Alex Marcum is not supposed to be sitting in the bleachers — not this weekend.
The Granville senior was supposed to be on the mat. The Division II district tournament at Heath was supposed to be his final step to the state tournament. Instead, his final opportunity was done before it started.
Marcum tore the UCL in his right elbow in two places while making a tackle during Week 10 of the football season. In the blink of an eye, his final wrestling season was gone.
“It is a commitment and a desire for me to come,” Marcum said. “The bad thing is it makes me sad because I can’t wrestle, so that kind of brings me down a little bit.
“My weight class wouldn’t have been that easy this year, but I would have had a good shot. Unfortunately, things don’t always happen the way you want.”
Despite knowing he would not step on a mat this season, Marcum was voted to captain a young, but talented, Granville team. Marcum promised to stick with the Blue Aces every step of the bittersweet way.
Marcum has been to every meet this season — sometimes coaching, sometimes filming, always cheering. While some seniors would have drifted away, Marcum is as involved with Granville as ever.
“I just love wrestling. I can’t keep myself away from it,” said Marcum, who has been cleared to play baseball this spring. “When they wanted me to go sit in the chair, it was something new, and I loved it. It was a heartwarming feeling. I feel like I could do it later on in my life and be completely thrilled with that.”
In 2012, Marcum won the Mid-State League-Ohio Division and sectional titles at 152 pounds. He then won two matches at the district.
Marcum has been chomping at the bit so much he asked his physical therapist if there was some way — any way — he could brace the elbow and compete for the Blue Aces in the Ohio High School Athletic Association dual team tournament. He has — admittedly against doctor’s orders — slipped onto the mat during practice to demonstrate a move.
“I am not that experienced as a wrestler, and Alex has years under his belt,” said junior Will Navin, who competes at 160. “He and (Dain Steffeny) are like my rocks for staying mentally focused.”
After winning his two preliminary matches Friday, Navin had himself in position to reach his first state tournament.
“I know Alex wants this for me,” Navin said Friday. “I know he wants to be there with me, and I feel like if I go to state, he can kind of experience it second-hand. He deserves it first-hand.”
Saturday was not without adversity. The Blue Aces dropped out of the consolation rounds one by one. Navin then lost his semifinal match to a Cambridge opponent he had beaten earlier in the season.
About an hour later, Navin entered his do-or-die match with Marcum on the gym floor beside the mat. Navin avenged a loss two weeks before to Whitehall’s Noah Young with a 4-3 victory and punched his ticket to the state meet. He then shared a quick embrace with Marcum in the stands afterward.
“Before the match, I was kind of mentally breaking down and freaking out,” Navin said. “Alex sat me down and said, ‘I know you are better than this kid, and I know you will win this.'”