Mechanicsburg’s Kaleb Romero became the 29th four-time state champion in the history of Ohio high school wrestling and in the process treated his fans with a little O-H-I-O.
By Ben Robinson
After finishing off a dominating state tournament with an emphatic pin in the state finals to become a four-time state champion, Mechanicsburg wrestling phenom Kaleb Romero had a special treat for the near sold out crowd at the Schottenstein Center.
As the crowd came to its feet to show its appreciation for Romero, the future Ohio State Buckeye circled the mat while leading the Schott in the O-H-I-O chant.
“I just wanted to give some love to Ohio State,” said Romero afterward. “I thought about what I wanted to do after the match to thank everybody who supported me and that’s what I came up with. It was my way of saying thank you.”
All eyes were on Romero throughout the tournament and he put on show – pinning Sean Netherton of Williamsport Westfall in 1:10, tech falling Cole Draper of Sycamore Mohawk, 21-6, and then pinning Chris Langguth of Rootstown in 1:09 of the semifinals.
He then saved his best for last, thrilling the crowd with a 52-second pin of Brad Vonderwell of Delphos St. John’s in the finals.
In all, it wasn’t the fact Romero won his fourth state title, but the way he won. He made four very talented wrestlers look helpless by displaying a blend of phenomenal wrestling technique and shear power. He made a sport that tests ones mental and physical fortitude look amazingly easy.
“It’s just hours upon hours of hard work over the course of several years,” shrugged Romero when asked how he makes it look so easy. “It’s not easy by any means. But the more I train and the more I refine my technique, I guess it makes my matches easier.”
It was an historic accomplishment for Romero as he became just the 29th wrestler in the state of Ohio to win four state titles.
But what made it much more enjoyable for Romero is the fact that his Mechanicsburg team won the team championship – a first in school history.
Also, two of his teammates won their first individual state championships, Tanner Smith at 145 pounds and Alex Rhine at 132 pounds.
“I’m more happy for my teammates,” said Romero with an ear-to-ear smile. “I’ve been very blessed with great teammates and great coaches. Winning a state championship as a team is something we all can enjoy together.”
As Romero made his rounds through the crowd to embrace family, friends and even admirers, it was apparent he had captured the imagination of wrestling fans who can’t wait to see him sporting the scarlet and grey over the next four years.
“Ohio State is getting the real deal with this kid,” said an official who was watching mat side as Romero took time to shake hands and take pictures with anyone who asked. “I’ve never seen anyone like him – so talented on the mat and very humble off it. He’s the total package.”
And Romero is excited about becoming Buckeye.
“There is a lot to be excited about with the wrestling program at Ohio State,” he said. “They already have a very good team and I’m just happy to know I’ll be a part of it in the future. It’s also close to home, so my family and friends will be able to watch me wrestle.”
And if Romero’s career at Ohio State is anything like his performance this weekend, don’t be surprised if he continues to lead the O-H-I-O chant.
MORE LOCAL STATE WRESTLING RESULTS…
Several local wrestlers finished on the podium at the 2017 Ohio High School Individual State Championships and two teams won team titles – Mechanicsburg in Division III and traditional power St. Paris Graham in Division II.
For Graham in Division II, coach Jeff Jordan and the Falcons had six wrestlers win state championships; Jordan Crace at 113 pounds, Mitch Moore at 132 pounds, J. D. Stickley at 138 pounds, Rocky Jordan at 152 pounds, Ryan Thomas at 160 pounds and Kavan Sarver at 195 pounds. The Falcons dominated the team standings with 232.5 team points with their closest challenger being Canfield with 87.0 points. It’s the 17th straight team championship and 19th overall for the Graham powerhouse.
In Division III, Mechanicsburg won the team championship with 118.5 team points, holding off a strong Genoa Area team that finished with 95.0 points. Mechanicsburg had three state champions in Alex Rhine at 132, Tanner Smith at 145 and Kaleb Romero at 170 with his fourth individual state title. Also, Colt Yinger finished runner-up at 152 pounds and Tyler Wentzel took third at 126 pounds for the ‘Burg.
Troy Christian had four wrestlers place with Ethan Turner (106 pounds) and Jacob Edwards (113 pounds) pacing the Eagles with third place finishes. Jared Ford took fifth at 138 pounds and Seth Douglas finished 7th at 285 pounds. The Eagles also finished 7th in the team standings with 50.5 team points.
Miami East had two state placers with Alex Isbrandt finishing runner-up to Alex Rhine at 132 pounds and Graham Shore finishing third at 120 pounds.
Covington’s Lance Miller became the 11th wrestler in Buccaneer history to place at state as he finished runner-up at 160 pounds, while Brett Vonderwell of Delphos St. John’s finished runner-up to Kaleb Romero at 170 pounds and Versailles’ Jerome Bey finished 7th at 182 pounds.