NOTE: The Pickaway County Player of the Year trophies for football, boys and girls basketball and wrestling were taken over by the county schools this past fall. John Howley and Brad Morris were named trustees of the trophies and determine the winner. We want to thank Roese Bros. Paving for becoming a presenting sponsor of the trophies and helping to preserve them for future generations. Roese Bros. Paving also provides a plaque for each winner to keep. The winning school gets to keep the traveling trophy in its trophy case for a year, per tradition.
By Brad Morris
ASHVILLE — Like every other state-qualifier last March, Camden McDanel was left to ponder what could have been when the state tournament was postponed and later canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I probably wouldn’t have done as well last season if I got to wrestle in the state tournament, maybe place, but once the tournament was canceled my focus went onto this season,” McDanel said. “All year, it’s been pretty much school and wrestling for me, because I wanted to qualify again for state and make a run.”
McDanel took full advantage of his opportunity to finally compete in the state tournament this season, becoming the first Teays Valley grappler in 46 years to wrestle for a state title at 182 pounds and finishing his sophomore campaign with a stellar 41-2 mark. McDanel was recently recognized for his achievements by earning the Peter Jonathan Pharr Memorial Award, presented to the top wrestler in Pickaway County.
“Wrestling is my thing and what I like to do,” McDanel said. “I want to succeed and do the best that I can.”
A Teays Valley wrestler has earned the distinction of winning the award a county-record 15 times, but McDanel is the first Viking grappler to bring the award back to Ashville since Luke Nace in 2013.
“For Teays Valley to get this trophy back means a lot to our program, especially with all the great wrestlers we’ve had who are on the trophy and now adding Camden to the list, as well,” Teays Valley coach Todd Nace said. “It’s something we appreciate and are thankful for.”
McDanel bumped up from wrestling at 160 pounds last year as a freshman for Graham to 182 for the Vikings, which Nace believes made a difference for McDanel on the mat.
“Not having to cut so much weight I feel was part of Camden’s success this season,” he said. “Camden was able to get 25 pounds stronger and I think that helped him fly around and have a lot of fun this season.”
With two returning state qualifiers in Gunner Havens (finished eighth at state) and Zander Graham, plus promising sophomore Joey Thurston, Nace felt the Vikings had the makings of a good wrestling room, with McDanel helping to add even more to the talented mix.
“We had a number of kids with high expectations entering this season and we picked up a couple of more kids to add to what we already had,” he said. “Our goal was to get our kids as far as we could get them and Camden was one of those kids who we felt had the ability to go far.
“I think our kids in the room working with Camden were a good influence on him and he did his part and helped to make our kids better in the room.”
McDanel claimed Mid-State League Buckeye Division, sectional and district championships as he advanced to the state tournament.
“The (sectional) was the first big tournament we had all season due to (COVID-19 restrictions), so I was ready to go and just wanted to go after it,” McDanel said.
The Teays Valley sophomore then advanced to the Divison I 182-pound final with a first-round win by pin over Olmsted Fall’s RJ Simon, an 11-0 major decision against against Moeller’s Jonathan Sanchez in a quarterfinal and a 4-1 verdict over Elyria’s Jake Evans in a semifinal match. Evans entered the match ranked second in the state and is bound for Ohio University.
“We knew if Camden could get past (Evans) going into the tournament that he had a good chance to go wrestle in the final,” Nace said. “That was a great win for Camden.”
McDanel then fell 5-4 in the final to unbeaten and Indiana University-bound Salvatore Perrine of Nordinia.
“Camden went toe-to-toe with (Perrine) and wrestled a nice match,” Nace said. “We got him on a reversal and I thought we were close to getting some near fall points.
“Sometimes in those matches you need a call or a break to go your way when you are talking about two very good wrestlers. Camden wrestled lights out and we just fell a point short right there.”
Nace discussed what he feels leads to McDanel’s success on the mat.
“Camden is great on his feet and really good on top, which are obviously two places you want to be pretty good at,” he said. “He brings so much energy into the room, into a match and just has a go, go, go kind of motor.”
McDanel has already resumed weight lifting and will have a “tough” offseason schedule, according to Nace, that will include wrestling freestyle and entering national tournaments, to prepare for his junior season.
“My focus is going to be the same – striving to be the best. You make every day the best you can make it,” McDanel said. “I knew I was going to get here but didn’t know how far I’d get. I plan on going all the way. I’ve still got two more years and there are bigger accomplishments than just the state tournament.”
Peter Jonathan Pharr Memorial Award Winners
1983 — Braden Adkinson, Teays Valley
1984 — Braden Adkinson, Teays Valley
1985 — Jeff Moats, Circleville
1986 — Paul Dickey, Logan Elm
1987 — Jerry Harper, Logan Elm
1988 — Mansil Hurlbut, Circleville
1989 — Roger Fitzpatrick, Teays Valley
1990 — Russell Fitzpatrick, Teays Valley
1991 — Tim Lunsford, Circleville
1992 — Nate Greuzke, Logan Elm
1993 — Scott Williams, Teays Valley
1994 — Dustin Arledge, Logan Elm
1995 — J.P. Felty, Teays Valley
1996 — Tracy Miller, Teays Valley
1997 — Tim Geiger, Westfall
1998 — Tim Geiger, Westfall
1999 — Bob Thurston, Teays Valley
2000 — Danny Roberts, Westfall
2001 — Brad Kassner, Circleville
2002 — Tyler Jenkins, Logan Elm
2003 — Ben Carver, Westfall
2004 — Brian Haines, Teays Valley
2005 — David Jones, Westfall
2006 — Russell McFadden, Circleville
2007 — Daniel Gifford, Logan Elm
2008 — Zac Conn, Teays Valley
2009 — Shane Gifford, Logan Elm
2010 — Tyler Luft, Teays Valley
2011 — Travis Luft, Teays Valley
2012 — Brocky Leidecker, Teays Valley
2013 — Luke Nace, Teays Valley
2014 — Dominic Vagnier, Logan Elm
2015 — Nate Keaton, Circleville
2016 — Nate Keaton, Circleville
2017 — Nate Keaton, Circleville
2018 — Nate Keaton, Circleville
2019 — Bowen McConahay, Logan Elm
2020 — Chanston Moll, Westfall
2021 — Camden McDanel, Teays Valley
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