Northwood senior wrestler Brandon Kretz got all the motivation he needed for this season during last year’s Division III sectional tournament.
Kretz, who as a sophomore was one win away from advancing to the state tournament, suddenly lost his desire after losing his first match at sectionals last winter. He lost his second match and was ousted from the tournament.
“I had high hopes of going to state,” said Kretz, 17. “I definitely wasn’t in the right mindset after I lost my first match at sectionals. I was just so mad at the time, I just gave up on myself. My second match, I got down 5-3 or 5-4 and I was like, ‘whatever. I’ll come back next season.’ Now, that eats at me and I’m not going to let that happen again.”
Second-year Rangers coach Bill Cannon, whose team will compete at the D-III sectional this Friday and Saturday at Elmwood, shouldered some of the blame for Kretz’s disappointing finish to the 2011-12 season.
“He had a bad run of things, and that had a lot to do with me,” Cannon said. “It was my first year there (on varsity) and he and I butted heads a little bit. He was kind of acting out and wasn’t all there.”
Cannon said he’s seen a different Kretz this season.
“This is his last chance,” the coach said. “That (sectional tourney) motivated him tremendously, and his attitude from last year to this year changed 110 percent. He’s a leader in the (practice) room. He works hard at things he probably wouldn’t have worked hard at last year. He pushes himself and he pushes the younger kids.”
Kretz has had an outstanding senior season. He heads into sectionals with a 29-5 record at 126 pounds, and he became a four-time Ohio Wrestling League champion on Feb. 1 at the OWL tournament at Northwood. He is just the second wrestler in history to win four OWL tournament titles.
“He’s real tough, real strong,” Cannon said. “He’s got a strong will. He’s a strong 126-pounder and he’s real good on his feet and good at controlling the ties and putting people in bad positions. Now that he’s got his head together… he’s always been capable of this.”
Kretz, who holds the school record for career pins, with 65 (he has 15 this season), was named the most valuable wrestler at the OWL tournament.
“It’s definitely everybody’s goal to be a champion in every tourney you wrestle in,” Kretz said. “To be a four-time league champion was special to me.”
Kretz earned his 100th career victory with a 9-8 decision over an opponent from Tiffin Columbian at the Maumee Bay Classic.
“It was definitely a goal I had this year,” he said of his 100th win. “I knew I was close going into this season, it was just a question of when I was going to get it. I was just excited that I got to share the moment with my family.”
Kretz, who has a 3.7 GPA, said he still has a lot of work to do. He said his goal is to learn something from each of his five losses this season and try not to make the same mistakes again. He certainly doesn’t plan to have a letdown this weekend.
“I’ve had a pretty good season wrestling-wise,” Kretz said. “I definitely could use improvement. Everybody can improve. I have those five losses, so I have to improve and get down to state and place.”