BARNESVILLE — There was a big announcement in the Barnesville High School commons Wednesday afternoon.
Also, it was a message from the Big 10 as Shamrocks senior Dakota King made his intentions to attend Ohio State University on a wrestling scholarship when he signed his National Letter of Intent.
“Today is super exciting,” King admitted. “I think it’s really good for the Ohio Valley. I’m excited to introduce myself as a Buckeye. I’m really excited about the experience.
“I was born a Bakai. My parents were born Buckeyes. Almost everyone in Ohio is a Buckeye fan,” King emphasized. “I’m happy to finally be able to compete with them.
“It’s a lifelong dream. I grew up watching Ohio State wrestling and now being a member of the team is kind of surreal. I’m training to beat Iowa and Penn State.”
However, before he can even consider the Hawkeyes or Nittany Lions, King has his senior season with the Shamrocks right in front of him.
He is the No. 1 138-pounder in Borofan.com’s Division III preseason rankings. The shamrocks are also ranked number 1 in the team rankings.
“I don’t really look at it (rankings). I just go out there and fight. I don’t try to think too much about who my opponent is.” he suggested.
“I really, really put in a lot of work over the summer to get to where I want to be. There is no doubt that I can win a state title this year.”
King is now a three-time OHSAA winner. He finished sixth as a freshman at 113 pounds, but jumped to third in each of the next two seasons at 120 and 132, respectively.
Before committing to the Buckeyes, King took official visits to Clarion University in Pennsylvania; University of Oklahoma; and West Virginia University. The Buckeyes and Sooners were his top two picks.
So what was the deciding factor between Columbus and Norman?
“(Head coach) Lou Rosselli resigned at Oklahoma, but he came to Ohio State (as an assistant coach), so I have him and the Ohio State coaches,” King noted. “It’s like the best of both worlds.”
Rosselli actively recruited King until his departure from Norman.
King is also a two-time OVAC Ron Mauck Tournament champion. His father, TJ, also won an OVAC title and served as an assistant coach with the Shamrocks.
“My father was all my help. He got me into wrestling when I was two and a half.” said the younger king. “For me to be where I am right now, it’s all down to him. He is my role model.”
He is a three-time Division I wrestler from Barnesville. Tim Moxley signed with Ohio State in the 1980s, and Cade Bunfill attended Edinboro University.
“I think we’ll be adding more to that list sometime this year,” Barnesville head coach Jason Stephen scored.
King transferred from the Cambridge School District to Barnesville prior to his freshman season.
“My teammates were great. They got me to where I am today,” he explained. “I moved here after eighth grade. We all fought together for a club team in Cambridge as youngsters so we’ve been through a lot together.’
“That group of kids all wrestled for a youth club team in Cambridge before Dakota transferred to Barnesville, so they all knew each other. They have all been fighting together for quite some time now,” Stephen added. “It was a good fit for him, so he came and joined our team.
“He and his dad, TJ, thought this was the best situation for him,” Stephen continued. “They made the decision to come here and it worked out well for everyone involved.”
“I’m very excited for Dakota. That’s a big deal…NCAA Division I. You can’t get any higher than that. I’m excited to see what comes of it next season.” Stephen said. “Let him compete and get used to the style of college wrestling and see how he can handle it.
“I think when I finally see him wrestle in an Ohio State jersey, it’s going to really sink in for me. We know this will happen. Even at a small school like Barnesville, every kid has an opportunity and he took advantage of the opportunity that was given to him.”