Roane County's Dylan Cottrell might just get that elusive national wrestling championship one day, but it's going to have to come wherever he decides his college home is going to be.
This past Sunday at the National High School Coaches Association's Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va., the Raider senior made it to the 145-pound finals before suffering a 3-2 rideout defeat at the hands of New Jersey state champion Alexander Richardson, who will attend Old Dominion.
The runner-up effort for Cottrell, who will make his Roane County track debut today in Ripley, was the fifth time he's earned All-American status.
"It's kind of mixed feelings," said the recent Robert Dutton Award winner and four-time state champion of his last experience at nationals. "When I came off the mat, when you're out there and the adrenaline is flowing, that's when I was most upset, I guess.
"It's so hard to look at it because you are so close to winning a national title, but there are so many kids who want to be there and I was. It was kind of a learning experience, too. It's mixed feelings of good and bad, how close it was. Just being there was awesome. He was tough, but I could beat him."
Cottrell said Appalachian State was, "pretty much all over me all weekend," and that both Virginia Tech, who he had talked to before, as well as Oregon State showed some interest in perhaps obtaining his services for the next four years on the mat.
Currently, Cottrell said he plans to make official visits in the next couple of weeks to both Edinboro and Maryland, which would still leave him with two more he could use up.
The Class AA all-state football first team offensive captain had a strong bracket comprised of nearly 70 entrants. Along the way he beat a four-time New Mexico state champion, a wrestler from Germany who had won three titles, a three-time North Dakota state champ and a state champion from Florida.
"The finals were crazy," said Cottrell, who nearly escaped in the final 30-second period, but his opponent was called for a stall and he couldn't escape on the restart. "There were a lot of people there and it was televised live.
"I just mostly went into it trying not to be nervous. It just sucked to get that close and to lose it, triple overtime, ultimate rideout. I wrestled eight and a half minutes and literally come out inches away (from winning)."
Parkersburg South's Lance Hill (third at 106) and Parkersburg's Jared Haught (fourth at 182) also earned All-American honors in the NHSCA Junior Nationals. Big Red Trapper Hays did the same by taking fifth at 120 in the freshman version. Also, Parkersburg South freshman Dane Mills picked up All-American accolades by getting fifth at heavyweight although there were only eight entrants.
"I'm just glad he went and gained a new experience," said retired PSHS mat coach Paul Jackson of Mills. "It's a strange thing and you can never tell how many people will be in the bracket."
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org