Oak Harbor wrestling coach George Bergman has lots of nice things to say about
Drew Stone as a wrestler, but there is a lot more to the Rockets' 125-pound senior than merely suiting up in a singlet and headgear.
"He's full of life," Bergman said. "He's always up to something. He's a character and he has a lot of fun. He's always in the middle of things. When things are getting stirred up, you know Drew and somebody else are behind it. He's a fun kid to be around. He's definitely a social butterfly."
For his part, Stone doesn't mind being known for being, well, a bit of a character and a prankster.
"I'd probably say that's true," he said. "Me and Konnor (Witt, Oak Harbor's 152-pounder) are usually up to something. We definitely like to pull each other's chain."
Like in the beginning of this school year, when Stone and Witt were involved in printing out a not-so-flattering picture of Oak Harbor wrestling coaches Bergman, Aaron Bomer and Bill Scherf.
"It was during a computer class and we altered their faces and their bodies and made them look funny," Stone said. "It was funny. They actually posted the picture in the (wrestling) room. We're always picking on everyone, messing with them. Everyone is always so caught up in wrestling and cutting weight and working hard, sometimes you just need to enjoy it.
"You may not realize it now, but it's all in fun and this should be the ‘funnest’ time of your life."
Stone is having fun — and success — on the mat.
He is 11-3 with two pins and two technical falls this season after moving up a weight class, from 119 pounds to 125. Stone said his normal body weight is between 135-140.
"I got bigger in the offseason with lifting," he said. "I want to see how I do. I'm probably going to be a 125-pounder next year in college, so this is a perfect fit, really."
In November, Stone signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Ohio State next fall. His brother, Josh, is a student there along with former Oak Harbor wrestling teammates Cody Magrum, a redshirt freshman with the Buckeyes, and sophomore Kirk Tank, a transfer from Michigan State who is no longer wrestling.
Drew said he wants to study to become a veterinarian, like his dad, Mike. But, first things first.
"I feel like I'm at a position where no one should be able to beat me right now," Stone said. "If I don't win state, it's a disappointment right now."
He came close to doing just that last season when, as a 119-pounder, he was beaten 1-0 by Walsh Jesuit's Johnni DiJulius in the state championship match. DiJulius secured the title by riding out Stone for the final two minutes of the match.
"I remember we went on our feet and I was getting after him," Stone recalled. "I remember getting on the bottom and scrambling the last 15 seconds and almost getting out. We went in a big flurry and I gave it my best, but I couldn't get out. He was holding onto my ankles.
"I think about it a lot. Being a senior this year, no one should be able to hold me down. It's a mind game. I've worked a lot this year on getting out in practice, that no one's going to hold me down. I've done a pretty good job in matches. You have to get out from the bottom. I think I'm mentally there now."
Bergman said Stone wasn't even projected to finish in the top five at last year's state tournament, yet he had an outstanding tournament. Stone had two pins at state and finished with a 39-3 record.
"In the semifinals, he faced a returning state runner-up who had also taken third at state," said Bergman, referring to James Inghram of Hunting Valley University School. "Drew beat him (9-7) and that was a big win to get to the finals.
"The guy in the finals was also a returning state runner-up. When Drew came off the mat, a part of him might have been saying, 'Yes, I lost 1-0, but I had a great state tournament.' I don't think he was devastated. This year his goals are higher because he has been a runner-up previously."
Stone, who has a 3.8 GPA, has boosted his career record to 114-25. He was 30-9 as a freshman at 103 pounds and had a 34-10 mark at 112 as a sophomore.
Stone's signature move is the "Russian tie," which he perfected with the help of three-time state champion Magrum in the summer of 2008. Stone was disappointed with his 10 losses as a sophomore, so he went to Magrum for guidance.
"I was with Cody 24/7 that summer, just wrestling," Stone said. "I give him a lot of credit for taking me under his wing and showing me what to do. He knew how to get it done, being a three-time state champ. I give him credit for helping me get state runner-up."
Bergman said the Russian tie is usually done by heavyweights, but he added that Stone is "very good on his feet and real good with the Russian tie."
"That's his signature tie-up," the coach said. "Most wrestlers when they shoot, they hit their knee on the mat and get in the (opponents') legs. He'll be on his feet still and get on their legs. He has a unique style for his weight class. It evolved from just learning wrestling and it fit in with his style."
Said Stone, "If I can't get their leg, I'm still in good position because my Russian tie isn't a risky move. It's high-percentage. If I miss my shot, I'm still in my stance."
With Stone's help, the Rockets are having an outstanding season.