Success in wrestling is all about changing levels.
Nick Kiussis hit a level he didn’t know he could reach Saturday at the Division I state tournament.
For three seasons, the Brunswick star had enough to reach the championship match. All three years, he finished second.
That all changed at Value City Arena on Saturday when he beat Elyria’s Brendan Price 10-3 to win the 160-pound weight class.
“I felt like I was focused a lot more,” Kiussis said. “My coaches were telling me I was a little off track.
“Of course, with me, I was like, ‘Oh, no. I’m on track.’ They told me to get it together, and I perfected everything and got it together.”
Kiussis put himself in the rarest of air in Medina County history.
In winning the championship, he became the first four-time state placer for the Blue Devils and the only area wrestler to reach four state finals.
“He’s one of those kids that didn’t get caught up in the pressure,” Brunswick coach Mike Koshar said. “He was calm. He was collective. He just worked hard. He was confident, but not cocky. I’m just happy for him that all his hard work paid off.”
In winning twice by major decision — a victory of eight points or more — and another two times by seven points, Kiussis had every reason to show a little arrogance.
Being braggadocios isn’t Kiussis’ style, and the reserved senior showed as much throughout.
“I wanted to get that state title,” Kiussis said. “It’s so much more special. Since I failed three years in a row, it’s all that more gratifying to accomplish the goals I’ve wanted for so long.”
True to form, Kiussis stayed calm — that is until his hand was raised.
The smile he shared with his father in the stands immediately following the match is probably still on Kiussis’ face, as years of training paid off with the highest honor in high school wrestling.
A loss would have made Kiussis the only four-time runner-up in the 80-year history of the tournament, so finishing champion made it a little sweeter.
“It was pure excitement,” Kiussis said. “There was a lot of relief that came off my back after I got it over with. I was really nervous going into the match. It’s all over with now. It’s all happiness.”
It might be all over for Kiussis, who will take his 132 career wins to Morgantown and compete for West Virginia, but the legacy he’s left will be felt for years to come.
“He’s kind of what wrestling is all about,” Koshar said. “Like in life, we all get knocked down. You have to get back up. He essentially got knocked down three times in the state finals and he kept getting back up. That fourth time worked out for him.
“He’s a four-time finalist, so he’s the best wrestler in Brunswick history, for sure. In Medina County with him being the first four-time finalist, it’s another big feat.
“You don’t get a kid like him. We’ve had two or three in the history of Brunswick. He’s just a special talent. When he wrestles in the room, he just makes you better.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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