By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — Steve Goudy has fond memories of what once was, in the world of high school wrestling coaches, the best day of the year.
“It was like Christmas Day,” the current Troy Christian and former Milton-Union wrestling coach said.
It was the annual release date of the Brakeman Report, the state-wide wrestling rankings that came out in mid-January every year for more than 40 years. In it, wrestling fanatic Brian Brakeman would rank the top 20 or 25 wrestlers in every weight class, by division, for the entire state. The printed copy of the report — often exceeding 100 pages — was copied and distributed to wrestling coaches throughout Ohio as quickly as it was released.
Wrestling coaches across the state relied on it to see not only where their wrestlers ranked, but where the competition stacked up, as well. Particularly in the days before the Internet — Brakeman stopped publishing his annual report in 2013 — it was about the only way coaches, wrestlers and fans could get a possible preview of the upcoming state tournament.
“I had inside guys who knew Brian Brakeman who would get the fax early and run me a copy every year,” Goudy said. “I would drive for miles and miles to get a copy. Before the Internet, before everyone knew what everyone else was doing, it was really your only way to get a scouting report on the competition.
“I remember this because one time I got a speeding ticket doing it, but I used to drive down to Wilmington to get a copy of their newspaper to see what happened in their district. Then I figured out I could just drive down to the Dayton airport to get copies of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Columbus Dispatch to find out what happened in other parts of the state. But you always wanted to get that Brakeman Report.”
Much of that has changed, however, with the rise of Internet rankings and the retirement of Brakeman, the undisputed Ohio high school wrestling authority for more than 40 years. No longer do coaches have to wait 365 days a year for Brakeman’s high school wrestling bible.
To expand on the yuletide analogy, just as the Christmas season has spread from December well back into October — at least as far as the retail world is concerned — the ranking of high school wrestlers and teams now extends from the November preseason all the way until the state tournament in March and, rather than being updated just once per year as the Brakeman report was, they are updated weekly.
In Brakeman’s absence, a pair of figures known mostly by their Internet handles — bucksman and borofan — have emerged as the go-to resources for high school wrestling rankings.
“There are two or three different ranking systems now,” said Miami East coach Mark Rose, who currently has eight wrestlers ranked in their respective weight classes on the borofanohio.net website. “Borofan is good. We do look at the rankings, just to get an idea of who is tough. When I wrestled, the rankings only came out once a year. There wasn’t an Internet and you couldn’t get weekly updates.”
Troy wrestling coach Doug Curnes said he uses borofanohio.net for scouting purposes, particularly when he has a wrestler like senior 126-pounder Joe Pascale, who has a chance of going to state.
“I’m glad he does it,” Curnes said of borofan. “It gives us an idea of who we might see at districts. We use it for information, but it’s just like anything else, you can’t get consumed by it.”
Rose agreed. While the rankings make for a nice scouting tool for coaches, ultimately matches still are decided on the mat and not in the rankings, he said. Ultimately, he doesn’t want his wrestlers to live or die by the rankings.
“Kids who are on that list get beat all the time,” he said. “We tell our kids being on that list doesn’t mean they are going to be on the board at state. The rankings are nice to get an idea of where you are, but you still have to go out and wrestle.”
Goudy — the elder statesman of county wrestling coaches — took things one step further.
“I tell the kids it’s toilet-reading material,” he said. “If you have to occupy some time, go ahead and check the rankings.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong