Even though he finished second in the state this past season, Ethan Ducca said he really didn't realize what was possible concerning his wrestling career.
The soon-to-be St. John senior announced he has accepted an offer to wrestle at Edinboro University after graduation next year.
Prior to his state runner-up finish in March, he said wrestling at the college level was the furthest thing from his mind.
But the spotlight of being at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus changed things in a hurry.
“Honestly, it wasn’t even a thought my sophomore year, not until after the state tournament.” Ducca said. “I had no idea how things were going to work out with transferring and everything.”
A transfer from Chardon a year ago, Ducca went 39-6 for the Heralds and dropped the Division III, 160-pound state final to three-time state placer and two-time state champion James Limongi, of Genoa Area, by a 7-1 decision.
Prior to his transfer, Ducca took sixth at the Divisioin II Alliance District Tournament as a freshman, before losing his sophomore year to injury.
Although he had success at Chardon, Ducca credits the Heralds program for helping him reach the next level.
“It really was the best thing ever happen to me,” he said of the transfer east. “I have to thank (St. John coach) Scott (Blank), my teammates and all the coaches. Without them, I really would not be able to get to where I am and be in the position that I am.”
Ducca said he began to receive interest from schools just a few weeks after the state tournament. Programs such as Clarion, Lake Erie and George Mason, among others came calling. But Edinboro was the front runner from the start.
“We’ve been fans of the program for awhile,” he said. “We’ve always liked Edinboro and when all the schools starting contacting me, they were my favorite from the beginning. I loved the guys there, loved coach (Matt) Hill, and I just felt the best there.”
Edinboro is joining the Mid-American Conference for wrestling starting in the 2019-20 season.
Ducca is following what is starting to become a pipeline to the school in northwestern Pennsylvania from the county.
Gaige Willis, a two-time state champion and 2018 Pymatuning Valley graduate, began with the Fighting Scots program last year. Former St John and current Lakeside wrestler Jacob Lagoa made his commitment to Edinboro after graduation in 2020.
“We’re very excited for him,” Blank said of his Ducca's decision. “It’s also great that we’ll be able to go and see him and Jacob both wrestle.”
Ducca is also the second wrestler from St. John and fourth from the county to commit to or announce plans to wrestle for a college program this year.
Aside from Lagoa, Nick Burgard is headed to Lake Erie this fall, as is Geneva graduate Braden Bilicic.
Ducca is considering a major in either education or physical therapy. As far as wrestling goes and with his college plans locked down, he can focus on his goal of winning a state championship next March.
“That’s a big goal of mine,” he said. “I really made a big leap in the last year. Now it seems like I can achieve whatever now the sky’s the limit. I really feel confident that I’ll be on top of that podium.”