Last weekend, I was lucky enough to work one of the scoreboards for the entire day at the wrestling meet at Bradford High School. Not only was it a great day filled with some outstanding local talent, but it was also a historic day because it was the FIRST EVER Bradford Invitational Girls Wrestling Meet that happened right along with the boy’s meet. There were a total of 32 girls from 10 different schools wrestling last Saturday with the local effort led by Bradford’s Sr Captian Zulikha Gondal. The Girl’s meet was won by Milwaukee Ronald Regan High School. The Boy’s meet saw the local effort led by Bradford’s 3 state contenders, Corbin Ramos, Thomas Riley, and Ethan McClain. The Boy’s meet was won by Janesville Parker. After it was all said and done, it was an awesome day on the mat here in KTown and it was great to restart this 52-year-old wrestling meet after a brief suspension due to Covid.
For the record, I have never wrestled one second competitively in my life but that does not mean that in my high school days, I wasn’t a “wrestling groupie”…I was. My 4 years at St Joe’s High School were book ended with SIX….count em…SIX WISAA State Wrestling Champions. And me and the guys I hung out with and played other sports with were all-in on the wrestling team. Some of my very best friends through grade school and high school were great wrestlers. Charlie Baubonis, Todd Tirabassi, Blaise Beaulier…all great wrestlers and part of a program led by the legendary Bob Bowe.
The Lancer team from my freshman year won the whole thing. WISAA team state champions. I know there were team championships before my memory kicks in, this is just based on what I saw and experienced. The team from my senior year was great because it was absolutely loaded with many of my best friends from the past 4 to 10 years of my life to that point. In honor of those teams and the great history of wrestling in this city, I give you “our” 6 state champs from that exceptional 4-year run:
Class of ’78 Champs:
May, Muth, Walker and Watring
Paul May: Relentless is the word I can best come up with. Just not stop motion crossed with a very aggressive style. Ever since the guy was in grade school, he was a wrestler. Even in other sports he walked, talked, acted like, and performed like a half-crazed wrestler.
Brad Muth: Tactical. To me, it always seemed like he was 3 moves ahead of his opponent. Like it was chess on a mat. An expert at counter-moves. I wouldn’t say it looked like he was toying with people, it just seemed like he was never ever in any trouble out there.
Rob Walker: Named the ’78 WISAA Most Outstanding Wrestler. I mean, as a grappler, there ain’t any higher accolade one can get. What an honor to walk around the rest of your life knowing you were the best of the best. A dominant performance…on the biggest stage…at the most critical time. Rare.
Brian Watring: He and my older bro went to school together for 12 years. From a distance, he’s just the last of any of these guys I’d mess with. Quiet confidence. Look once and say “he’s whatever”….look closer and say “WTF have I gotten myself into”. Consistently dangerous and dominant on the mat.
Special mention to fellow seniors Chris Capelli and Phil Wade who were also amazing all year and strong in the tournaments…the SJHS 1977-78 wrestling team may have been the best this city has ever seen.
Class of ’81 Champs:
Billy and Steve
Bill Huberty: This one is special to me cause Billy and I talked EVERY DAY about could he upset the older/heavier McShane brother from Thomas More? And he had little success doing so until State. And then the 15 years of ass-kicking he took being the youngest Huberty brother paid off. Was as happy for him as anyone…it was personal between us.
Steve Muth: Our 12 years together in school you knew 2 things about Steve Muth. He was a Bears fan and he was a wrestler. Like his brother, incredibly tactical and also like his brother, just never in trouble on the mat. He was actually a little behind at State and then his opponent made one mistake. Match over! My vote for the best I’ve ever seen individually.
As mentioned, these two along with Charlie and Todd and Blaise made this my all-time favorite team because they were “our guys” and they were damn good. It was a fantastic time to be a wrestling fan and a great time to be a Lancer. For the record, Steve may have actually won another title in there our Jr year, I think so but I’m not 100% certain and I’m sure I’ll find out sooner than later.