By Garth Shanklin
They say the waiting is the hardest part.
Williamsburg senior Brian Stears had to wait another year before getting another shot at a state title, after finishing fourth in the 285-pound class in 2017. What’s a few hours more?
With fans in Columbus and back home anxiously awaiting the results, Stears made sure the wait was worth it. The senior defeated Martin Ferry’s Hunter Bodkin 3-2, becoming the first Wildcat in school history to win an individual wrestling title and the first Clermont County winner since Goshen’s Chaz Gresham won in 2012.
Not only was the title Williamsburg’s first-ever individual wrestling title, the championship win marked the first individual championship for a male athlete at the school in any sport.
It wasn’t an easy win. Stears and Bodkin battled to a scoreless first period, with Stears choosing to take the lower position in the second round. He escaped easily, and held a 1-0 lead after the second period.
The script flipped in the third period. With Bodkin choosing the lower position, Stears surrendered a quick escape to tie the match at one.
The match stayed tied through the first one minute overtime period, before Stears scored two points in the next 30 second block. He was awarded one point on a stalling penalty, and scored a crucial second point on an escape.
Bodkin escaped in the second extra period, but he ran out of time.
Stears finished the regular season a perfect 36-0.
For more on Brian Stears’ historic victory, pick up a copy of the March 15 edition of The Clermont Sun.