As the preeminent all-male high schools in the Cleveland area, St. Ignatius and St. Edward have a storied rivalry, both in the classroom and on every field, court or other surface of athletic competition.
After dozens of state championships, individual and team, across all sports, the Wildcats and Eagles looked on as their rivalry was taken to the next level when former St. Edward standout Dean Heil and St. Ignatius alum George DiCamillo completed for the 141-pound crown at the 2017 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.
A native of Brunswick, Ohio, Heil earned a 6-3 decision win over DiCamillo to cap off a perfect 36-0 season and his second straight 141-pound NCAA Championship.
“It was a great experience,” Heil said after completing the undefeated run for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who finished third as a team behind champion Penn State and runner up Ohio State. “Everybody's tough. 141 is a tough weight class. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. I had to prepare myself for every individual match and give it my all.”
Although Heil and DiCamillo, representing the University of Virginia, were competing with the backdrop of previous experience against each other, both in high school and college, the reigning champion focused on the task at hand when he stepped onto the mat.
“He's just another opponent,” said Heil, a four-time state champion wrestler for St. Edward. “After I thought about it, just going into today, there's nothing to worry about, it's just another match. I've been here. He hasn't. I think that's why I had the upper hand.
“I could feel it in the first period. I could just sense that he had the nerves. He was weak. I could just feel that he was kind of a little bit more scared and timid, whereas I thought strength. I felt a lot of my shots. I took advantage of that.”
Having competed and defeated DiCamillo in the earlier in the season in the Southern Scuffle event, Heil was confident going into the final matchup of the season.
“I've been a scrambler my whole life,” said Heil, the first two-time national champion to come out of Medina County. “I've been in big matches my whole life. I just don't let things get to me because I know if I go down by a takedown, I can come back and take you down. I believe I can take anybody down in the country. If you take me down, get the first takedown, I'll come back and throw two more takedowns on you.”
Hounded on social media for people believing he was pinned at different points in the match, Heil will not let the doubters and detractors steal his moment of championship glory.
“I also have to thank those people because (they) motivate me throughout the season,” Heil said. “Going into next season, people are probably still going to do it. If you saw in my match now, I got boos here and there just because they wanted takedowns for Georgie. They wanted me to get pinned in a scramble situation.
“I'll probably get messages on social media saying, ‘You were pinned,’ stuff like that, but who got their hand raised? That's all that matters in my book. I don't care what people say. It motivates me, so I hope people will actually still continue it.”
© 2017 WKYC-TV