June 24, 2016


All-Gazette wrestling: Vidka willed way to D-III crown

It’s one thing to say you want to be a state champion. Thousands of wrestlers do each season.
Sebastian Vidika talked the talk and walked the walk.
Whether it was an offseason practice session, a 15-0 blowout win at a midseason tournament or a match in front of thousands of fans with a state title on the line, the Black River senior wasn’t going to be denied.
“I was just determined to get it,” Vidika said matter-of-factly. “I had the experience of being down (at state as a junior), and I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way.”
The determination and grit allowed him capture the
106-pound Division III championship and Gazette MVP.
It started by never being satisfied and always improving.
“That’s a testament to him and that’s what got him to where he wanted to get to. He just kept pushing,” Black River coach Corey Kline said. “This year, the difference was I didn’t have to push him. I had to help him find the next level. He was driving me this year.”
From the minute the final whistle blew at last season’s state tournament — where Vidika walked off that mat fourth — the 18-year-old was set on one thing.
It was all he could think about. It was all he wanted.
While the typical athlete would have kept telling himself how great it would be to stand atop the podium, Vidika didn’t. He used every match as preparation for the next one.
“I took maybe a month off, and then I was into freestyle or Greco or any practice I could find,” he said. “I would lift all the time, go to tournaments and go just any place I could get more experience.
“That was just my mentality. It’s like the quote that the Navy Seals have that ‘The only easy day was yesterday.’ I want to improve every single day. You can’t expect to stay the same and get better.”
When the season officially started, Vidika stayed after practice and even trained on Sundays. The result was a regular season in which he lost just once — a 5-1 setback at the Marion Harding Classic to Shawnee’s Hunter Lucas, who placed fourth in D-II.
Vidika was cruise control when the postseason started. The aggressive 5-foot-5 standout made it look easy en route to winning the Patriot Athletic Conference, Independence Sectional and Garfield Heights District crowns to lock up his third straight state berth.
There were no celebrations after those titles. They were just another step on the ladder.
“You can be good, you can great or you can be beyond great,” Kline said. “At sectionals, he came off the mat after handling his opponent and I told him that was unacceptable. He made so many stupid mistakes, and you can’t have those if you want to accomplish big things.”
Vidika adopted the personality of his coach.
“I wasn’t happy with a technical fall or even when I won by pin,” he said. “There was always something that I found or the coaches found that I could work on. I used all my matches as preparation so that I was better prepared.”
He was.
Vidika stepped on the mat at Value City Arena in Columbus and pinned West Lafayette Ridgewood’s Colton Bethel in 44 seconds before running off wins over George Clemens of Wayne Trace (10-4) and Jake Adkins of Johnstown Northridge (6-2) to set up the state final.
Vidika embraced the pressure, however, to face Dayton Christian’s Hunter Bray, who ended Vidika’s season the year before.
“It was definitely an awesome feeling knowing that I had (Bray) again,” he said. “Even if it wasn’t him, I would have the same motivation. I just blocked everything out because it was my last match.
“I had to lay everything on the line and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.”
The result was a gritty 7-5 decision and an exclamation point on a season that was worth every extra second of practice and rep on the bench press.
Along with winning more than 100 career matches, Vidika broke school records for most career near falls (259) and technical falls in a season (16).
Not too shabby for someone who wrestled just seven varsity matches a freshman and worked to become a state qualifier, placer and champion.
“His work ethic is a double-edged sword because it keeps us coaches coming back for more,” Kline said with a laugh. “He’s the kid that we old men coaches can blame for us keep doing it.
“Now he made us enjoy it that much more.”
Contact Dan Brown
at sports@medina-gazette.com.