Isaiah Young had just one goal in mind in 2013.
It is not too different than most anybody who steps on the mat. The Heath junior still is striving for it.
“My goal was to go to state, and that is all I wanted to do. I was this close,” Young said. “This year, I am just going to work a lot harder.”
Young could not have come much closer without earning a bid to the Division III state tournament in 2013. He entered the district 37-11. He almost survived a loaded 106-pound class that also included Northridge’s Jake Adkins.
Young won his first two matches to reach a semifinal. He lost 7-5 to Martins Ferry’s Theodore Zoumpolidis there and to Crooksville’s Jordan Burkholder 5-3 in his do-or-die match. Another takedown or near fall in either could have kept his season alive.
“It just makes me want to drive harder to get there,” Young said. “Against the Martins Ferry kid, he was tall and lanky and he was really difficult to wrestle just because I am shorter. I never wanted something so much in my whole life. I wanted it so bad and when I didn’t get it, it made my motivation that much more.”
Young is back on the mat Saturday in the Bulldogs’ annual Robin Drumm Invitational. It has been a tough season for Heath because of low numbers and inexperience. Young, however, could give the Bulldogs a state placer for the sixth time in seven seasons.
Young was unbeaten until this past Saturday when he finished sixth at the Licking Heights Invitational. The tournament was filled with Division I and II schools, and it was good for Young. He lost to wrestlers from Westerville North, Licking Heights and Hamilton Township.
“I got more mat time, and that is really what I need because this year I haven’t gotten a lot of competition,” Young said. “I haven’t been to any big tournaments, so this was the first one I had been to. They said this weight class was the hardest one of the tournament.”
Saturday’s event is in memory of Robin Drumm, who was instrumental in helping Roger Morgan and Jerome Hunt get the Heath program started in 2001. Drumm’s son Travis was a part of a class of wrestlers that put the program on the map at the state level.
Hunt, who replaced Morgan as head coach this year, said this year’s team is constantly reminded of Robin Drumm’s philosophies. At Heights, Rahil Khaliq had one victory at 145 and Tristan McKee — who won just two matches a year ago — earned his fifth of this season at 152.
The adversity they have endured on the mat is not different than the challenges the coaches found in starting a varsity program.
“Since we started the program, we have had a bunch of kids whose records haven’t been any good,” Hunt said. “They have kept it up and kept it up, and they got better and better. We still have the same ones that are coming out, and that shows they want to do it. All we can do is keep driving it in there and keep teaching them.”