Friday, January 05, 2001

Wrestling a family tradition for Rubergs

Harrison's Tim off to 13-2 start, sister Shelly strives for varsity

By Chris Yeager
Enquirer Contributor

        For Harrison senior Tim Ruberg, wrestling is an expression of family values. His father, Mark, wrestled at LaSalle. Two cousins, Jason and Jeff Ruberg, are Florida wrestlers. And Tim's sister, Shelly, is in her second season on the Harrison squad.

        Winning is also a family tradition. In 1975, Mark Ruberg finished second in the state at 145 pounds. Cousin Jason placed third in Florida as a sophomore last season. Jeff is a two-time Florida high school champion.

        Two seasons ago, Tim was a state qualifier. Last season, he placed third at 152 pounds in the Ohio state meet, losing to the eventual champ from Lakewood St. Edward.

        A state championship being this year's goal, Ruberg is off to a good start. He's 13-2, with both losses coming at last weekend's Brecksville tournament. The weekend before, Ruberg won the Medina Invitational's 160-pound weight class.

        Participating in a family tradition, especially such a successful one, makes the hard work that much more rewarding for Ruberg.

        “My dad and I talk about wrestling every day. Though I like the coaches to do the coaching, I love having my dad as a fan,” Ruberg said. “My dad's my best friend. But I'd like to get one up on him,” said Ruberg.

        Mark Ruberg started wrestling as a LaSalle freshman, crediting his coach, Bill Felschner, for being a "great teacher.' Two of Mark's siblings followed him through the LaSalle program. Since then, the sport's been a means of keeping family bonds tight.

        “I don't think there's a family outing where a coffee table doesn't get broken,” Mark said with a laugh.

        With so much exposure to the sport, it isn't surprising Shelly, a Harrison junior, joined her brother.

        “When I was younger, I'd get on the mats after watching tournaments and wrestle whoever I could,” Shelly said. “I kept stats for the team in junior high. Last year, I realized that if I didn't finally try out then I never would.”

        Competing at 130 pounds, Shelly said she's challenging every week for a varsity spot.

        “My dad stays after practice to teach me. And if Tim sees me doing something wrong during practice, he'll get on me. It's awesome to have so much support,” she said.

        Perhaps it would take something like familial love to shift Tim's focus. He's got one more shot at winning a state championship.

        “I'm really working on my weaknesses in practice now, and making mental changes, too,” said Ruberg.

        Harrison coach Chad Dennis likes Ruberg's chances.

        “Tim is extremely mentally tough,” Dennis said. '"He probably wrestled 100 matches last summer. Tim is a multi-dimensional wrestler. During a match he can adjust to where he needs to be to win,”

        Area coaches agree this year's local crop of wrestlers is one of the strongest in years. Along with Moeller's Joe Zinkan, Lakota West's Matt McIntire, or Clermont Northeastern's Aaron Keough, Tim Ruberg has an attitude that tends to separate champions from contenders.

        “I hate losing,” said Ruberg.

        It's probably a family trait.

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