The one that’s getting away

CANFIELD – There are a lot of things Howland wrestler Jordan Radich can win at, but one of them is currently eluding him.

Game shows wouldn’t be a problem. He owns a 3.9 GPA and knows more random facts than most college professors, according to his teammate and first cousin, David-Brian Whisler. Winning the “Best Hair” contest at Howland High School also would be a lock. His golden-colored hair flows down past his shoulders after growing it out for the past two-and-a-half years.

And if you ask him, being the first person to get a date also wouldn’t be an issue.

“The hair does the trick,” cracked Radich.

Considering he was a state qualifier last season as a sophomore and an Eastern Ohio Wrestling League champion as well, one would expect him to be racking up first-place trophies left and right. But, even though Radich is 20-5 and one of the top-ranked wrestlers in the state at 160 pounds, he hasn’t placed first at a tournament this year.

He hopes to change that – starting today.

“This is a big weekend for me,” said Radich, turning serious as he discussed his chances at the Eastern Ohio Wrestling meet, which continues at 10 a.m. today at Canfield High School. “I need to win it. This is what we practice for – the big tournaments.”

The Tigers have been in a lot of big ones this year, so it’s no knock on Radich that he hasn’t yet earned a title. It was around this time last season that Radich suddenly started wrestling the best he has in his career and rode the momentum to the state tournament, where he narrowly missed placing in the top eight. He and Howland coach Bill Beasom are hoping for a similar finish to the 2014 season.

“I’m getting on the podium this year,” said Radich, referring to the podium at the state tournament, which displays the top eight wrestlers at each weight class. “That’s not a goal. That’s a fact. I can beat anyone there (at the state tournament). It’s just whoever wrestles the best that day. A state championship isn’t out of the question.”

The kid certainly doesn’t lack confidence.

Beasom likes his “personality” … and his wrestling. He has just as much faith in his goofy 160-pounder as Radich. He said Radich has improved at the neutral position, an area he lacked at times last year, and is “a beast” on top, where he can turn opponents with a variety of moves. Beasom thinks two wins today would give him more than a second-straight EOWL title.

“Last year it gave him a humongous boost,” Beasom said. “He won this and started rolling. Everything kind of picked up for him. He went through the sectional and placed in the top four at districts. He just missed getting on the podium by one or two points. Hopefully this will jumpstart him like last year.”

He has to beat Mason Hughes of West Branch in his semifinal match to have a chance. He would then wrestle the winner of Anthony Audi (Poland) and Luke Baldwin (Grand Valley) in the final.

If that doesn’t happen, he has other areas of life to fall back on – Twitter, Jeopardy, Lego blocks, hair growth, girls, etc. – according to Whisler, Radich’s cousin and one of his best friends. Whisler spoke at length about the many oddities of Radich, who started growing his hair out as a freshman because he and his friend, Jake Smith, made a pact to grow it long for football. Whisler said Radich is abnormally smart, thinks he’s the lady’s man of all lady’s men and once permed his hair for a school dance.

“He’s the kind of guy who would go win Jeopardy – he knows all kinds of stupid, useless facts,” Whisler said. “I’d want to go outside and play as a kid, and he’d be inside studying periodical tables and putting together these huge Lego machines without the instructions.”

Whisler added that Smith just cut his hair last week.

“He kind of had to,” Whisler said. “It looked really bad on him. He and Jordan got perms one time. We were supposed to have an 80’s dance at our school, so they both got perms. They’re so stupid. But, that’s the kind of kid Jordan is. He’s kind of like the class clown.”

To his credit, Radich, who said he doesn’t know “what the women would do” if he cut his hair, did gain some attention on Friday.

“Some girl came up to me and asked if she could braid my hair,” he laughed. “So, it does work.”

He hopes to gain more attention on the mat today.