The Press Newspaper
Konner Witt has his eyes on the prize this weekend at the Division II state
wrestling tournament in Columbus.
"If I wrestle the way I've been wrestling all year, I should do well," the Oak Harbor junior said. "I think I can take care of everybody in my bracket. It's about who wants it more, and I want it pretty bad this year. We've been in the best tournaments you can get in and we practice hard and train hard, so anything is possible if you put your mind to it."
Witt, who competed at 160 pounds most of the season, takes a 45-3 record into the state tournament at the Schottenstein Center. Witt will compete at 152 pounds where three wrestlers, including two-time state champion Harrison Hightower of University School, qualified for this year's tournament.
Oak Harbor coach George Bergman said it made more sense for Witt to compete at 152 in Columbus rather than at 160.
"Konner went 152 at the Medina tournament and went 160 for the Ironman and ended up sixth, and those top six guys were all from Ohio, most of them in Division I," Bergman said. "In Division II, there are two very, very good guys at 160. At 152, there's a two-time state champ so we're going to a weight class where there is one outstanding guy instead of two outstanding guys."
Witt hasn't tasted defeat since losing twice to Cincinnati Moeller senior Pierce Harger at the Ironman on Dec. 11-12. Harger (35-3) is a three-time state placer in Division I.
But if Witt exudes a ton of confidence heading into the state tournament, there is good reason.
Last month he won the 160-pound title at the Sandusky Bay Conference tournament - leading the Rockets to their fourth straight SBC championship - and then won the 152-pound title at the sectional and district tournaments.
Witt said competing at 160 all season probably won't give him an advantage when he moves down a weight class at the state tournament. Witt is ranked No. 3 at 152 in the Brakeman Report.
"The kids aren't as strong and as big to deal with (at 152)," Witt said, "but I don't think it will make that much difference at state because I'm cutting weight and they're cutting weight. It's just going to come down to wrestling."
Witt, who has a 116-24 career record, has 17 pins this season to go along with 20 wins by technical fall. His 21 career tech falls broke the school record of 20, which was held by Paul Bergman. The former Rockets standout, now an assistant coach, graduated in 2002.
"Paul helps me out a lot," Witt said. "I told him I was sorry for breaking his record. He acted like he didn't really care but I think he did, deep down inside. He just smiled at me and was laughing about it. It's all good. He just wants the best for us."
Witt, 18, is following in the footsteps of his brothers, Kory, 24, and Keith, 20. Kory wrestled and played football and baseball at Oak Harbor, and Keith is third on the school's all-time list with 151 career wrestling victories.
"Konner grew up with that (background), so it's an asset," George Bergman said. "It hasn't in any way way been a detriment to him. They (Konner and Keith) don't have the same style, but they're both very good. Konner has outstanding defense and a hellacious bar arm, and he's a supreme competitor. He hates to lose."
Konner, who has a 3.92 GPA, nearly placed at 140 pounds at last year's state tournament, and he was a state qualifier as a freshman at 125.
"This year," Bergman said, "he's taken his game to a whole new level."
Keith Witt, who was known as the "Silent Assassin" at Oak Harbor, won a state title at 171 pounds in 2008. He placed fifth at 160 in 2007 and was seventh at 152 in 2006. Keith is a redshirt freshman at Kent State, where he is 22-11 this season at 174 pounds.
"Keith was a brawler, just a tough, hard-nosed individual who loved to mix it up," Bergman said. "He didn't say a lot. Konner, you know exactly what he's thinking. He's more verbal. Keith wouldn't say anything, but he's tough as nails. Konner is more outgoing."
Konner said he and his brothers remain very close.
"My brothers are like my best friends," he said. "Usually whenever we can hang out, we try to get together. I go to Kent to see Keith and he comes up here and we usually wrestle and screw around. We're real tight."
Konner's top priority is to become the next wrestler in the Witt family to stand atop the awards podium in Columbus.
"The last two years I fell short of placing at state, so this year I'm not going to risk it," he said. "I'm just going to go all out this year. I changed on my feet. I used to be more top and bottom and turn people real good. At state, you can't turn everybody. This year, if I could take people down, that's what I relied on. I have a more well-rounded game.
"I wanted the tech-fall record. It just seemed like the easiest one to get and I knew it would help me in the long run. Now, I'm not concerned with tech falls. I'm concerned with winning."
Also wrestling for Oak Harbor at the state tournament will be junior Tyler Hackworth (119), senior Drew Stone (125), junior Jake Cramer (140), junior Ian Miller (145) and seniors Mike Mallernee (171) and Zach Sandwisch (285).