Growing up, Ethan Wannett said he was never the kid that was expected to win.
“I was always the underdog,” the incoming Lakeside senior said.
That will not be the case, though, when the wrestling mats hopefully roll out this winter.
Wannett, a Divisioin I state qualifier a year ago, will enter his senior season ranked as one of the top state-ranked wrestlers in his division, according to borofanohio.net.
Wannett is ranked 13th for the 126 pound-weight class for Division I, which were released on Sunday.
A text message from a buddy was how he found out the news.
“I was pretty surprised,” Wannett said of the ranking. “Last year, I was in the 20s. I guess hard work pays off.”
The hard work has paid off. After coming up a match shy of getting out of the Division I Mentor District his sophomore year, Wannett put on a dominant postseason performance this past March.
He wrestled his way to the 120 district championship mat with impressive wins over Manny Scordos from tradition rich Brecksville with a pin in 55 seconds and Chris Rocha of Painesville Riverside, who had defeated him earlier in the season, by a 10-7 decision.
In the finals, Wannett lost a 10-1 major decision to Kolin Howard of Maple Heights. The loss dropped his season record to 37-9, however, it did not take from the confidence he ended bringing to Columbus with him had the coronavirus pandemic not cancelled the tournament.
“I really just stepped it up,” Wannett said of the past season. “One of the big factors was I needed to cut weight. In the room, I was pushing harder and getting better at the same time. I was maintaining my weight, I was cutting, I was prepared. Everything was perfect, and then that happened. I didn’t really believe it.”
While the 13th ranking surprised him, it didn’t Dragons coach Andrew Horvath.
“I think he absolutely deserves to be top 15,” Horvath said. “Personally, I think he’s even a little better than they ranked him at. The truth is we wrestle a lot in Cleveland and Youngstown. Being from Ashtabula County, no one is going to think that’s the guy that’s gonna win the tournament. It means a lot. He’s earned everything that he’s been given.”
The cancelation of the state tournament four months ago is something Wannett said has given him even more motivation to get back this year and land on the podium.
“I just need to keep working hard and hopefully I can get down to state this year if everything goes through with the covid [pandemic],” Wannett said. “I want to place in the top four.”
Division III county wrestlers ranked in the top 20 include St John’s Ryan Elrod, who is first at 285; Jefferson’s Colt Edgar, 11th, 160; Pymatuning Valley’s Victor Verba, 12th, at 285, Grand Valley’s Trevor Meeker, 15th at 132; GV’s Chase Cottrell, 17th, at 220 and Conneaut’s Amari Bowers, 20th at 132.
In Division II, Edgewood’s Joey Jaraface is ninth at 106, while Geneva has three ranked in the top 10 — Charles Taylor eighth, at 220; Caleb Selman, ninth at 160 and Jesse McElroy, 10th at 145.