MARION, Ohio — Every legendary wrestler ends up earning a nickname. Nature Boy, Macho Man, Hollywood and The Game all quickly come to mind.
In high school, however, very rarely does a catchy moniker stick — unless you do something truly legendary.
If that’s the case, then Eastern senior Steven Fitzgerald might simply be known from now on as The Bar.
Fitzgerald — the first-ever state qualifier for EHS — capped his stellar career by earning the program’s first-ever win at the state level on Saturday evening during the 2021 Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III wrestling championships held at Marion Harding High School in Marion County.
Fitzgerald ended up going 1-2 overall in the heavyweight division, which included the historic pinfall win over Otsego junior Micah May at the 2:07 mark of the first consolation round.
Fitzgerald — who finishes the year with a 26-6 overall mark — dropped a 5-3 decision to Pymatuning Valley senior Victor Verba in the opener, then was pinned by Black River junior Travis Owen in the second consolation round.
In all, Fitzgerald accounted for Eastern’s first three points at the state tournament. The Eagles ended up tied with Columbus Academy, Madeira, Mapleton and Sherwood Fairview for 68th place overall.
Fitzgerald — a 2-time all-state running back on back-to-back playoff qualifiers the past two seasons — noted that he couldn’t really ask for much more than what he’s be given … both this weekend and throughout his senior campaign.
“I’ve been doing this since I was six years old, so to be finishing up my wrestling career at the state tournament is pretty awesome,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s crazy to think that I’m the only person in school history to be at state so far, but I have faith that there will be others after me. It’s been a pretty memorable weekend.
“It’s been somewhat of a story book year for me. Here I am at the state wrestling tournament competing after being part of the school’s first playoff win in football a couple of months ago. Given everything that’s going on in the world, it’s turned into a pretty good senior year for me.”
EHS coach Tyler Brothers — who is completing his second season in charge — didn’t really mince words on just what Fitzgerald has meant to the Eastern program. As he noted, it’s not just the past and now, but it’s also moving forward.
“Steven is the only kid at Eastern that has over 100 wins, and he’ll finish up with over 130 of them. He has every school record … wins, pins, all of them. He’s got our only two podium finishes at districts, he’s our only sectional champion and he’s our only state qualifier, plus he has a win at the state level. He’s pretty much the entire measuring stick now at Eastern,” Brothers said. “When kids come in the wrestling room for practice 10 and 15 years from now, all they are going to see is Steven Fitzgerald all over the banners and plaques that we have to acknowledge our accomplishments. He’s meant a world to our program the last four years and he’s worked very hard for this moment. He deserved every bit of doing what he did here this weekend.”
A total of 87 different teams scored at least one point at the D-3 championships. Legacy Christian won the Division III title with 128 points, while Milan Edison was the overall runner-up with 117.5 points.
Visit baumspage.com for complete results of the 2021 OHSAA Division III championships held Saturday and Sunday at Marion Harding High School.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.