JIM PETERS: State titles remain special to Chesterton's Davison, 25 years later

2014-02-20T17:00:00Z 2014-02-21T01:40:07Z JIM PETERS: State titles remain special to Chesterton's Davison, 25 years laterJim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
February 20, 2014 5:00 pm  • 

Every now and then, one of Keith Davison's sons will pull their dad's heavily-adorned Chesterton letterman's jacket out of the closet, put it on and post pictures of themselves on Twitter.

They'll also look at the rings from his three state wrestling championships, two as an individual and another as a member of the 1989 Trojans wrestling team.

"It comes up quite a bit," said Davison, whose three boys all wrestle. "Anybody who's been around since back in the day brings it up."

Davison will be honored Sunday by the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association on the 25th anniversary of his second title, which coincided with Chesterton's victory, the school's first by a team in any sport.

"Back then, obviously, it was a surreal experience," Davison said. "We'd stated that it was a goal of ours, but to think that it would really come true, it was really a bit of a shock."

By the time the finals rolled around, coach Bob Trzeciak's math showed that the Trojans already had the title locked up. Davison defended his 171-pound weight class, while Jeff Aaron was runner-up at 125, losing for the fifth time to Merrillville's Mark Rosenbalm. Aaron was 42-0 against the rest of the state. Ryan Jackson placed third at 160. No other Trojans scored.

"In addition to knocking off some important point-getters for other contenders, lightning struck from other sources," Davison said. "It was a good deal of hard work, but there was also some luck."

Chesterton returned home to a hero's welcome, receiving an escorted ride around town. No region wrestling team had won state since 1963 (Hammond) and only one, Crown Point (2009), has since.

It was a big year on the mats for all of Northwest Indiana with Wirt's Dwone Williams (103), Hammond's Omar Martin (152), Hobart cradler extraordinaire Rob Pavletic (160) and Roosevelt's George Porter (heavyweight) also garnering titles.

"Pavletic … lost to Ryan every time they wrestled," said Chesterton coach Chris Joll, then a young assistant on the staff. "Ryan lost to a big cradler from Fort Wayne Northrop. Rob was not so affected by that move."

Davison considered Joll an integral part of his success, which led to a scholarship to Wisconsin.

"He beat me up, but I soaked it up to where I was able to compete," Davison said. "He definitely made me a better wrestler as well as a person. I remind people that I was fortunate to have a room full of great coaches and workout partners there to motivate me every practice."

Not one to point to his name on the practice room wall, Davison motivates without bringing attention to himself. He will miss Sunday's banquet in order to coach kids from the Duneland Wrestling Club in a tournament. The honor is nice, but helping future Chesterton wrestlers takes priority.

"My son Jack asked me how I went from a marginal wrestler my freshman year to doing so well my third year," Davison said. "I chipped away at it little by little. I did pushups looking up at the (names) of the other (two Chesterton state champions, John Dehart and Jim Popp). It went from a dream to a goal to a reality. It was a culture where it was cool to work hard."

Twenty-five years later, that culture could be making a comeback in Chesterton wrestling, and Davison will again be an integral part of it.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at james.peters@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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