Council Rock South's Ben Radner is the 2018 Golden Teams wrestler of the year.
It was, in the words of his coach, Brad Silimperi, a "journey that was very long and winding."
That journey has not stopped for Council Rock South's Ben Radner. After placing seventh and earning a medal in the 132-pound weight class at the state tournament in March, Radner has been named the Wrestler of the Year for the Courier Times.
Radner's story is one of perseverance.
He made states at 113 pounds as a freshman, finishing his first season with a 27-11 record.
The sky seemed the limit for Radner, whose strength as a wrestler is his technique. But just as that sky seemed cloudless and filled with sun, a little rain began to fall during his sophomore season.
It started with a drizzle, a broken hand at the Escape the Rock tournament in his home gym. Then it began to pour. The now-120-pounder suffered a concussion at the district team duals tournament. He returned for the state duals tournament only to endure another concussion. Just like that, his season was over.
"I came back my junior year ready to roll," said Radner. "I was a little rusty after missing time, but after I got back on the mat, I had a herniated disc in my neck. I was forced to miss a little time with that. Even when came back I was still not the same wrestler I had been."
His junior season ended at regionals.
He had some doubts about continuing to wrestle during his injury-plagued sophomore season, but he doubled down on his commitment to the sport.
"Everybody says, and it's cliché - have fun with what you're doing," said Radner. "This was the first year I looked forward to practice each day. I'd get down there and try to get in as much work as possible."
That attitude translated into Radner's best season, and another cliché - it's better late than never.
"It was so rewarding to see him break through and get to that (state) podium," said Silimperi. "His name is on the wall (in the team's wrestling room) and nobody can take that away from him."
Radner won his 100th career match on his way to states, doing so in dramatic fashion with a pin in the regional final against Souderton's Tyler Williams, who had edged Radner 4-2 in the district final. At states, he dropped his first match but wrestled back to win three in a row.
"I've been wrestling since I was 5-years-old. I would've liked to place higher, but you can't ask for more of a storybook finish," said Radner.