Hartley wrestlers might be in awe of their surroundings as they walk to the mats in St. John Arena today for the state dual team championships.

Hartley wrestlers might be in awe of their surroundings as they walk to the mats in St. John Arena today for the state dual team championships.

This is a big step in the program’s history for the Hawks, who are seeded seventh among eight teams in Division III.

“Winning the regional championship to get here will be our team’s first banner on the wall in the school,” fifth-year coach Kevin Petrella said. “We’re very proud, very excited to be in this position. It was one of our goals to get this far.”

Other teams from central Ohio include seventh seed Marysville and eighth seed Delaware in Division I and seventh seed Amanda-Clearcreek in Division II.

Hartley will try to add on to a season that has included a second Central Catholic League championship in three seasons and a fourth-place finish in the 22-team Sally George Invitational at Pleasant.

Petrella, a 2003 Hartley graduate who finished fifth as a junior and second as a senior at 160 pounds in the state tournament, has seen some lean times for the program.

“There were only three wrestlers two to three years before I got to the school,” Petrella said. “ The roster was in the mid-teens when I was here. We’ve had some ups and downs, but now we’ve got 22 wrestlers. What’s great is that now we can fill all the weight classes.”

He gives credit to previous coaches David Page and his father, Paul, for building the number of participants. There have been as many as 25.

Senior Grant Rathburn is the face of the Hawks. He has 114 career victories and reached the state tournament at 126 pounds as a sophomore and at 132 as a junior.

“It definitely is a big deal for us to get to the state dual meet tournament,” Rathburn said. “ We came so close last year but lost in the regional final. Getting here was a team effort. I’m proud to be a wrestler here. We’ve put in a lot of time.”

Rathburn won the championship at 138 pounds at the Sally George tournament and was runner-up at 138 in the prestigious Catholic Invitational Tournament at Cleveland State.

He does not want this to be the pinnacle for the team.

“We want this to be the start,” Rathburn said. “We want the team to keep growing. The seniors are proud to leave a legacy.”

Senior Jacob Croswell said reaching the state dual team tournament displayed Hartley’s depth.

“I don’t know how I can explain the feeling of making it this far,” he said. “It’s the best feeling ever. … This tournament shows off a lot more kids (than the state tournament). You work hard as a team. You can win the state tournament with only four guys.”

Hartley’s wrestlers want to put the team on the same high plane as the school’s football and basketball teams.

It’s first things first, though, Petrella said.

“You just can’t jump to the vision of a state title immediately,” he said. “Getting our school’s first individual champion would be a ladder step. Winning sectional and district tournaments would be steps.”