Published: Saturday, January 27, 2007
Hephner parents true to their son
The tournament resumes at 9 a.m. The finals begin at 6 p.m.
By ERIC HAMILTON
AUSTINTOWN The Josh Hephner Memorial Wrestling Tournament means a lot of things to a lot of people. So did the young man that the event honors.
"We are so touched by how many people want to honor Josh," said Mark Hephner, Josh's father.
"It's not just kids from Fitch, it's all the kids we meet here. They show respect for what this tournament means to us."
Josh Hephner was killed in an automobile accident in July 1993, shortly before his junior year.
Mark Hephner and his wife, Patty, attend the tournament every year, but don't see much of the wrestling. That's because they are busy working in the concession stand, which helps raise money for the Fitch mat program.
"That's where our friends are," said Mrs. Hephner, while taking a break from her work.
"We just want to raise the money for the kids. This is really a bittersweet thing for us. It's nice that everyone cares so much for us and for Josh."
While the Hephners don't see much of the action, they have taken a special interest in one of Fitch's finest wrestlers two-time state champion Tony Jameson.
Jameson, who earlier this week requested not to be interviewed as to not take the focus away from the tournament, is admired by the Hephners.
"Tony really reminds me of Josh when he wrestled at 103 pounds," Mrs. Hephner said.
"He moves the way Josh did. When I see him wrestle, it makes me smile.
"And the reason he's successful is because he cares about other people's feelings. He just does his own thing, but thinks of others."
Hephner reiterated his wife's thoughts related to Jameson.
"I'm impressed with how he acts as a young person," Hephner said. "I think him and Josh would have been competitive head-to-head. But it's good that Tony's put on some weight, because then they wouldn't have to face each other."
Fitch Blue second
Jameson went undefeated in the first day of competition at the Hephner, helping to lead the Fitch blue squad to second place in the team competition heading into today's fourth round.
Uniontown Lake leads the pack with 86.5 points, while Fitch Blue was right behind with 85 points. Division II powerhouse Ravenna (75.5) is third, Marlington (75) is fourth and Medina (63) is fifth.
Winning all their matches on Friday for Fitch were Jameson, Matt Kuti, J.J. Pankwicz, Chris Miller, Brian Weidenthal and Zack Martin.
"I was concerned coming in because we didn't wrestle well last night," Fitch coach Brett Powell said.
"I think we were overlooking last night because today was so important to the kids. It's the biggest tournament we wrestle in all year, except for state.
"We beat Lake in a dual earlier this season, but they're peaking at the right time. And we knew Ravenna would be tough. We just need to place some kids tomorrow to have a chance of winning it. In this tournament, the thirds and fourths help you win, not the number of champions."
The tournament resumes with round-robin matches at 9 a.m.
The top eight wrestlers in each weight class advance to a tournament style bracket in the afternoon session.
The finals begin at 6 p.m.