By David Fong
CASSTOWN — With every wrestling season, Mark Rose is proving Thomas Wolfe wrong.
In his 1940 best-selling novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” Wolfe tells the fictional tale of author George Webber, who achieves success worldwide, but finds himself a pariah upon his return to his hometown of Libya Hill.
Rose has found no such problems navigating his return home.
Rose was a state placer for the Miami East wrestling team in the 1990s. Following his graduation from Miami East, he went on to earn Division II All-American honors while wrestling at Ashland University. Rose also played football for the Eagles.
After graduating from Ashland, he would return home to become a teacher and coach at his alma mater. Since then, Rose and his staff have gone on to solidify an already-respected Miami East program as one of the toughest small-school programs in the state.
All of that hard work by Rose and his staff helped produce one of the most successful seasons in school history, as the Vikings won their first sectional title since 1994, their first district title in school history and the best team finish at the state tournament in school history.
For his efforts in leading the way for Miami East this season, Rose has been been named the Troy Daily News Boys Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 school year. The award is a tribute not only to Rose, but his coach staff of Rich Randall, Jason Sroufe and Stewart Strubler.
“‘Rosey’ has always been steady,” Miami East athletic director Scott Donaldson said. “He and his staff do a great job. The expectations are always high for our wrestling team out here, and Rosey does a good job managing that. Rich is a great assistant coach and Jason and Stewart do a great job at the junior high. Wrestling is a grind, man. Those coaches do a great job.”
Miami East dominant through the regular season last winter — often winning tournaments against much larger schools — then truly kicked things into high gear once the postseason arrived.
At the Division III sectional tournament, Miami East racked up 244 points, enough for the Vikings’ first sectional title in nearly a quarter-century. Six Vikings won individual titles, 12 out of 12 wrestlers placed, 10 placed in the top four to earn a trip to districts and two placed in the top five to become district alternates.
At the district tournament, three Miami East wrestlers won district titles, while another placed third, sending four wrestlers to the state tournament. A total of six wrestlers placed in the top six for the Vikings at the district meet.
At the state tournament in Columbus, seniors Alex Isbrandt and Graham Shore both became four-time state placers; they were just the second and third wrestlers to accomplish that feat in school history.
Isbrandt placed fourth while wrestling with an injured shoulder, while Shore become just the second wrestler in Miami East history to win a state title, joining three-time state champion Ryan Gambill. As a team, Miami East finished eighth, the highest finish in school history.
Following the season, Rose was name Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Coach of the Year, while Randall was named GMVWA Assistant Coach of the Year.
“I’ve had great coaches,” Shore said after winning his state title. “I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunities I’ve had. Our coaches do a great job getting us ready for every match.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong