The emotions involved with high school sports are incredible.
One minute an athlete can be sitting on top of the world, while the next minute he's in tears.
Ohio Valley wrestlers experienced all of those and probably then some at this past weekend's 74th annual OHSAA State Wrestling Championship.
HILLIARD DAVIDSON junior Chase DeLande points to his parents, Ohio Valley natives Dave and Stephanie (Miller) DeLande.
And who could blame them? Having the season culminate during the first weekend in March at The Ohio State University is the goal of each wrestler in the Buckeye State when he begins his season in November.
In the middle, there are three months worth of blood, sweat, tears, training and monitoring diets to get to this point. To say wrestlers have a lot invested is still way too much of an understatement.
As I spent the entire weekend inside Value City Arena watching 11 area matmen battle, it hit me more and more that wrestling is one of the most grueling sports in which a prep athlete can take part.
I saw a little bit of everything. You see wrestlers riding a roller coaster of emotions. Advancing to Saturday's championship matches have wrestlers on the ultimate high, but to lose on Saturday leaves just a stinging sensation.
Your heart has to go out to a kid like Dominic Prezzia. The St. Clairsville senior is just a first-class individual. While everyone realizes what kind of talent, heart and determination this kid has on the wrestling mat. However, in the past few months of really covering Prezzia, watching him and getting to know him, you can see there's much more to this kid than just wrestling.
After winning a match on Friday, the first person Prezzia embraced was his twin sister Christina. Then following his tough-to-swallow overtime loss in the state final, Prezzia embraced both his head coach, Joel Sansone and assistant coach Gene Monteleone and thanked them for everything.
Then he ran into his father, Paul, who himself was a standout prep wrestler for Wellsville. The two embraced for the better part of five minutes, sharing tears. While I wasn't privy to what they were whispering each other, something tells me that it didn't matter what happened on the mat Saturday that Dom had done nothing but make his entire family proud.
Prezzia them shared hugs with his mother and sisters and other family and friends who were seated on the floor to watch him in his first state-title match.
Several minutes later, Prezzia had the guts and courage to talk to me about the match. I must admit it was a tough interview to conduct because he's just a high school kid who some 30 minutes earlier had fallen short of something he so badly wanted.
Prezzia handled it with class and dignity. That, to me, was all the proof I needed that despite his silver medal, Prezzia was a winner in every sense of the word. Via his Facebook page, Prezzia thanked all of his friends and supporters, who'd sent good-luck wishes throughout the season and been there every step of the way.
You see, being a state champion is the greatest accomplishment a high school athlete can attain, but being a great kid and person is something that will take you many, many places in the future. And, Prezzia has that and so much more going for him.
While it's tough now, there's going to come a time when Prezzia and all the local wrestlers, who not only earned all-Ohio, but qualified for the state tournament will look back at the 2011 OHSAA State Tournament and smile.
ALL HE DOES IS WIN TITLES
Hilliard Davidson has had quite a run of athletic success over the last several years. It seems like each time a Wildcats' team is successful, there's a DeLande right in the middle of it.
That was the case again this past weekend at the OHSAA Division I wrestling tournament when junior Chase DeLande became the fifth Davidson wrestler to win a Division I state title.
DeLande, who is the son of St. C. graduate Dave DeLande and Shadyside graduate Stephanie Miller DeLande, also played a key role on the 2009 Davidson state championship football team.
In wrestling, DeLande finished with an impressive 46-2 record after a 9-4 decision over Massillon Perry's Tanner Lemon in Saturday night's championship match.
With a state championship ring in a team sport and now an individual gold, DeLande was asked to compare the two in Sunday's edition of the Columbus Dispatch.
"Wrestling is more of a thrill," DeLande told the Dispatch. "It hits you all at once. People are so close to you, and all eyes are on you. In football, it's such a long game. It's still a thrill, but in a whole different way."
DeLande's wrestling success should come as no surprise to anyone around the Ohio Valley. He comes from tremendous stock. His father was a three-time OVAC champion at St. C. and then a three-time All-American at West Liberty State College.
DeLande has several family members who still reside in the Ohio Valley.
GOOD SHOWING FOR CURNES
In Saturday's edition we featured former Martins Ferry and West Liberty State College standout Doug Curnes, who is now the head coach at Troy High School and had his first-ever state qualifier this season.
Curnes now has his first all-Ohioan as a head coach. Curnes guided senior Cole Cochran to a fourth-place finish at 125 pounds in Division I after reaching the state semifinals.
Though this was my second time to cover the Ohio State Tournament, it had been several years since I had been there. I had forgotten just how exciting the opening ceremonies before Saturday evening's finals can be. Seeing the pyrotechnics display as the 28 finalists in all three divisions parade into the arena is just chilling.
I would go as far as to say, it's the best OHSAA event of the year. It places the spotlight - both literally and figuratively - directly upon the student-athletes. That's exactly the job of the OHSAA.
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com