With his first place finish at 170 pounds at the Division II state wrestling meet, Luke Cramer became the 22nd state wrestling champion in Oak Harbor’s school history.
He joined the ranks of the school’s wrestling elite and is this year’s Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Most Outstanding Wrestler, which will earn him a plaque from the Oregon business.
“It feels great,” Cramer said. “It's everything I dreamed of. All year long, I've been working hard and doing everything right. And it was definitely nice having everybody saying congrats. I had a smile on my face all day.”
None of this is a surprise to anyone.
After finished fourth at 138 last year, it was Cramer's hope that he would win a state title this time around. He not only achieved his goal, but did so in convincing fashion by soundly defeating every opponent along the way.
By being put on top of the All-Press Wrestling Honor Roll, he heads a list of wrestlers chosen from 10 area schools. To be selected to the honor roll, a wrestler must win a league, sectional, or district championship or qualify for the state tournament. Cramer did more than qualify for state.
It's rare that things ever go according to plan, but that's generally how this season has gone for Cramer. He was absolutely dominant at the state meet, winning one of his matches via the pin, and the other three by a combined score of 34-5.
After defeating Eaton's Tyler Claybaker by major decision, 12-0, in the first round, he pinned Matt Dennis of Uhrichsville Claymont in 3:36 before defeating St. Paris Graham's Lane Thomas, 6-1, to advance to the finals. From there, Cramer took care of Clarksville Clinton-Massie's Wyatt Running, winning by major decision, 16-4, to claim the title.
Cramer finished with an impeccable 42-5 record, won sectional and district titles and was the Sandusky Bay Conference champion. Cramer also won the SBC Duals, the Oak Harbor Invite, finished second at the Medina Invite, third at the Perrysburg Invite and eighth at the Iron Man Competition in Cuyahoga Falls, one of the nation's premiere tournaments.
In the district tournament, Cramer pinned his first two opponents before defeating reining state champion Chris Moore of Clyde, 6-0, in the semifinals, and Bryan's Brock Nagel by technical fall, 17-2, to finish first.
Along with Cramer's victory at 170, Oak Harbor senior Jared Chambers came in fifth at 152 and sophomore T.J. Lawrence was eighth in the heavyweight division (285), leading the Rockets to a seventh place finish in D-II with 44 points. Senior Alec Bowlick fell just short of placing at 132.
“It was nice to see the guys come through in the pressure situations,” Rocket veteran coach George Bergman said. “It was a special time.”
In addition to finishing seventh, the Rockets finished in the top five for the fifth consecutive season (2007-11), coming in third, second, fifth, second and third, respectively.
Cramer says by winning the state title he was to “one-up” his brother, Jake, a 2011 Oak Harbor graduate who finished fifth at 140 in 2010 and second at 171 in '11, losing a heartbreaker, 5-4, in the finals. Luke credits Jake as well as their father, Jim, with helping him to instill confidence. Jake is currently a sophomore at Tiffin University and recently qualified for the NCAA D-II Championships.
|Luke Cramer is awarded his state championship after a
16-4 major decision in the final. (Photo courtesy of Joe
Maiorana/Impact Action Sports Photography/
“My dad was probably the biggest influence on me,” Cramer said. “He definitely encouraged me. And my brother helped me out, too, working on some stuff. He probably knows more than me. After junior high, my brother and I would work out over the summer and we put our main focus on wrestling.”
Cramer also credits Oak Harbor wrestlers from the past — guys like Alex Bergman, Tyler Hackworth, Konnor Witt and Ian Miller with coming back and helping current Rockets learn the tricks of the trade.
“When Christmas break comes around,” Cramer said, “those guys come back and come into the wrestling room and help with the little things and wrestle and give me some different competition. To be able to have our wrestlers in the past years come back is important.”
Coach Bergman, who in 20 years has won seven league titles and helped to build one of Ohio's best wrestling programs, says Cramer brings leadership traits to the table.
“He was our only state placer coming back last year and was our leader,” Bergman said. “He and Jared (Chambers) did a very nice job leading our team — 19 of our 25 guys were freshmen or sophomores. (Cramer) leads by example and he's not afraid to verbalize it. He's a great kid.
“Luke had a nice offseason that set him up,” Bergman continued. “His offseason work was a big reason for his success. He paid the price (with the shoulder injury). He also competed at Super 32 (one of the nation's biggest events) and went 3-2.
“Beating Chris Moore at SBC Duals put the bulls-eye on him. He took it the right way and kept working. He was able to be Moore at districts. We felt confident at state, but state titles are so tough to come by. Luke wrestled really well and took care of business. I think that, because of all the tournaments he's been in during his life and the experience he had, he didn't get tentative. He didn't freeze up.”
Cramer can now turn his focus on college. He’s narrowed down his choices to the University of Findlay, Ashland University and Kent State University and is planning on majoring in the medical field, possibly nursing.