JJ Tipton received some of the toughest training in the state in 2011-12 without leaving Amanda-Clearcreek’s practice mat.
Tipton, now a senior for the Aces, was one of a four-person sparring group with Brad Minnard, Spencer Chenetski and Jake Genders in 2011-12. The other three were state qualifiers, and Chenetski and Genders earned All-Ohio honors.
“They came hard in the wrestling room and never took a day off,” Tipton said. “We just gotta try to do what they do.”
The senior class in 2011-12, highlighted by three of the Aces’ five state qualifiers, left a mark on the program, helping Amanda-Clearcreek win a sectional championship and their first Mid State League-Buckeye Division title. Tipton, fellow senior Jared Dilley and a host of underclassmen hope to keep the Aces at that level.
Five wrestlers was the most coach Brian Brison had sent to the state meet. He is hopeful Amanda-Clearcreek can match that this season, and also said the school record of 10 district qualifiers could be in reach.
“We have really high expectations for ourselves,” Brison said. “We know we can do a lot of good things. We know we’re good enough if we wrestle hard and do the things we’re supposed to do. We just have to keep focused.
“When people see that much success they think, ‘I can do this too.’ Things that maybe don’t seem achievable become an expectation.”
Dilley (132 pounds) and junior Billy Shannon (120) are the Aces’ returning state qualifiers who expect to have more success and build off their first career trips to the state meet. Tipton (170), Caleb Horn (152) Nick Hoffman (126) and Devan Boyer (132) are returning district qualifiers.
The competition within the team was strong in 2011-12, Dilley said. As a senior, he hopes to have a similar impact on the rest of the team.
“Our lineup last year was pretty intense because we had all good wrestlers,” Dilley said. “I just want to keep helping (the younger wrestlers) out and keep pushing them. Hopefully, they’ll do good this year, and next year it’ll be their turn.”
Brison said Amanda-Clearcreek might have snuck up on perennial MSL-Buckeye favorite Teays Valley in 2011-12 in winning the league title. That probably won’t happen again. The win against the Vikings in 2011-12 was the first in the Aces’ history.
Tipton marveled at the program’s growth in his four years with Amanda-Clearcreek. The Aces have a history of producing talented wrestlers, but that has expanded to a team full of guys capable of making the district meet.
“It’s pretty awesome that the progressing four years I’ve been here we’ve done everything right,” Tipton said. “It shows on the wrestling mat. It shows off the mat, too. Everyone respects us, I think. It’s pretty awesome knowing I’ve been here for four years, and I’ve been here through all of it.”