MOUNT VERNON — It was a tale of two seasons for Mount Vernon senior wrestler Dane Cullen. In Cullen’s case, both have been the best of times.
Cullen started out as the Yellow Jackets’ heavyweight. He switched to 215 pounds in the middle of the season and will meet the best of the best Division I 215-pounders at the 2010 OHSAA State Wrestling Championships at Value City Arena today, Friday and Saturday.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Cullen. “It’s great. I’ve been waiting a real long time to get there.”
It’s Cullen’s first time participating at the state, but he has been there as a spectator enough times to understand what to expect. With similar size tournaments under his belt, he doesn’t expect to get blown away by the crowd or the atmosphere.
“I’ve been there the last two or three years,” said Cullen. “Last year, I (qualified as) an alternate. Before that, I went with my dad and my brothers.”
Despite being outsized and outweighed, the agile Cullen was able to manage quite well against the heavyweights early in the year, winning most of his matches and only losing against state placers.
It was taking on the big boys that helped prep Cullen for the second part of the year. Moving him to the 215 slot was a group decision.
“It was all of us,” said Cullen. “Coach (John) Brown, my dad and I. It was after Toledo, I wrestled a couple of really good kids there, we figured it would be way easier for me. I can keep up but it is just way harder than it is at 215. When I was wrestling real good heavyweights — the best kids out there — I knew I could take a shot at them and I got it. That made everything a lot easier.”
In the end, it was a decision that paid dividends.
“It’s been easier at 215,” said Cullen. “As a heavyweight, everyone is just so much bigger than me. If I knew I was going to be a heavyweight before the season, I would have trained harder and worked out more.”
Aside from coach Brown and his parents, Cullen has had the support of Team Miron Wrestling.
“Also, coach (Alan) Oswalt and coach (Kenneth) Bevington have helped me a lot. They’re telling me that if I do all my shots like I do in practice and believe in myself, I can do it,” said Cullen.
This past weekend, Cullen was named the best heavyweight in the Ohio Capital Conference and was also named All-Metro runner-up at 215 pounds where he now has the opportunity to be All-Ohio. This week, practice has been full steam ahead.
“Practices have been real good and really intense for me so far,” said Cullen. “Every second of the day, I think about going to the state, doing my best, beating everybody there and winning it.”