Two Dukes wrestlers earned Patriot Athletic Conference championships this month at Brookside High School, one overcoming a rash of injuries and the other carrying on a family legacy on the mats.
Wellington senior Christopher Miller won the 170-pound bracket, his first conference crown after battling shoulder ailments and a concussion the past few years.
“This was the first time I got to wrestle in the PAC tournament, period,” he said. “The desire to get to the state tournament has kept me going this season and through the injuries.”
Miller’s opponent in the final, Zach Sanger of Buckeye, was an early-season rival.
“That kid beat me 8-7 in our first match, and I won 12-2 in the final,” he said. “It was mostly a matter of execution. I don’t think I mentally prepared enough for the first match. I think I underestimated him. It was really cool to take a major decision like that.”
Junior Mason Wright’s win was his third PAC championship and just another notch in his family’s wrestling history in Wellington. He’s also recorded over 100 wins in his time at Wellington High.
His uncle, Homer Wright, won a state title at WHS in 1991, and his father, Dean Wright, was a state runner-up that same year.
“Seeing their names up there on the wall really motivates me,” said Mason. “I’m just trying to place high and make it out of districts. It should be fun.”
He said when he began defeating juniors and seniors as a freshman, it was like a light going on that told him he can hold his own with the best wrestlers the area has to offer.
“I gained a lot of confidence from that first win and from each one after,” he said. “We have sectionals coming up, so we’re all trying to focus on that too.”
Miller agreed that Wellington and coach John Sedlick’s long history of wrestling success adds a great deal of incentive to work hard.
“It’s pretty special to be here since we’ve had so many great wrestlers in the past,” said Miller. “Coach Sedlick has had so much success and that pushes us to live up to that standard.”
Sedlick said both wrestlers are driven to improve after victories and defeats.
“Chris knew he could turn the tide in the PAC final, and he handled it really well,” he said. “He dominated that tournament. It was a matter of mental prep. Mason also had a fairly easy win and pinned his guy in the finals. He kind of breezed through it. He’s been doing that since he was 14.”
The Dukes will travel to Independence High School for sectional tournament action beginning at 10 a.m. this Saturday.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.