Wrestling cures football despair for Montini’s Edgar Ruano

SHARE Wrestling cures football despair for Montini’s Edgar Ruano

On Nov. 30, Montini’s Edgar Ruano was in DeKalb wearing a football uniform. Exactly two weeks later he was in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio wearing a wrestling singlet.

There are 423 miles between those two places but for Ruano there are a million miles between his experiences in each town.

The Broncos’ senior suffered the lowest of lows in DeKalb after the four-time defending state champions lost 38-28 to Sacred Heart-Griffin in the Class 5A football state title game.

“It was tough because we hadn’t lost all year,” Ruano said. “It was heart-breaking.”

Two days after that loss, the defensive tackle turned in his football gear and returned to the wrestling room for the six-time defending wrestling state champions. Ruano began the arduous trek of getting back into wrestling shape, which he’s done as a varsity starter in each of his four years at Montini.

“That first week is always tough because I have to cut weight after football,” Ruano said. “But I lost 20 pounds in a week and by the second week I started to feel pretty smooth. Wrestling is like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to do it.”

Each year, Montini competes in Cuyahoga Falls at the two-day Walsh Jesuit Ironman, widely regarded as the toughest in-season wrestling tournament in the country. A two-time state place-winner in Illinois, Ruano was the 220-pound class No. 2 seed at this year’s 84-team tournament.

Ruano opened the two-day tournament with a pin and then came back from a 4-1 deficit against Oak Park-River Forest’s Emonte Logan to win a 6-5 decision. He won 5-1 in his quarterfinal match before coming back from another 4-1 deficit to win a 6-4 semifinal decision in overtime.

Ruano wrestled Austin Pfarr from Marysville, Ohio for the title, winning a 3-2 decision. Junior heavyweight Michael Johnson also won an individual title for Montini, which finished fifth overall.

In a matter of two weeks, Ruano went from wallowing in a pit of despair on the football field to scaling one of high school wrestling’s highest mountaintops. And an Ironman title went a long way towards clarifying whether Ruano will play football or wrestle in college.

“Well, after this weekend, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be wrestling,” Ruano joked. “My coach (Israel Martinez) is helping me with all that, guiding me in the right direction, but at this point I don’t know where I’ll wrestle in college.”

Ruano is currently the top-ranked 220-pounder in Class 2A by Illinois Matmen. After placing third in Illinois at 220 last year and fourth at 215 as a sophomore, an individual state title would make a nice bookend to his Ironman crown.

“This is my last chance,” Ruano said. “I’ve wanted that state title since I’ve been eight or nine years old so that’s definitely something I’m aiming for.”

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