BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
MARION — It was another successful season for Oak Harbor wrestlers, as Wyatt Miller won the championship at 195 pounds, and the Rockets finished off the year by coming in 11th at the Division III state tournament with 33 points.
Legacy Christian Academy edged Edison to claim the title with 128 points. The Chargers finished second with 117.5 points, followed by Delta (73.5), Miami East (65) and Mechanicsburg (51).
Oak Harbor nearly won a Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division title, losing by half a point to Edison. The Rockets had claimed a sectional title and were third at district.
“I thought it was an excellent season. We were a team with only two seniors. At sectionals, we put out four freshman,” said Oak Harbor coach George Bergman. “There was a lot of learning this year, and I thought our team came a long way from the start of the season.”
“One of our highlights was beating Bellevue, and they won the SBC Lake Division, the big-school division. We wrestled well at the league meet and nearly beat Edison, which won the state team dual championship,” said Bergman. “We won the sectional with 13 teams, there were some very good teams. At districts, I think there are 53 teams, and we finished third, and then we were 11th in the state.”
Bergman spotlighted the success of his underclassmen.
“It was a fun group to work with. They were coachable and worked hard. The coaching staff, we had a lot of fun this year.”
Miller was one of the most impressive wrestlers of the entire tournament, winning four matches in convincing fashion to finish the season 48-0 and go out on top. The senior, who will wrestle next fall at Appalachian State University, where his cousin, Ian, is an assistant coach, won his first match by fall, the next two by major decision and pinned Westfall’s Starr Kelly in the finals just before the first-period buzzer sounded.
Miller is the first wrestler to not allow an offensive point against him in a season on the team since fellow Rocket J.D. Bergman, who went on to a stellar career at Ohio State, accomplished that feat in 2003.
Wyatt is yet another wrestling star in the lineage of the Miller clan, five of whom have won a total of six state titles. Tait, Wyatt’s father, was a state champion; Ian won a championship; Chad, his uncle, won a title, and Ferd, another uncle, won two championships.
Wyatt Miller, who had a back injury as a sophomore that prevented him from competing in the postseason and won a district title last year but didn’t get to wrestle because of the coronavirus pandemic, talked about his performance and the program as a whole.
“It’s pretty cool to win the championship,” Miller said. “I wanted it a little bit more because it didn’t work out last year.
“You’ve got to have a good work ethic. George Bergman runs a great program; my coaches really push me at practice. If you buy in, you’ll be successful.”
Bergman talked about what Miller has accomplished.
“Wyatt has come a long way in a short time. As a freshman, he was in a good sectional and didn’t make it out. His sophomore year, he got hurt and couldn’t participate in sectionals, and in his junior year, he won the district, but was denied a chance to wrestle at the state tournament,” said Bergman.
“There was a lot of pressure on him for not wrestling in the state tournament last year. He was ranked No. 1 and there was a target on his back. He was the hardest worker in the room for us. Any time you have your best wrestler be your hardest worker, everyone falls in line. To not have an offensive point scored against him, that’s just very, very impressive.”
Bergman said his star wrestler never took a day off in practice, said Bergman.
“He goes all in, all out, all the time. It’s amazing what he did. I think Oak Harbor has had 24 state champions and I can’t recall any of them being as dominant at a state tournament as Miller had been this year.”
Bergman talked about how Miller compares to some of the other great Rocket wrestlers.
“We’ve had so many good wrestlers, we’ve been spoiled. I think Wyatt is still improving and hasn’t peaked yet. He’s just getting better and better every year,” said Bergman. “Some of those other guys, they were going to state as freshmen.
“Wyatt made up a lot of ground on a lot of those guys. I think his best wrestling might be to come yet. For one year, he definitely is one of the best for the year — to not to allow an offensive point and go 48-0, just the consistency that he showed all year, obviously he’s in that elite category. His senior year definitely ranks with all the best of them. J.D. was undefeated his last two years, and Ian won the state title as a junior and win the IronMan, which is the toughest tournament in the country. And Cody Magrum won three state titles.”
Miller’s teammate, Cade Petersen, finished eighth at 145. He lost his opening match to Miami East’s David Davis, 10-4, but recovered to win the next two in a row. Petersen defeated Rootstown’s Cody Coontz, 5-1, and earned himself a spot on the podium by edging Liberty Center’s Dylan Matthews, 3-1, via sudden victory. He then lost, 9-3, to Garfield’s Hunter Andel.
“Cade had a very good season. He made it down to state again for the second time, and that was a thrill for him, but he didn’t get a chance to wrestle. He beat an opponent that had beat him in the district finals and beat him once or twice last year — that guy was a state placer; that was quite an accomplishment,” said Bergman.
“Cade has a year left, and I know he wasn’t totally satisfied with his performance. He’ll be one of our leaders next year. It’s nice that he can fall back on that experience at state and being a state placer.”
Michael Judge (113) and Owen Miller (132) fell one victory short of placing, and Tyler Davis (126) and Hayden Buhro (152) also competed at the tournament.
Davis lost his two matches, but put up a great fight. He lost his first match to Wayne Trace’s Jarrett Hornish, who won the state championship.
“It was Tyler’s third time at state,” said Bergman. “He lost to his first opponent in a tight match to the guy that won the state title.”
Bergman knows that it will be beneficial for his team to lean on this experience next year.
“When you have experience you can fall back on it, next time you’re in that situation, I think it builds up a little hunger in the individuals,” he said. “I think that experience will help next time in that same situation.”