STEUBENVILLE - Though he's getting ready to head to Serbia to represent the United States in the 2013 FILA Cadet World Championships, Devin Brown doesn't forget where he started his wrestling career.
"I appreciate everybody that supported me back home in Steubenville, especially Smitty (Smitty's Sportatorium owner Mike Smith) because if it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be wrestling," said Brown.
"It makes me feel good because I can always count on Smitty. He put me on the path to success."
That "path to success" saw him finish third at the 2012 Ohio State Wrestling Tournament as a freshman at Big Red before transferring to Saegerstown High School in Pennsylvania where he won the 2013 state title at 106 pounds. His latest triumph took place in Akron when he claimed the 46 kilogram (101.4 pound) title at the FILA Cadet Nationals to qualify for the World Championships on Aug. 20-25 in Zrenjanin, Serbia.
"I competed in this tournament so I could be a world team member," said Brown. "That's all I wanted to do. I missed the tournament last year because I was at a state tournament so this year I really wanted to be on the world team."
His desire showed as he dominated his competition throughout the tournament starting with four consecutive 10-0 technical fall victories over a trio of Ohio grapplers and an opponent from Missouri. His semifinal match against Ben Freeman, of Michigan, was his closest, finishing with a 10-4 decision, and he ultimately tech falled Michigan's Ian Parker, 13-3, to claim the title.
The victory provides Brown with the opportunity to train with some of the best wrestlers in the country at the U.S. Olympic Facility.
"It feels good because when you're there you're with the best people," said Brown. "You feel like you must be one of the best as well. It feels good to know you're with best people, putting in the work, and getting better."
It's not all fun though as some sacrifices must be made in order to compete in the sport he loves.
"Everything leading up to the world championships is worth it," said Brown. "Right now I'm hungry and thirsty ... suffering to make weight, but I know it's all worth it to make it to the top of the podium."
Brown knows he has to be at his best to compete in Serbia, but feels if he is the tournament should come down to him and one other wrestler.
"There's a kid that won the European championships (Bohdan Lazaryev of Ukraine)," he said. "Me or him are most likely to win because we both won our tournaments. I'm looking forward to wrestling him.
"If I keep a straight head I should be able to beat him, but if I don't, like any other good wrestler, he could catch me at any time. I have to be aware."