reports - Quite a ride for McKinley's Burrows at state wrestling

“I can’t wait to come back next year,” he said. “I don’t care who’s in my way — I’m being a state champion.”

By Jim Thomas
Posted Mar 05, 2011 @ 11:16 PM

The Buckeye State’s wrestling community opened its arms to McKinley’s Ruben Burrows this weekend.

The Bulldogs junior 135-pounder rolled into Value City Arena mostly unknown before scrapping his way into Saturday night’s state final against Springboro’s Cody Shivener.

“He came out of left field,” said’s Josh Lowe, Ohio’s preeminent high school analyst. “I didn’t even have him picked in my top 16.”

Shivener spoiled Burrows’ party by rolling out the barrels in a 16-6 major decision.

The senior three-time high school placer and first-time champ used the barrel roll to counter every Burrows attack, and score with it.

“I thought I had him every time I shot on him,” said Burrows. “I thought I could get him with a headlock at least. But that barrel roll was nice.

“(Perry’s Zack) Dailey told me, ‘Just watch out for that barrel roll and you’ll be OK.’ I tried, but he’s good at it.”

Dailey had wrestled and defeated Shivener earlier in the season. Burrows got into Shivener’s body several times, only to be rolled over by Shivener’s move. He hit it twice in the first period, adding three back points once to lead, 7-1, after two minutes.

“I got destroyed,” Burrows said. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something.’ ”

He did. He reversed Shivener in the second period, took him down in the third, hustling and moving and shooting throughout.

A four-point move near the end of the second, though, gave Shivener a 13-4 lead and the barrels were starting to roll in Springboro.

When the match ended, his season done at 37-5, Burrows’ smile rolled on.

He got off the mat with a big smile, his trademark that enticed the fans along with the fact no McKinley wrestler had placed this high since 1975 — 36 years ago.

“I had to make it positive,” said Burrows, who carried his smile to the podium where he received a big hand from the crowd. “Every day here was amazing.”

Burrows is already planning a return.

“I can’t wait to come back next year,” he said. “I don’t care who’s in my way — I’m being a state champion.” / Michael Balash

McKinley’s Ruben Burrows acknowledges the crowd at Value City Arena after finishing runner-up in Division I at 135 pounds. / Michael Balash

Ruben Burrows of McKinley wrestles Cody Shivener of Springboro during the 74th Annual State Wrestling Tournament on Saturday in Columbus.


Ruben Burrows of McKinley wrestles Cody Shivener of Springboro during the 74th Annual State Wrestling Tournament on Saturday in Columbus.

McKinley's Burrows pulls off 2 upsets, will wrestle for title

By Jim Thomas
Posted Mar 05, 2011 @ 01:03 AM

Brian Brakeman was one of the few who had seen this before.

“Somewhere, Harold Smith is smiling,” said the author of 40 years of the Brakeman Report, Ohio’s annual take on high school wrestling.

McKinley junior Ruben Burrows was smiling too — that wonderful, ear-to-ear smile of a winner. Friday, Burrows became the first Bulldog since Smith in 1975 to reach the state championship match.

Burrows took down St. Edward’s Nick Barber at the end of regulation for a 3-1 semifinal win — sending many in the crowd at Value City Arena into cheers.

“I heard the crowd,” Burrows said. “I heard it, it was like ‘ooooooooooohhhhh.’ I was happy. ... Just making history at Canton McKinley feels great.”

Burrows (37-4) will go for the final piece of the pie tonight when he faces Springboro’s Cody Shivener (42-2). Smith, who lost his final in 1975, won the last McKinley title the year before that.

Nobody but Burrows and Bulldog coach Ron Courtney believed he could get this far. He was a blip in Brakeman’s eyes at 20th, while online expert Josh Lowe had him going one and done.

All Burrows did was beat the “experts’ ” No. 1 pick, Ty Davis of Lakota West, 7-5 in overtime in his quarterfinal match. “I believed before the match,” said Burrows.

He wrestled like it. He came out and attacked in both matches, surprising Davis with a blast double in the OT and forcing Barber to take an ill-advised shot in the final 20 seconds.

“That’s his style,” said Rae McDonald of the Stark County Wrestling Club, where Burrows toils in the offseason. “He’s fearless. He’s got nothing to lose and he just keeps doing what he does till he finds something.”

But even Burrows’ smile was dimmed when Barber blocked shot after shot after shot. He had no points and trailed 1-0 through two periods.

“He had good defense,” said Burrows. “I was I worried because I couldn’t do anything. I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t get in on his legs.

“He took a shot and I got his leg like I worked in practice.”

Barber’s countered shots proved to be his demise.

“(Barber) came around from the back, (Burrows) almost got taken down,” Courtney said. “But he rolled the ankle and came out the back and scored, almost ended up sticking him right there.

“Everything we worked on all week in practice he’s done, and it has advanced him every time. ... Hard work pays off.”

It worked to the extent that the Perry wrestlers and fans were cheering on Burrows.

“Very cool,” said Panthers 140-pounder Zack Dailey, who also made the state finals. “I work out with him a lot. We’re good friends. It’s just crazy.”

“This pumps me up for the championship match,” Burrows said of winning the two close matches. “It will make me work harder.

“Hopefully in the championship match it ain’t that close.”

Somewhere, Harold Smith is hoping Burrows joins him in the record book. / Michael Balash

Ruben Burrows of McKinley wrestles Nick Barber of Lakewood St. Edward during the 74th Annual State Wrestling Tournament in held in Columbus, Ohio.


State wrestling notebook: McKinley wrestler wins opener

By Jim Thomas
Posted Mar 03, 2011 @ 11:36 PM
Forgive Ruben Burrows for being a tiny bit antsy in his first state wrestling experience.

The McKinley Bulldog 135-pounder is used to scoring points. When a scoreless period passed and he couldn’t control Westerville North’s Stephan Alger from on top to start the second, Burrows’ pulse rate elevated.

“I was a little nervous,” said Burrows, the first McKinley wrestler to reach Columbus since 1995. “Then when I was behind, I was like, ‘I’ve got to do something.’ ”

The slick, quick Burrows did “something” all right. He got on Alger in a hurry and took him to the mat and his back for five points.

With another takedown right off the bat to open the third period, Burrows led 7-1 on his way to a 12-2 major decision.

“He is beyond that,” Bulldogs coach Ron Courtney said. “He was looking toward his next match as soon as he got off the mat.

“He got the jitters out of the way.”

“I’ve got a guaranteed two more matches,” Burrows said. “I want to keep wrestling.”
r_mb_sw11_9987.jpg / Michael Balash

Ruben Burrows of McKinley wrestles Stephen Alger of Westerville North during the 74th Annual State Wrestling Tournament on Thursday in Columbus.

McKinley's Burrows qualifies for state in wrestling

Posted Mar 02, 2011 @ 12:52 PM
Last update Mar 03, 2011 @ 12:22 AM
It was not the usual Monday at McKinley High School, junior Ruben Burrows discovered.

“Everyone at school was talking about it. People came up congratulating me, saying ‘good job’ and all kinds of stuff,” Burrows said Monday night.

It’s not every day a Bulldog like Burrows makes it to state in wrestling. The last time it happened, in 1995, Burrows had just been born.

“Man, that’s a long time ago,” the Mentor district runner-up said.

McKinley fourth-year wrestling coach Ron Courtney said it’s fitting his 135-pounder is heading to Columbus because he is “old school.”

“He’s a great kid, a real hard worker,” said Courtney. “Sometimes you get what you deserve.”

Nothing is given to you in wrestling. You go all out for six minutes, at least. Burrows gets that.

So he rises early to run the treadmill in his basement and then hits it hard again — after practice.

“I sprint 20 minutes and jog 30,” Burrows said of his conditioning exercise away from the mat and weight room. “It helped me in football with my conditioning. I also do curls and pushups, but the treadmill really helps.”

Playing big-time football doesn’t hurt on the mats either. The 5-foot-9, 153-pound Burrows played defensive back for the Bulldogs last fall. He used his quickness and instincts to intercept three passes.

Being stuck out on the island as a defensive back is akin to standing in the circle, Burrows said.

“It’s just you out on the mat,” he said. “If you mess up, there is nobody else to blame.”

Accepting that, knowing how difficult the sport is and how much time and effort is put in makes Burrows a very good wrestler, Courtney said. Loving the sport over football? That separates him from the red-and-black pack around the school.

“He’s a good football player,” Courtney said. “But his love is wrestling.”

It could have been another sport.

“I started wrestling at Crenshaw Middle School,” Burrows said. “In the sixth grade I went out for basketball but didn’t make the team. My dad suggested I try another sport, so I started wrestling.”

Turns out he was a natural.

“He’s very quick. He can score from anywhere on the mat,” Courtney said. “He’s an extremely tough kid and he’s tough mentally.

“He’s got four losses this year. Two came at the North Canton tournament in the first two weeks of the season, after football playoffs. He lost on a double disqualification to Jackson’s Joe Donley, there’s just a good rivalry there. And he lost 6-2 (to Mentor’s Alex Sweeney) in the district finals.

“He’s got that killer instinct — it’s something you can’t coach.”

Burrows is, obviously, Courtney’s first state qualifier. The last Bulldog to place at state was Steve Bobish in 1988.

“That was my goal, to make it to state,” Burrows said. Then he changed his mind.

“No, I want to place at state,” he said.

He’s not settling. That’s old school.
r_br_burrows1.JPG / Bob Rossiter

McKinley’s Ruben Burrows hopes to experience victory this weekend at the state wrestling tournament in Columbus. A McKinley wrestler has not placed since Steve Bobish in 1989.