Caleb Ohl already has D.J. DeVito to scrap with in the Newark Catholic wrestling room.
When big brother Nate comes home from West Point, where he’s on the Army wrestling team, it jacks up the competition level higher.
The Green Wave junior wouldn’t want it any other way. After making the state tournament in 2012 at 106 pounds, he’s set much higher goals this winter at 113. As his 17-0 start would attest — including titles at the Licking County Invitational and Coshocton Stitchco Classic — Caleb Ohl is well on his way towards meeting those goals.
DeVito, who competes at 120 and also is a returning state qualifier, is Caleb Ohl’s wrestling partner in practice.
“We always push each other. We’re very competitive in the room,” Caleb Ohl said. “We push each other to the highest level. There’s no slacking.”
“It brings out the best in both of them,” NC coach Jason Boucher said. “With Nate in the group last year, we’ve been fortunate to have such a good group of lightweights.”
“When (Nate Ohl is) home, we work together,” Caleb Ohl said. “Nate used to beat on me and push me every day. We’d go so hard we’d almost get into fist fights. That intensity, that work ethic in the room, even though he’s not here, it’s still there.”
For the younger Ohl, wrestling takes up most of his year.
“I’ve been to quite a few camps, spent a lot of time with clubs and open tournaments,” he said. “At the camps, I’m with kids from out of state. I put in a lot of work in the spring.”
Moving up to 113 was inevitable, Caleb Ohl said.
“I’m a pretty big 113, and I was a pretty big 106 last year,” he said. “My body type lets me compete at 113 pretty well. I put on a lot of muscle.”
“Pound for pound, he’s one of the strongest kids at 113,” Boucher said. “Any time you get a kid who is totally committed and has dedicated so much to the process, the results will come. He’s dialed into the process and enjoys the training.”
Caleb Ohl said his on-top skills have improved and made him a better wrestler.
“I think I can ride anyone without a problem,” he said. “And I feel I can turn kids and get them on their back for three points. When I’m down, I feel I can get away from most anyone. Those are important points.”
At Coshocton, Caleb Ohl went 5-0 with two pins and two technical falls. He beat Sparta Highland’s Mike Stewart, who was 16-3 coming in, 5-0 in the final to stay undefeated.
The competition is about to take a step up. NC will compete in the Catholic Invitational Tournament, hosted by Bishop Hartley and featuring teams such as Cleveland St. Ignatius, Cincinnati Moeller and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
“There are seven or eight guys in my weight class who have state experience, and some of them have placed,” Caleb Ohl said. “It’s a great tournament to see where I stand.”
Then there’s the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbird Invitational, which includes 38 teams, most of them Division III.
“It’s like a mini state tournament,” Boucher said. “There are teams from all over Ohio, teams we normally wouldn’t get to see.
“Our schedule enables us to see the caliber of wrestlers we’ll see in the state. To get on the podium, you have to have that kind of competition.”
Getting on the podium is Caleb Ohl’s main focus. That, and maybe joining his brother in the military.
“Being a state qualifier was great, but I think I can do better,” he said.
“I’ve thought about following my brother with the military route. When I was in the eighth grade, I visited Navy with him and kind of found out what it was all about. I’ve been to West Point and really liked it, so it’s something I could see myself doing.”