WELLINGTON — The smile broadened as the crowd began to rise from the bleachers around the packed Wellington gym.
Longtime Dukes wrestling coach John Sedlick was about to lead his team into its final home dual meets of the season and the final home dual meets of his storied career.
Sedlick, who has coached the Wellington program for the last 46 years, announced that he would be retiring after this season.
“I figure it’s just time,” said Sedlick, who began running the Dukes program in 1972. “There’s a lot of things that just catch up to you. I’m not getting any younger. I’ve got injuries, I’ve got limitations — I can’t coach the way I used to coach. I don’t want to overdo my welcome and get to a point where I’m ineffective. I’ve always been a guy that shows all the moves and that’s the way I’ve got to be.”
Sedlick, who was inducted into the Ohio coaches Hall of Fame in 2015 and the national coaches Hall of Fame in 2016, has led the Dukes to seven league titles — five in the Lorain County Conference and two in the Patriot Athletic Conference — and has coached six state champions, five state runners-up, 29 state placers and 49 state qualifiers.
The school held a ceremony to honor Sedlick before Thursday night’s PAC dual meets, and many of his former wrestlers were in attendance.
“Coming out here and seeing all my alumni fans that came back … it was awesome to see the support that I got,” he said. “I’m blessed to have great fans and I’ve been able to coach Wellington as long as I’ve had. It’s been a great run. It’s been fun all the way. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The Dukes only had seven wrestlers weigh in for Thursday night’s action, so they surrendered forfeits in half of their matches in losses to Black River (45-30) and Brookside (45-21).
But all seven Wellington wrestlers earned a win on Sedlick’s last night in the Dukes gym, with Trayton Bowman and Mason Wright winning two matches.
“It makes me feel good for him, getting a couple wins out here,” said Wright, who picked up a forfeit against Black River and a 12-6 decision over Brookside’s Jacob Stoehr. “A couple of us didn’t wrestle the way we wanted to, but I’m glad I got a win for him.
“It’s kind of like he’s a senior as well … we’re all leaving the program together. He’s been a part of it since I was in biddys. We’ve kind of been there together through it all.”
Black River and Brookside each went 1-1 Thursday, losing their other match against Buckeye.
It was a mixed bag for the Pirates, who earned several forfeits against the Dukes but surrendered several against the Bucks.
“That’s the unfortunate downfall that our sport is having,” Pirates coach Jesse Campbell said. “There’s a lot of teams that have lower numbers. We had guys that, in my opinion with the youth that we have, it just didn’t make sense to send them out there against an advanced experience Buckeye lineup. I mean they have state qualifier-level guys all through that thing.”
The Cardinals had a couple of holes in the middle of their lineup, but coach Seth Houston said he’s not judging the team’s success on the final score but on how they’re progressing from day to day.
“We’ve kind of shifted focus as a team this year,” he said. “We usually come out flying out of the blocks and seem to fall apart at the end. So the decision was made by myself and the assistant coaches that our focus has to be on keeping guys healthy, slowly moving to our weights and hitting our full stride at the end.
“The thing I love about my team is I have a bunch of guys who say, ‘Whatever you need, coach, I’ll do it.’ It’s hard to be upset when things don’t go exactly right when you have guys like that in the room.”
With the final home meet in the books, Sedlick will look forward to several other finals as his career comes to a close. While he admits the last couple of months will be emotional, he still has a job to do.
“What other choice is there … enjoy the ride and do what we can,” he said. “I want to try to get a couple of these guys down to the state tournament if I can.”
Buckeye 57, Brookside 21
106 — Eddie Pinc (Bu) pinned Eric Saddler, 5:38; 113 — Anthony Ashley (Bu) pinned Kaleb Lacavera, :36; 120 — David Ocasio (Br) pinned Sam Raco, 5:02; 126 — Jake Bartinelli (Bu) pinned Cayden Gainer, 3:31; 132 — Dominic Calabrese (Bu) won by forfeit; 138 — Ryan Steppenbacker (Bu) won by forfeit; 145 — Jaret Lowry (Bu) pinned Joseph Wachholz, 3:09; 152 — Nick Neitenbach (Bu) dec. Jacob Stoehr, 14-7; 160 — Doug Brown (Bu) pinned Eric Shafer, 3:14; 170 — Jarrod Setliff (Bu) pinned Ethan Garza, 1:10; 182 — Austin DiBiasio (Bu) pinned William Hawksley, 2:14; 195 — John Pickens (Br) dec. Landon Hollopeter, 7-2; 220 — Joshua Eschke (Br) won by forfeit; 285 — Eric Kebeiks (Br) won by forfeit.
Black River 45, Wellington 30
106 — Emily Watters (W) pinned Sarah Powell, :10; 113 — Trayton Bowman (W) pinned Halie Eckert, :17; 120 — Zach Lahood (BR) won by forfeit; 126 — Noah Orellano (BR) won by forfeit; 132 — Hunter Yeaples (BR) won by forfeit; 138 — Tyler Wilfong (W) won by forfeit; 145 — Mason Wright (W) won by forfeit; 152 — Micah Street (BR) won by forfeit; 160 — Double forfeit; 170 — Noah Kost (BR) won by forfeit; 182 — Riley Bartolic (BR) dec. Gabe Gayheart, 10-4; 195 — Jacob Campbell (BR) pinned Joseph Schramm, 1:02; 220 — Kyle Stevanus (BR) won by forfeit; 285 — Neal Hergina (W) won by forfeit.
Buckeye 48, Black River 18
106 — Pinc (Bu) won by forfeit; 113 — Ashley (Bu) won by forfeit; 120 — Lahood (BR) dec. Raco, 8-4; 126 — Bartinelli (Bu) dec. Orellano, 11-5; 132 — Yeaples (BR) dec. Calabrese, 10-8 (SV); 138 — Mike Clark (Bu) won by forfeit; 145 — Lowry (Bu) won by forfeit; 152 — Neitenbach (Bu) won by forfeit; 160 — Brown (Bu) won by forfeit; 170 — Setliff (Bu) won by forfeit; 182 — DiBiasio (Bu) dec. Bartolic, 12-7; 195 — Campbell (BR) won by forfeit; 220 — Stevanus (BR) pinned Hollopeter, 1:00; 285 — Double forfeit.
Brookside 45, Wellington 21
106 — Saddler (B) dec. Watters, 7-0; 113 — Bowman (W) pinned Lacavera, 3:28; 120 — Ocasio (B) won by forfeit; 126 — Gainer (B) won by forfeit; 132 — Double forfeit; 138 — Double forfeit; 145 — Wright (W) dec. Stoehr, 12-6; 152 — Wachholz won by forfeit; 160 — Shafer (B) won by forfeit; 170 — Garza (B) won by forfeit; 182 — Gayheart (W) pinned Hawksley, :57; 195 — Schramm (W) pinned Pickens, 1:39; 220 — Eschke (B) won by forfeit; 285 — Antonio Garza (B) pinned Hergina, 2:40. EXHIBITION — Tyler Wilfong (W) maj. dec. Bryson Cashell, 17-5.