Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
July 29, 2021
After losing his consolation match in the Division I North Canton Hoover district tournament, Ben DiMarco wasn’t finished with wrestling.
He had decided to keep wrestling into the summer before his sophomore high school season of wrestling even started. Losing at the district tournament made it an easier choice.
“I was not ready to be done,” he said. “Even if I had made it to state or had won the tournament I would have done freestyle and tried to go to Fargo. Fargo was a huge opportunity for colleges looking at you.”
The Fargo tournament in North Dakota was one of the largest high school wrestling tournaments in the country and ran from July 17-23.
DiMarco qualified for Fargo after he placed runner-up at a freestyle district tournament in Uniontown Lake. His goal to become an All-American came up short but he put on a good show and won three matches in the 182-pound weight class at the 16U Freestyle tournament.
DiMarco’s first day at Fargo got off to a good start when he defeated Mason Ferguson from Washington 10-0 by technical fall in the round of 64.
“Ferguson was an awkward wrestler but was also a super-strong kid,” said DiMarco. “I could play around with him a little bit and got up on top of him early a little bit and ended up tech falling before I even knew it.”
DiMarco advanced to the round of 16 after surviving a bout with Iowa’s Jarrett Roos 7-5 in the second round thanks to a late call.
“It was definitely tougher,” admitted DiMarco. “I was beating myself again. I was getting pretty tired during the match and he was getting in on my legs which is something that does not happen to me a lot and Roos double-legged me out of bounds. He was keeping a high pace and I wasn’t keeping up with it very well. We were going out-of-bounds late and although I was a lot closer to the edge, I threw him a little bit and he ended up stepping out before I did. Had he gotten the call then it would have been 6-6 and he would have won based on criteria. It was just one point but it made all the difference.”
DiMarco’s momentum came to a halt when he grappled with Connor Mirasola out of Wisconsin and lost 10-0 by a technical fall.
“Mirasola was pretty strong,” said DiMarco. “We got an early feel for each other but he got an early lead. He got my leg up and tried to throw me one way with one of his arms. He hit my nose pretty good and it started bleeding and I went out of bounds. I was flustered and lost myself early in the match.”
Although his quest to win the 182-pound title was over, DiMarco still had a chance to become an All-American by winning three matches in the consolation bracket. He bounced back by defeating Erik McCown in the second consolation round of 16 by a 9-6 score.
“That match against McCown was another awkward match,” said DiMarco. “I just went into that match knowing I was going to win which was not the right thing to do and I almost pinned myself twice but I controlled it the whole time and paced myself.”
Day two saw DiMarco’s time at Fargo end early when he lost 10-5 to Omaury Alvarez from Georgia in the first consolation round of 8.
“I wanted to get that first hit out of my system,” said DiMarco. “Alvarez did the same exact thing and right off the bat I felt his power. It was a pretty even match and he was definitely a good wrestler and did some good things. I had a lot of step-outs and gave up a lot of silly points like getting backed out of the circle but then sometime in the first period he tried to throw me but I didn’t let him and I got four points and think he got one so it was 5-3. In the second period, I lost a point on a step-out and then he took me down. He double-legged me and I tried to throw him and I went straight to my back so he ended up getting four points and I couldn’t do anything after that.”
It was a promising finish after a rocky start to his sophomore year of wrestling which was delayed for a month-and-a-half due to the pandemic. According to DiMarco, it was one of the best wrestling seasons he had experienced.
Wrestling had been a part of DiMarco’s life since he was born. His father, Ben Sr., wrestled at Solon while his older brother Frank wrestled at Kenston.
DiMarco said he had a lot of energy as a child so his parents decided to send him to wrestling camp when he was 4 to help channel it. While he enjoyed wrestling, football was his favorite sport for several years before until he won his first wrestling state title in the third grade.
His freshman year saw him compete in the 152-pound weight class and he made it to the Division I Mentor district tournament but failed to place.
“That’s always how it goes,” said DiMarco. “Coming up short really motivates you but I was just really upset with myself that I didn’t even make it to the state tournament my freshman year and told myself sophomore year was going to be a bit different.”
He moved to the 160-pound weight class for his sophomore season but there was a chance the wrestling season would not even get off the ground.
“A part of me thought they would not let it happen,” said DiMarco. “But they were letting everything else happen so I thought they should definitely let us wrestle.”
Due to COVID restrictions, the Bombers only competed in dual meets and the Western Reserve Conference tournament this year.
After his quest for state ended at the district tournament the second consecutive season, DiMarco started training for Fargo.
One of the biggest things he needed to prepare for was the different style of wrestling. When he competed at Kenston, DiMarco wrestled folkstyle but amateur wrestlers had to compete in freestyle for the summer season.
“Folkstyle and freestyle are a lot different,” explained DiMarco. “For freestyle, there’s less time in the matches but you’re moving a lot faster so there are more opportunities to score points and every time you expose someone’s back to the mat, you get two points or if you push someone out of the circle in a certain way you get one point so there’s not stalling.”
DiMarco decided he would be best suited to wrestle in the 182-pound weight class for the freestyle tournaments.
“After the Kenston season I actually got up to about 180,” said DiMarco. “I felt good going into all of the tournaments but while I prepared for Fargo I dropped some weight and got to 174 but then decided I was just going to eat what I want and just stay up at 182. I’ve never done well at cutting weight not because I can’t do it but I just drain myself.”
While his time at Fargo ended earlier than he planned, DiMarco was at his best during the freestyle season and is confident his experience will have him better prepared his junior year. Fargo has not seen the last of Ben DiMarco.