Buckeye’s Light on the road back

In less than two years, Travis Light has gone from being partially paralyzed and wearing a halo vest to standing on the podium.

The Buckeye Local junior was severely injured while competing in the 2017 Panther Classic at Buckeye Local High school in Connorville on Feb. 4. He was LifeFlighted to a Pittsburgh hospital where he spent a couple of weeks before undergoing extensive rehabilitation.

Last Saturday, Light wrestled well enough to place third at the season-opening Union Local Rick Link Invitational. It was his third time on the podium, but the first since his accident.

“It feels really good,” Light said after receiving his third-place award. “My accident was a little less than two years ago, but it feels like it was just yesterday.”

Light admits that last season was a tough time, but he battled through it with shear determination.

“Last year I had a lot of mental blocks and it kind of kicked me in the butt every now and then,” he noted. “It stopped me from reaching my full potential. This year I’ve been wrestling for about six months now and I haven’t thought about it once.

“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life.”

Buckeye Local Head Coach Willie Saxton said he’s never met a more dedicated athlete.

“Travis has improved a lot. He started cutting weight in July to get down to 120. He was 150 at one point, but he started doing PT (personal training) with the military because that is where wants to go,” Saxton explained. “He started getting his weight down. He did it slow and took it day-by-day and month-by-month. He’s looking great right now. He can get to 113 if he chooses. I think either are good fits for him.”

“Very comfortable,” Light said of the weight difference. “I dropped down this season from 126 to 120 and I feel great. I’m a lot more healthy and I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been.”

While standing on the podium was a huge step in the direction Light is headed, he’s not finished by any means.

“Way more satisfying,” he said. “This is the best individual accomplishment that I’ve ever had.The only difference between where I am right now and the top is room for my improvement.”

Barnesville Doan Ford Wrestling Invitational

Established in 1969 as one of the first invitational tournaments in the tri-state area, the 49th annual Barnesville Doan Ford Wrestling Invitational is scheduled for Friday and Saturday in western Belmont County. It is a true bracket tournament.

More than 65 returning state qualifiers will be represented by outstanding teams from the tri-state area. Many athletes are currently ranked within the top 15 of their respective weight classes.

Wrestling will start at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday. The championship finals are estimated to start at 5 p.m..

The following 25 teams will be competing: Claymont, Berlin Brothers Valley (Pa.), Mercer (Pa.), Wheeling Park, Huntington, Indian Valley, Coshocton, Athens, Barnesville, Buckeye Local, Union Local, Shenandoah, East Liverpool, Martins Ferry, Caldwell, Brooke, Hurricane, West Branch, West Muskingum, Sandy Valley, Philo, Meadowbrook, John Glenn, River, and Beallsville.

Berlin Brothers Valley is from Berlin in Somerset County.

Huntington High will bring half-a-dozen wrestlers who placed at the 2018 W.Va. state tournament, including champion Zane Lanham at 182.

Coshocton’s Lucian Brink was a state runnerp at 106 last winter, as was Wheeling Park’s Andrew Shelek at 145 and Huntington’s London Bowen at 113.

Union Local Rick Link Leftovers

∫ In all of my days covering high school wrestling, I’ve never seen an individual as light as Union Local’s Colin Greenwood. The frosh tipped the scales at a robust 81 pounds while competing in the 106-pound division.

∫ First-year West Virginia University head coach Tim Flynn had an Ohio Valley product on his roster at Edinboro during the 2005-06 seasons, that being former Union Local three-time state champion Koel Davia.

Coach Bubba Invitational

The annual Coach Bubba Invitational Junior High tournament was held last Saturday at Martins Ferry High School.

Steubenville won the 16-team event with 207 points. St. Clairsville finished second with 152.5, while Bellaire (128), Barnesville (111) and Oak Glen (109.5) rounded out the Top 5 teams.

Individual champions were: 80–Dorian Burchett (OG); 86–Reese Stephen (BARN); 92–Skyler King (BARN); 98–Harrison Kazmirski (STC); 104–Jake Heatherington (BELL); 110–Alex Wood (STC); 116–Peyton Pyle (BPT); 122–CJ Spencer (IC); 128–Brayden Roth (BELL); 134–Ethan Waggoner (STEUB); 142–Marshal Sayre (CALD); 150–Cooper Blackburn (STEUB); 160–Wyatt Morris (SL); 172–Elijah Llewellyn (IC); 205–Spencer Ostevich (STEUB)