Parker Watson came close to qualifying for the Division III state tournament as a sophomore.
Last year at the district tournament in Garfield Heights, the Lutheran West wrestler and Avon resident started the tournament 2-0 at 132 pounds, just one win away from a trip to Columbus.
But then he lost his next two matches — 10-2 to Garrettsville’s Logan Kissel and by pin in 2:19 against Tuslaw’s Isaac Elliott. His opponents went on to meet in the third-place match at the state tournament.
Watson bounced back to place fifth at the district tournament. But falling just short of a state bid taught him a couple of lessons.
“I can’t take anyone for granted,” Watson said. “I have to wrestle my match, wrestle how I want to do it. If I cave into how they want me to wrestle it’s not going to be the outcome I want. I just have to have the mentality to keep it my way.
“I had some goals and I didn’t reach them. But with all my offseason work I hope to get those accomplished this year.”
Lutheran West coach Dave Ressler said that Watson, despite falling short of the state bid, had a breakout sophomore year. He finished 40-10 and went from finishing second at the Independence sectional as a freshman at 120 pounds to winning the 132-pound weight class as a sophomore.
Ressler said Watson will start this year at 138 — where he is ranked No. 14 in the state by Intermat.com — but is certified at 132 and will likely drop to that weight at some point during the season.
“He really came on the scene sophomore year in the toughest weight class — 132 was just loaded,” Ressler said. “Taking fifth at districts was very good considering the four kids ahead of him all placed at the state tournament. That just shows what level he was at, and we’re looking for big things, for him to make it down to state this year.”
Watson worked a lot on his top game, with Ressler adding that Watson’s focus this offseason was in improving his ability to break down opponents and ride them out. The coach said Watson is strong on bottom and great on his feet — takedowns probably being his strongest area.
He also took on some strong competition over the summer as a member of Ohio’s Greco Roman team for the Junior and Cadet Nationals in Fargo, N.D.. The
two-week Team Ohio camp exposed Watson to some of the strongest wrestlers in the state and paired him with some of the best coaches to help him take his game to the next level.
Unfortunately, Watson wound up injuring his ribs in camp, but Ressler said he competed through them without forfeiting.
“There were some great coaches who gave me insight to what I hadn’t known before,” Watson said. “That camp was so useful in teaching me more how to use my hips and bring a higher intensity to wrestling because it’s with the highest-caliber guys in the state.”
He’s healed now and ready to go chase that state bid.
“That’s everyone’s dream in the state other than being on top of the podium,” Watson said. “It’d be a huge step (to qualify), but that’s not all I want to do. I hope to make it even further than that.”
- Black River's Zach LaHood wants to get over rough finish from last year
- Rise of the wise: Elyria's Joshua Breeding excels on mat, in classroom
- Keystone senior Justin Ochletree shooting for podium spot
- The incredible bulk: Midview's Trever Begin adds size, muscle in state quest
- Firelands' Payton Burgdorf rising through the ranks
- Amherst heavyweight Matt Lee has tunnel vision for Columbus
- Vermilion's Tyler Bath makes splash in multiple sports