Ready High School senior Dalton Scott experienced one of the biggest disappointments of his wrestling career when he lost both of his matches in the Division III state tournament last Feb. 28 at Ohio State.
As always had been the case -- whether he had lost or was celebrating a victory during a prep career in which he since has surpassed 100 wins -- one of the first people to greet him was his sister, Brieonna Scott.
Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, Dalton's 3-1 loss to Massillon Tuslaw's Chance Marthey was the last match Brieonna would see her brother wrestle.
Brieonna was 9 years old when she lost a near lifelong battle with cancer May 16.
"As soon as I got off the mat I was mad, but she gave me a big hug," said Dalton, whose family lives on the west side of Columbus. "We took her in (to the doctor shortly) after the state tournament. She beat (cancer) twice before that, but this round was just too much for her."
Dalton, who opened last year's state tournament with a 6-4 loss to Liberty Center's Zach Niner at 138 pounds, was 16-7 at 138 and 145 before the Silver Knights competed Jan. 25 in the Cruiser Invitational at Groveport.
His return this winter helped the Knights double their total number of wrestlers from five at last season's end to 10 as they prepare for the CCL tournament Saturday, Feb. 1, at St. Charles.
Dalton, who won the league title at 119 as a freshman and at 138 a year ago, also went 0-2 at state as a sophomore while competing at 120.
Despite those years of success, losing his sister made him think twice about returning to the team, before ultimately believing it would be what she wanted.
Getting one last chance at a state title also factored into his decision to come back.
"Going out (at state) those years is what's driving me, and right after the season (losing) my little sister to cancer," Dalton said.
"At first I wasn't sure I wanted to (wrestle this season), but it meant so much to her and I wanted to make her proud. She was always rooting for everybody. She'd come home from tournaments with a lost voice."
Dalton, who had a career record of 104-43 before Jan. 25, hasn't had it easy on the mat this season.
He won eight of his first nine matches but suffered bruised ribs Dec. 11. He was expected to return for a quad meet Dec. 18, but was out sick.
He didn't place in the Brecksville Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29 and 30 at Brecksville-Broadview Heights, but took fifth at 145 on Jan. 4 in the Pioneer Invitational at Olentangy Orange.
On Jan. 18 and 19, Dalton went 2-2 at 138 to help Ready place ninth (96) behind champion Cincinnati Moeller (239.5) in the 30-team Catholic Invitational Tournament at Cleveland State.
As a way to commemorate his sister, each Ready wrestler was given a warm-up jacket at the beginning of the season that features the initials BLS for Brieonna Lynne Scott on the shoulder.
Dalton's mother, Mary Scott, and wrestler Patrik Garren's mother, Laura Garren, were behind the idea.
"His sister had always been an inspiration to him," coach James Yonushonis said. "Her cheering for him pushed him."
Brieonna was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, also known as AML, when she was about 1 year old. The disease is considered a cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells.
According to her father, David Scott, she received a bone marrow transplant when she was about 6.
He admires how his son has battled through the emotions of losing his sister.
"I'm very proud of (Dalton)," David said. "I'm his biggest fan. It gets rough for him at times, but he keeps it together. (His sister) had a smile that could light up the room. There wasn't a picture of her where she's not smiling, and she loved (Dalton). Dalton was her buddy.
"I think in some ways it's kind of hard for him to be out there because she was always there at the meets. He'd be wrestling and when he'd get up on the podium to get his awards, instead of her being in the stands with us, she'd be down there with him."
Dalton and Patrik Garren were among 15 freshmen who came out for the program for the 2010-11 season. That duo, along with classmates Will Martello, Steven Pozz and Patrick Stover, are in their fourth seasons on the team.
"Dalton's kind of dedicated his season to (Brieonna) and so has the wrestling team," David said. "Basically all of (this year's) seniors were pallbearers (at Brieonna's funeral)."
In addition to cheering on her son's teammate over the years, Laura Garren worked with Brieonna as a nurse in the pediatric cancer department at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
"I've been wrestling with Dalton since I was about 5, and it's definitely been difficult for him," Patrik Garren said.
"Dalton's a very good teammate, and I think the best thing for him has been getting his mind off of it. The injury he had early in the season kept him out for a while, but he's still focusing on placing at state."