The road to the Division III state wrestling tournament had plenty of obstacles for Delaware Christian School freshman Josh Proper.
"There are pros and cons of the entire situation," he said. "I love the school, but it is tough because we only have two guys wrestling."
Proper went 0-2 at 106 pounds at state, which was held March 8-10 at Ohio State. He was pinned in 1 minute, 20 seconds by Covington's Kellan Anderson in his opening match and then lost 13-4 to Oak Harbor's Tyler Davis to finish the season 30-11.
Jamie Marquis has been Delaware Christian's coach for seven years, although the Eagles did not have any wrestlers last season.
"As long as we have some kids who are interested in competing, I will coach them and do everything I can for them," Marquis said. "Josh is our first state qualifier and we're so proud of him and so excited to have him continue in the sport here. He's got a bright future."
Proper said some of the disadvantages of being part of a small program include training and social activities.
"Our other wrestler (freshman Ben Chesnes) is a 182-pounder," Proper said. "So I don't have a training partner. We both drill with (Marquis). I will train with him and Ben will be lifting and running and then we will switch.
"It's hard work on (Marquis), but he pushes me because he's bigger, stronger and older. The downside is that I don't get a lot of different looks or the chance to train against a lot of different styles. There's not much variety. I guess the other thing I miss about being in a bigger program is the number of friends you have in the wrestling room."
Proper wrestled in seventh grade at Hilliard Memorial Middle School and competed at Jonathan Alder as an eighth-grader.
"We have tried to go to other practices. We actually practiced with Buckeye Valley twice and Delaware Hayes once," Marquis said. "But we have scheduling conflicts that make it difficult to do that more often. We don't get out of school until 3:30 here, and by the time we get to Buckeye Valley or Delaware, they're just about wrapping up their practices."
Proper qualified for state by going 4-1 and placing third in the district tournament March 2 and 3 at Heath. He won two matches by pin, including the third-place match against Alex Overly of Sarahsville Shenandoah. The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state.
Proper won a sectional title Feb. 24 at Cardington, where the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to district. Chesnes went 0-2 at sectional.
"We had four wrestlers in 2016, although we finished with three because one was injured," Marquis said. "But it would be nice to get a strong number of kids into the program. The one thing I want everyone to know is that just because we're Christians doesn't mean we're weak. We may thank the Lord and ask him for strength, but we lift, train and work just as hard as every other school and program."