, which led to a second match on Thursday night with the start of the consolation bracket.
Cadle — who lost to Newcomerstown sophomore Logan Hursey in the first match — dropped a 13-5 majority decision to Northwood senior Colton Falk in the nightcap.
Cadle — the first freshman in RVHS history to qualify for state — ended his season with a 44-13 overall record.
Weber — who lost to Barnesville senior Brylan Clouse in the first bout — dropped a 5-3 decision to Creston Norwayne sophomore Kaden Kidd in his finale.
Weber — a four-time district qualifier — ended his year with a 46-15 overall mark.
Both Cadle and Weber secured the first Tri-Valley Conference championships of their careers this winter, and they each played a large part in the Silver and Black winning the Division III Region 22 title before advancing to the OHSAA Team Dual Wrestling Championships in February.
Cadle and Weber also became the second and third state qualifiers in school history, joining only Zach Davis — who made multiple trips to state in both 2003 and 2004.
The Raiders are still winless in eight individual matches at the state tournament level.
The Silver and Black had a full roster for all 14 weight classes for the first time in two decades under venerable RVHS coach Matthew Huck.
After years of grinding away to build something better at River Valley, Huck was all smiles on Thursday at the state event — much like he has been for a majority of this 2018-19 campaign.
“It’s been a heck of a ride this season. Having a full team, winning the regional team title, appearing at two state tournaments and adding two names to our state qualifier board … I mean what a year for the program,” Huck said. “It’s been 15 years since we had a wrestler at state, so it’s nice to end that drought. It’s just been an incredible experience for these kids this year … and I’m proud of all of them.”
Cadle — who was fourth at the district tournament that qualified him for state — noted that he was a bit overwhelmed by his initial trip to Value City Arena. Then again, he has that experience under his belt now … and plenty of time to hopefully call upon it in the years to come.
“There’s always an adrenaline rush anytime you step on the mat, but walking out there as a freshman was truly an overwhelming and amazing feeling,” Cadle said. “This has been an experience and I’m already starting to look ahead at getting back here over the next three years. It’s exciting for me and it’s just an honor to be here as a competitor.
“I really want to thank my coaches and my teammates for pushing me to be my best all throughout the season. This incredible moment would not be possible without them.”
Weber — who was fourth at the district tournament that qualified him for state — also enjoyed his time at ‘The Schott’ and noted that there was no better way to finish his remarkable wrestling career than where it ended.
The four-year starting grappler with over 100 career wins also mentioned how proud he was knowing that the program is in a better shape now than it was four years ago when he was a freshman.
“Getting here was the biggest goal of my wrestling career. After four years of really hard work, it was very exciting to walk through that tunnel and compete at the state championships as an individual. I cannot think of a better way to finish my career at River Valley than like this,” Weber said. “It’s also nice to know that working with the underclassmen that we had this year could lead to even better things for the program in the future. Things are looking better on the way out than they did when we came in … and I really take a pride in that.”
Huck wasn’t too far off of his senior’s sentiments in looking at where the program can go from here.
“As good as this season was, I think we have some better things on the horizon,” Huck said. “We’re enjoying the ride that this year has been, but I really feel like the sky is the limit for this program moving forward. We have some talented kids coming through and we have a good number of kids coming back next season, so we really laid some quality ground work for the years to come.”
Visit baumspage.com for complete results of the 82nd annual OHSAA Individual Wrestling Championships being held this weekend at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.