Nate Ohl’s college career has been put on hold.
It certainly was not his decision, but the body had spoken. Ohl, a Newark Catholic graduate and member of the Army wrestling team, was given a year of medical leave because of injuries.
Ohl has found a silver lining. With Ohl back home in Newark, he assisted with the NC wrestling program, and he had a front-row seat for his younger brother Caleb’s exploits.
“I really enjoyed it a lot,” Nate Ohl said. “I feel like I helped him out. I hope I helped him out.”
Caleb Ohl finished off a stellar senior season Saturday. He was the Licking County League, sectional and district champion. Only twice did he not wrestle for a tournament championship this season: at the Catholic Invitational Tournament in January and this past weekend at Division III state tournament, where he placed fifth at 126 pounds.
Caleb Ohl, whose Twitter handle ironically is @thebiggestohl, is happy to have big brother by his side. When he earlier beat defending state champion Jarred Ganger, of Covington, then took him the distance in a state semifinal, it was Nate who Caleb credited for being his biggest influence.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without him,” Caleb Ohl said. “Every day in practice he is beating on me. He is stronger and a better athlete. I had to adapt or else I was going to get my butt kicked. I wasn’t having that. If you get put in a situation like that, you have no choice but to adapt.”
As Nate Ohl sat mat side at Ohio State’s Value City Arena this weekend, it would have been easy for his mind to stray or to ask: “What if?”
As Caleb Ohl was celebrating his first state tournament berth two seasons ago, Nate Ohl was coming to grips with what was a career of heartbreak. He fell a win short of the state tournament two consecutive seasons.
Nate Ohl hopes he was an example. He hopes any slight missteps in preparation or training were pitfalls his brother could identify and avoid.
“I guess you could see the success that he’s had has rubbed off pretty well on me,” Caleb Ohl said. “I think that shows pretty well in my accomplishments.”
That is why Nate Ohl was back in the wrestling room at NC this winter. That is why he was rolling around on the mat before meets and during breaks. That is why he was on the edge of his seat as Caleb Ohl pursued his dream of a state title.
Nate Ohl never stood on the podium at the state tournament. But as Caleb Ohl did for the second conseuctive year Saturday, Nate Ohl could feel good big brother provided a guiding light.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Nate Ohl said.