Despite facing more than his fair share of adversity and sorrow in the second half of the season, Columbus Academy wrestler Josh Pearson persevered and concluded his prep career with his second appearance in the Division III state tournament at Ohio State.
Pearson qualified for state at 220 pounds and went 1-2 to finish 38-10 overall. As a sophomore, he went 0-2 at state at 182.
Pearson had hoped to compete at 182 or 195 this season, but a late-season illness hampered his training. He had a brief hospital stay after being diagnosed with pneumonia and a bacterial infection in his blood before the sectional tournament Feb. 24 at Madison Plains.
"My doctor wasn't too sure about me wrestling, but I couldn't not wrestle. I love it," Pearson said. "I have to move on. I can't sit and drag this out just because I lost (at state). I have to get better. I'm going to wrestle in college. I'll use this as a learning experience."
On March 9 at state, Pearson said he weighed in at 196. He estimates he was outweighed by his three opponents by an average of 20 to 30 pounds.
"I wrestled at 220 because I got sick and then I got locked in at sectional," he said. "I'll probably be wrestling 197 in college."
Pearson also faced heartache away from the mat when his mother, Shari, died Jan. 7 at age 51.
Because of family reasons, Shari's sister, Kimberly Roehrenbeck, and her husband, Mike, took over legal guardianship of Josh when he was about 13 years old.
"They've helped me through everything because I've been with them," Pearson said of the Roehrenbecks.
His mother again had become a part of his life before her death.
"We weren't together for a while and then she got back into our lives," Pearson said. "We were getting closer and closer together. It was sad when everything happened. ... A lot of people wouldn't be (wrestling), but she said I had a future in wrestling, so I had to keep going."
Coach Paul Bukky was impressed with Pearson's ability to overcome hardship.
"He just had so many things pile up on him," Bukky said. "Football then into wrestling to getting that bacterial pneumonia, we didn't even think he'd make it to the sectional let alone to the state tournament."
At state, Pearson opened March 8 with a pin of Bethel-Tate's Bradley Lewis in 3 minutes, 54 seconds. He then lost to Fremont St. Joseph Central Catholic's Noah Price 5-1 and Liberty Center's Caleb Carpenter 8-0 on March 9.
Pearson scored four points as Academy tied for 65th behind champion Genoa Area (113.5) as 96 teams scored.
Another highlight for Pearson was earning his 100th career win during the Kevin Michael Invitational on Jan. 20 at home. He also won the MSL-Ohio Division tournament title at 220 on Feb. 3 at Whitehall.
Pearson earned his state berth by finishing second at district March 2 and 3 at Heath. Also at district, freshman Chris Sugar (126) and senior Angus Soderberg (170) went 1-2 and junior Bobby Diller (132) went 0-2.
Junior Eric Menq qualified at 195 but did not compete because of another school commitment.
Sugar finished the season 24-13, while Soderberg went 23-16, Diller finished 7-17 and Menq went 12-11.
Academy finished 28th (21) at district behind champion Nelsonville-York (175) as 48 teams scored. At sectional, the Vikings finished sixth (81) of 12 teams behind champion North Union (186).
After battling the late-season illness, Pearson finished fourth at sectional, forfeiting the third-place match since he already had secured a district berth.
"I'm happy with all the results that I've had and I'm happy with where I've come from, but I still have room to improve," said Pearson, who has not made his college selection.
The Vikings finished fifth (71) in the five-team MSL-Ohio tournament behind Bexley (195), London (192.5), Whitehall (161) and Grandview (133).
Others eligible to return are juniors Cole Duffy (195/220) and Thomas Jones (160, 27-16), sophomores Grant Hillman (170/182) and Philip Soderberg (heavyweight, 18-18) and freshmen Vassar Barney (132/138), Keiren Gorospe (120, 13-23), Ethan Halpern (120/126, 10-11) and Ethan Stahl (182, 9-9).
Pearson also was a standout on the football field at Academy, and he'll play lacrosse this spring. "He's a tremendous young man who has certainly been through a lot -- too much for someone his age," football coach Robin Miller said.
Boys basketball team falls in district semi
The boys basketball team saw its season end with a 64-56 loss to third-seeded Ready in a Division III district semifinal March 6 at Hamilton Township.
The sixth-seeded Vikings fell behind 31-18 at halftime and could not recover. They finished 20-5 overall.
Junior point guard Dorrian Moultrie led the Vikings with 20 points, followed by junior forward Chris Boyle with 12 and senior forward Addis Boyd with 10.
"It was a great season," coach Jeff Warstler said. "You get a chance to win 20 games in a season and you start the year 15-0, you did something to put you in some elite company as far as the school goes."
Academy opened the postseason with a 59-40 win over 16th-seeded North Union on Feb. 26, followed by a 58-33 win over 12th-seeded Northridge on March 3. Both games were at home.
Moultrie averaged a team-high 10.7 points and was named first-team all-league and third-team all-district. Boyle averaged 9.5 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Boyd averaged 9.1 points and 6.0 rebounds and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Junior forward Hayden Compton averaged 3.9 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Deven Cobb (guard), Dalyn DeCree (forward), Malcolm Klingbeil (forward) and Evan Scott (guard) and sophomore Carter Warstler (guard).
Klingbeil was lost for the season after suffering an ACL injury during the preseason.
Senior guard Herman Moultrie missed the latter part of the season after undergoing right shoulder surgery.
"It's not easy saying goodbye to (our six) seniors," coach Warstler said. "That's the toughest part because things end so abruptly."
Academy went 6-4 in the MSL-Ohio to tie Bexley for third behind co-champions Grandview and Whitehall (both 8-2). Worthington Christian (2-8) and London (0-10) rounded out the standings.
@ThisWeekFrankAt a glance
*Record: 20-5 overall, 6-4 (tied for third) in MSL-Ohio
*Seniors lost: Addis Boyd, Davis Friedman, Karibi Hart, Ryan Mitchell, Herman Moultrie and T.J. Whitman
*Key returnees: Chris Boyle, Hayden Compton, Dalyn DeCree, Dorrian Moultrie and Carter Warstler
*Finishes: Fifth in MSL-Ohio, sixth at sectional, 28th at district, tied for 65th at state
*Seniors lost: Carson Nichols, Josh Pearson and Angus Soderberg
*Key returnees: Bobby Diller, Thomas Jones, Philip Soderberg and Chris Sugar