When Peyton Geary moved to Fremont from Pennsylvania in January of his freshman year, wrestling on the mat came easy to him.
It was grappling on his feet, where he needed work.
“Peyton had the basics down, he just had to fine tune some stuff,” Little Giants coach Mike Mezinger said. “In Pennsylvania, there’s a lot more mat wrestling going on. We had to get him to be able to wrestle on his feet better.
“The good thing about Peyton, though, is he’s very coachable. You tell him what he’s doing wrong, he’ll listen and correct it.”
Geary went 20-8 and earned a Greater Buckeye Conference title at 152 pounds as a freshman, coming one match away from going to state. As a sophomore at the same weight class, he was 34-14 and earned honorable mention Three Rivers Athletic Conference honors after taking third at the league tournament. But, like the year before, his season ended at districts.
That all changed this past season when Geary went 36-11, won a Division I sectional title at 152 and qualified to state with a fourth-place finish at the Cleveland State District. He didn’t go on to place like his mat partner, 145-pounder Trey Grine, who took fourth. However, Geary pulled a first round surprise when he scored a 4-2 upset over Centerville’s Alexander Bair — the champion of the Fairfield District — for his final win of the season.
“I can’t even put into words what it meant to make it to state,” Geary said. “Me and Trey Grine were drill partners all of last season and we pushed ourselves hard every day in the wrestling room to reach new levels.
“But seeing that I was going to be in the top four at the district tournament was definitely one of those moments I won’t forget.”
Others took notice, too.
On Monday, Geary announced he’ll wrestle next year at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, W.Va. The Cardinals are a brand new Division II wrestling program coached by Sean Doyle.
“I love the coach (Doyle) and I loved the school when I went down and visited,” said Geary. “I can’t wait to be there and help them continue to build up the program.”
That’s a task Mezinger doesn’t see being an issue.
“He’s only going to get better at the college level,” Mezinger said. “That coach is getting a very nice young adult. He’s a great athlete and a great student.”
Mezinger plans to wrestle Geary at 160 this season.
“I think that weight change is only going to better me as a wrestler,” Geary said. “I decided not to play football this year and I’ve been in the weight room ever since the end of the wrestling season. I think all that added muscle is going to help me out a lot more.
“Plus, I’ll actually be able to eat this year. I had to watch what I ate in the past at 152.”
Geary plans to major in psychology. He’ll have 49 credits from Terra Community College he’ll be able to transfer over to his college studies.
“That’ll allow me to come into college a year ahead of schedule, and possibly, go for my masters while I’m still wrestling,” Geary said.
As for this season, placing at state is the ultimate goal.
“Definitely,” Geary said. “I see myself as one of the top guys in Ohio. I see good things for me and my teammates this winter.”