Ravenna joins 47 other high school teams including 12 of the top 25-ranked squads from all over the United States. Ravenna has moved up from 24 to 22 in the latest USA Today wrestling rankings as the Ravens easily won the Solon Classic last weekend.
"We are nearly at full strength," said coach Steve Reedy. "We are excited about being invited."
It was quite a thrill for the Ravens. With the aid of parents and the Ravenna Booster Club, $14,000 was raised over the summer to defray expenses.
About half of the squad's parents made the trip. Other Raven friends seen in Reno included Russ and Sandy Brode along with Roy and Joyce Morgan. All expect great things from the team.
Several of the parents made a quick trip to Lake Tahoe to ski for a few hours. The scenery is impressive as Reno is surrounded by the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Squaw Valley, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, is just over an hour away.
"This trip is a real education for the kids," said Reedy. "Ten of the 14 wrestlers have never been on a plane. That is hard to believe in this day and age.
"It certainly will make the kids more rounded. Of course, we are here to wrestle well."
Reedy would be happy to see his team finish in the top 15. This is the first competition for the Ravens on a national scale in any sport. In wrestling, styles are different in various parts of the country and so is the refereeing. How Ravenna adapts will be the key.
Ravenna has a great lineup. Featuring Brandon Hayes at 119 pounds and Andy Hampton at 215, the Ravens are one of favored teams to take home a state title in Ohio. Although Ravenna is in Division II, the Ravens could hold their own with any Division I team.
Jeff Dunfee (130), Mike Ramsey (135), Vince Zmith (152), Jeff Delaney (160), J.R. Shrewsberry (171) and Brad Bauer (189) round out the top wrestlers for Ravenna. All but Dunfee and Ramsey won Solon titles. The latter two were second. Keith Lara returns to action after suffering a hairline fracture in his wrist. If he is up to par, Ravenna has an excellent chance of achieving Reedy's goals.
Action was to begin at 9 a.m. today on nine mats and will end on Tuesday evening. Those in the championship bouts will be treated to a raised platform, like the one used in the NCAA national tournament.