Wadsworth wrestler Aaron Ries earns Grizzlies first national title in 13 years

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Wadsworth's Aaron Ries pins Georgia's Jacob Levy to win the heavyweight national title at the 16U National Freestyle Championships in Fargo, N.D.
Wadsworth's Aaron Ries pins Georgia's Jacob Levy to win the heavyweight national title at the 16U National Freestyle Championships in Fargo, N.D.

When Aaron Ries took his podium picture at the OHSAA Division I state tournament, there wasn’t even a step for the Wadsworth sophomore to stand on.

That didn’t sit well for the 285-pound standout and he vowed then and there to make sure it never happened again.

Did he ever.

Ries rolled through a 64-man bracket and finished things off with a 16U national freestyle title in the USA Wrestling event at Fargo, N.D., which has long been considered the best summer tournament in the country.

Movie Magic: They don't script it better: Aaron Ries rallies to win match, hand Team Ohio national title

He joined Brecksville’s Rylan Seacrist (5th, 100) and Perry’s Lincoln Rohr (6th, 94) as All-Americans from the area.

“I knew I could have done better at the state tournament,” Ries said. “It stung. I made a couple mistakes, but that really drove me. I really felt like I could make a run at it the next year. I really didn’t run into much competition until I got here. I didn’t get taken down until the Cadet National Duals.”

Before that, Ries won the Central Regional to punch his spot at Fargo. Then a come-from-behind win at the 16U National Duals turned some heads when he clinched a title for Team Ohio.

When Ries reached the FargoDome a month later, he bulled his way through the competition.

He solidified himself on the national scene with a win over UWW All-American Sampson Stillwater of Missouri in the quarterfinals and then beat Iowa’s Cooper Martinson, who built a 6-3 lead but then fell into a false sense of security, with a pin.

When Georgia’s Jacob Levy reached the finals Ries already had a head of steam. Levy, who was a high school national finalist, tried to bull Ries and like everyone else at the tournament found out, “Hank” is a hammer in the trenches.

Ries pinned Levy and became Wadsworth’s first Fargo since Kagan Squire won in 2009.

“I don’t know if there were very many 16U guys out here that could hang with me,” Ries said. “Especially for someone who is as quick as me at this size.”

Wadsworth's Aaron Ries celebrates after winning the 16U National Freestyle title at heavyweight in Fargo, N.D.
Wadsworth's Aaron Ries celebrates after winning the 16U National Freestyle title at heavyweight in Fargo, N.D.

New mentality, same Aaron Ries

Ries has long been the underdog, but now will come back to Fargo as the hunted.

While it’s new to Ries, he’s ready.

“Everyone was writing about Stillwater,” Ries said. “When I saw him, I was like, ‘Oh, boy, that’s going to be a fun one. When I saw the brackets and saw I had him in the quarters, I knew that was going to be the match.

“I always like being the underdog. It’s my favorite thing because no one really talks about you. Now, I have to keep my head down and act like I’m still trying to get one.”

Copley's Javaan Yarbrough is at it again. This time, at the Junior Freestyle level in Fargo, N.D. where he'll wrestle for a national title at 100 pounds.
Copley's Javaan Yarbrough is at it again. This time, at the Junior Freestyle level in Fargo, N.D. where he'll wrestle for a national title at 100 pounds.

Javaan Yarbrough never left

Just in case the junior freestyle circuit thought there would be a step back, Copley’s Javaan Yarbrough (100) proved he belongs on the big stage.

Again.

The 100-pound junior reached his third consecutive Fargo final, this time in junior freestyle when he beat Virginia state placer Caden Smith 6-4 to reach the championship.

Aurora graduate Tyler Lillard (170), who will wrestle for fifth, and Wadsworth’s Jaxon Joy (132), who will wrestle for seventh, joined him as area All-Americans.

“I knew I had a target on my back, so I had to maintain my composure,” Yarbrough said. “I have to work harder, be great and just wrestle. You have to have a good mindset.”

Yarbrough proved those words to be prophetic by outscoring his opponents 40-9 in four matches at Fargo so far, but to know the two-time national finalist and 16U freestyle champion is to know he’s always ready for the next big thing.

“You have to be humble,” Yarbrough said. “Hungry, but humble.”

That humility will go a long way as Yarbrough gets ready for a championship match with Maryland’s Tyler Garvin.

Garvin comes in as a state champion and is a returning Fargo placer.

“Experience helps a lot,” Yarbrough said. “The kids in the Arsenal Club [practice room] beat me up. I beat them up. We make each other better. That’s what helps me get here.”

Contact Brad Bournival at bbournival@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @bbournival.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Aaron Ries of Wadsworth wins wrestling national title with a pin