Reynoldsburg Roundup: Raiders' Michael Dawkins achieves goal of wrestling at state

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Reynoldsburg senior Michael Dawkins closed his prep career by competing in the Division I state tournament March 13 and 14 at Hilliard Darby. He went 1-2 at 132 pounds.

All of the work he did drilling and conditioning the past few months felt worth it for Reynoldsburg senior wrestler Michael Dawkins after he reached the Division I state tournament for the first time. 

That’s not to say that there weren’t some challenging moments along the way. 

“I’d say the toughest part of my journey this last couple weeks would be the weight cut,” Dawkins said. “I love wrestling and I could drill moves for hours if I was instructed to with no hesitation. … (But) the struggle of watching my girlfriend snack on a creamy, steamy, dreamy cinnamon roll as I eat carrots is torture beyond comparison.” 

Dawkins closed his prep career by going 1-2 at 132 pounds at state March 13 and 14 at Hilliard Darby. 

After qualifying for the Division II district tournament at 120 as a freshman at Hartley and then making it to district at 120 as a sophomore at Whitehall, Dawkins transferred to Reynoldsburg last season and had to sit out the postseason because of the OHSAA transfer rule. 

This winter, he was runner-up in the sectional Feb. 27 at Upper Arlington and then placed fourth at district March 6 and 7 at Darby to become the Raiders’ only state qualifier. 

Reynoldsburg had a state qualifier last season in 2020 graduate Noah Ratliff, who advanced at 152 before the tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

“(Making state) marks a huge sign of growth,” Dawkins said. “I just sit back in awe thinking about how much I’ve grown as a wrestler within the past year, and being a state qualifier really exemplifies that growth. Having coaches that truly believe in you and constantly preach your success goes a long way.” 

After Dawkins lost his opening state match 16-1 to eventual champion Richard Delsanter of Lakewood St. Edward, he beat Brecksville-Broadview Heights’ Manny Sordas 5-2 to give the program its first victory at state since James Love won a match at 182 in 2014. 

Dawkins then fell 5-2 to Avon’s Cael Saxton to finish 23-6. 

“Michael was a hungry wrestler this season,” coach Jon Forgy said. “He wasn’t able to participate in the postseason last year and wanted to leave it all on the mat. He worked hard in the room and would go to get extra workouts during the week. Michael is one of the most coachable wrestlers and is a sponge when it comes to the sport.” 

Dawkins was one of four Raiders qualifiers to the district tournament along with senior Dalton Hall (heavyweight) and sophomores Logan Smalley (138) and Chris Karr (160). 

Hall went 0-2 at district and finished 13-7. Karr finished sixth at district and went 10-4, and Smalley went 1-2 at district and finished 5-3.  

Smalley missed the entire regular season with an injury after also being a district qualifier last year. 

Gaven Miller was one of four seniors to compete for the Raiders during the postseason. "I was most pleased with the effort and perseverance our team showed over the course of the season," coach Jon Forgy said.

The other seniors to compete in the postseason were Yoni Bisrat (120) and Gaven Miller (182). 

Junior Gracie Straughter (111) and freshman Christy Thelusma (143) represented Reynoldsburg in the girls state tournament Feb. 20 and 21 at Hilliard Davidson, with Straughter winning two matches. 

Also competing in the girls district tournament Feb. 14 at Olentangy Orange were sophomore Cassidy Gall (131) and freshman Summer Batts (101). 

Other boys eligible to return include sophomores Landon Bray (126), Marcus Collins (145), Drake Hall (145) and Steven Schulze (220) and freshmen Evan Patton (195) and Xzavier Price (195). 

“Overall, it was a good season,” Forgy said. “We had lots of young wrestlers get some great experience and be competitive. I’m just glad that we were able to get through the season and have minimal issues involving COVID-19. I was most pleased with the effort and perseverance our team showed over the course of the season.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

WRESTLING 

OCC-Buckeye standings: Lancaster (5-0), Newark (4-1), Central Crossing (3-2), Reynoldsburg (2-3), Pickerington Central (1-4), Groveport (0-5)  

Seniors lost: Yoni Bisrat, Dalton Hall, Michael Dawkins and Gaven Miller 

Key returnees: Summer Batts, Landon Bray, Marcus Collins, Drake Hall, Chris Karr, Steven Schulze, Logan Smalley, Gracie Straughter and Christy Thelusma 

Postseason: Seventh (98) at sectional behind champion Upper Arlington (241), 29th (13) at district behind champion Dublin Coffman (228.5), tied for 72nd (1) at state behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (184.5)