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Rangers’ state runner-up grappler heads ‘down under’

Time is of the essence for Northwood junior Devon Dunbar.

Dunbar, you may recall, qualified for the Division III state wrestling tournament in Columbus in March and lost his first-round match in overtime. What the 126-pounder went on to accomplish is relatively uncommon at such a high-level tournament.

Dunbar came back to win his final five matches to earn a third-place medal and his 100th career victory (100-21). His effort was noted by International Sports Specialists, Inc., which sponsors wrestling tournaments in Australia and New Zealand.

Dunbar
Northwood wrestler Devon Dunbar(left) takes down an opponent during the district meet at the Stroh Center. (Press file photo by Doug Karns/KateriSchools.org

ISSI sent Dunbar a letter on March 20, inviting him to be one of 128 wrestlers from the United States to represent Team USA at the 16th Annual Down Under Sports Wrestling Meet. Now, all Dunbar, 17, has to do is raise more than $6,000 in order to compete in Australia and New Zeland from June 28 through July 6.

“I was really excited.” Dunbar said of receiving the invitation. “I didn’t really know what it was at first. I started reading it and then I called them and they explained it. I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They sent me fundraising information and I’ve been looking into that. I was just shocked and excited.”

Dunbar said he will represent Ohio on the 2014 North Central Conference Wrestling Team.

“They (Down Under Sports) sent me a letter and I called them to tell them I was interested,” Dunbar said. “They got in a video chat with me and talked with my parents about fundraising.”

Team USA will compete against wrestlers from Australia during the team’s visit June 28 to July 3 in Queensland, Australia. The teams will compete in an Australian Beach Wrestling Tournament, held at Surfers Paradise Beach.

“I’ve wrestled in beach tournaments before, in Michigan maybe two years ago,” Dunbar said. “You’re in a big circle and it’s a mixture of Sumo. If you push them out, you get one point. You can’t have your face in the sand for long. It’s mainly upper body. When you’re on the ground, they put you back up. It’s pretty much like wrestling, only in the sand. It was really hot in Michigan and I got sunburned, and the water was really cold.”

Team USA will then fly to Auckland, New Zealand, to compete in a tournament July 3-6, followed by a trip to Hawaii from July 6-9 for what Dunbar called a team “vacation.”

“Down Under Sports gave me a sponsorship letter to hand out to people,” Dunbar said, adding that every sponsor is entered into a raffle for a chance to go to Australia to watch the beach tournament or opt for a five-day ocean cruise for two people.

“People can go online to downundersports.com to donate,” Dunbar said. “Every time you donate, you get put into the drawing.”

Devon’s mother, Jenni, and his father, Bill, the head wrestling coach at Northwood, are helping Devon raise money.

“He got this opportunity and being a (high school) junior, this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Jenni said. “We’re trying to give him this opportunity. You can’t do this again. The places he’s going to see … He can get a chance to see the Great Barrier Reef. We’ve just been so busy. We have four kids and with them all involved with school and sports, it’s been so busy.

“Devon is getting out and talking to local business. They (wrestlers) can raise funds up until the day they go. Any money they raise that is above what they need to go, that comes back to them for spending money, or it can pay for one of the parents to go.”

Jenni admitted that she’s “a little scared” about Devon flying overseas without a family member. Devon is the oldest of the Jenny and Bill’s four children.

“Devon wants to move away and go to school,” Jenni said. “He’s always going to be my baby, but I have to let him soar sometime. He’s very well behaved, very mature for his age. Wrestling is his sport. He adores it; he loves. it. He’s trained very hard to get where he is. This sport is going to take him places.”

Literally.

For more information, contact Jenni or Bill Cannon 419-490-3220 or 419-377-5313.

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