This moment was exactly why Randy Caris lifted weights all summer, didn’t go out for the football team last fall and decided to jump up two weight classes.
The Eastwood senior stepped on the mat against Clyde senior Chris Moore, the defending Division II state champion at 170 pounds, last Saturday at the state tournament in Columbus. At that point, Moore really never stood a chance.
“I wrestled him in the (OHSAA) team duals and at districts,” Caris said. “It wasn’t anything big. I knew I just had to go out there and wrestle like I did. If I did, I could do it. I also knew it could go either way. It’s wrestling. I just had to wrestle my match and not get caught.”
|Eastwood 152-pound grappler Randy Caris throws down his opponent at the
Division II state meet. (Press photo by Lee Welch/FamilyPhotoGroup.com)
Caris, the lone state qualifier from Eastwood, beat Moore by a 6-0 margin in the match for third place. The victory ended a long journey in Columbus for Caris, who lost his first-round match but battled back for five victories to finish third.
“He was down (after losing early),” Eastwood coach Joe Wyant said. “I kept telling him after every match, ‘you’re good enough to be third.’ I think he started believing it. He wrestled really hard and did a great job. He’s very strong, he’s in very good condition and he’s a competitor – and he doesn’t like to lose. He’s had a great career with us.”
Caris finished with a 57-4 record as a senior, which included a win over Moore at districts when Moore was disqualified for stalling. Caris also took second at the sectional tournament, losing to Oak Harbor’s Luke Cramer, 2-1, in the championship match. Cramer won the state title at 170 last weekend. He has been selected to this year’s Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Honor Roll.
Last weekend marked the first state tournament appearance for Caris, 18, who amassed 175 career wins for the Eagles, including 99 by pin. He was a 152-pounder as a junior, but moved up two weight classes this season, he said, “because it just worked out better for me.”
“Back when I was at 152 my normal body weight was 165,” he said. “Wrestling 170 this year, my normal body weight was 180 and it was an easier cut and it just worked for me this year.”
Caris had a tough road at the district tournament at Bowling Green, getting pinned in a first-round match despite building a 7-0 lead. He finished third.
“I was worried a little bit,” Caris said. “I knew I had to wrestle back and I could still make it back and get out. I was pretty disappointed, but I knew state was where it was really going to matter. As long as I got out of districts, that (loss) was OK.”
Caris lost to Wyatt Running of Clarksville Clinton-Massie, 5-4, in the first match at the state tournament.
“I felt like the match didn’t go my way too much,’ Caris said. “I honestly should have won that one. It just turned out in his favor. He got up (in points) and started to lay back and stall. I just kept pounding him and the refs didn’t call him for stalling. Part of it might have been the fact it was my first time down there and it might have gotten to me a little.”
Caris earned a 9-1 major decision over Mark Barrow of New Philadelphia in the second round, then got a 15-0 technical fall against Matt Dennis of Uhrichsville Claymont in the next round. Caris faced Tyler Maclellan of Cuyahoga Falls CVCA in the consolation quarterfinals and walked away with a 4-0 victory. He then crushed Brandon James of Ravenna Southeast, 13-6, in the consolation semis, setting up the match against Moore for third place.
“I was going out there and doing what I do, doing what I was trained to do,” Caris said. “I used whatever I could to my advantage and I looked to score. I’ve got a lot of defense and I can do just about every position where a kid has the advantage. I can roll out of it and take control and look for a way to score out of it.”
Caris said placing third was a good way to go out as a senior.
“I was happy,” he said. “I know I could have potentially won the whole thing, but I was happy to be on the podium and finish out the season like that.”