ROOTSTOWN — Winning cures all ills. It also ends all doubt.
The Cloverleaf wrestling team can end a 37-year drought and right a wrong at the same time Friday and Saturday at the Portage Trail Conference Tournament.
If the Colts win the PTC Tournament or stay ahead of Norton and Woodridge, Cloverleaf will win only the second conference crown in team history (1981 Pioneer).
“I know that our captains themselves have been using that to motivate the kids,” Colts coach Ken Curtis said. “All the guys on the team have said, ‘Let’s get together and make this happen.’”
That single idea has been on the minds of the Colts all season. They have come close since joining the PTC but have always fallen just short.
“It would really show the hard work that we put in in the practice room day in and day out,” 160-pounder Caleb Cass said. “It would really help us show how far Cloverleaf wrestling has come.”
It would also solve what has become a rather hairy puzzle in the Metro Division.
Earlier this season, Cloverleaf dispatched reigning champion Woodridge, which finished 5-2 in the league, to set up a gigantic match with one-loss Norton last week.
Unfortunately for the Colts, that dual didn’t go their way in a 38-22 loss.
Redemption is just a day away at Rootstown High School as Cloverleaf looks to make a statement in the two-day tournament that begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
“We got a reality check against Norton,” Curtis said. “We knew it was going to be hard. It has inspired these guys to come out on Friday and Saturday both and place as high as they can and do what they’re expected to do.
“That match was a big disappointment even though the guys wrestled with a lot of passion that day. We also know that Woodridge is still a team to be reckoned with and will be a challenge.”
The rest of the league might have something to say about just where the Colts, Panthers and Bulldogs fall in the pecking order.
Seven return as champions. Three come from Woodridge. None hail from Cloverleaf or Norton.
The Colts have only one returning runner-up in Cory Stallings (195 pounds), with Kenny Jenkins (113), Ryan Curtis (138), Cass and Bryce Hart (170) returning as third-place performers.
“(The loss to Norton) really lit that fire under our guys,” Cass said. “This week has really been the best week of preparation we’ve had all year. We know they’re coming for us and we’re coming right back.
“A lot of conference teams are at our district or sectional. It gives you a chance to wrestle those guys once more before it. We have a good conference, so you’re wrestling a tough tournament to prepare you for sectional that probably isn’t as tough as our conference.”
That might be the biggest takeaway from this weekend regardless of whether Cloverleaf wins or loses.
Conference titles are nice, but state champions and state placers are remembered more.
“If we do well, it’ll hopefully motivate these guys,” Curtis said. “A strong placing as an individual and team will get these guys psyched up so they can go into sectionals feeling good.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.