COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Circleville High School junior Nate Keaton won the 2017 Division II State Championship wrestling title for the 113-pound weight class Saturday at Value City Arena. His victory fulfilled his family’s dream, but it also fulfilled an even deeper promise he made to his mom, Angie.
“She was at every tournament I can imagine,” said Keaton, who started wrestling at the age of 6.
Angie was known for her loud cheers in the stands as she watched her son wrestle in every match. “It was kind of weird because like, she’s never been a part of wrestling, and just like that, she loved it,” said Nate.
A love she shared with her husband, Kevin Keaton, who is Nate’s wrestling coach at Circleville High School.
“She was their cheerleader, she didn’t know a whole lot about wrestling…she got better throughout the years, a lot of times she had no idea what she was yelling…she was just always rooting for Nate,” said Kevin with a chuckle.
As a mom of four children, Angie was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, and she lost her four year battle with the disease in 2015.
Competing in his first tournament after losing his mom, Nate became the first wrestler from Circleville to win the prestigious Ironman Wrestling Tournament.
“When I wrestle, I just try and give it all for her…and I know she’s proud no matter what I do, win or lose,” said Nate.
However, before his mom passed away, Nate promised her he would one day win the state title, and when the whistle blew in his 1-0 victory in the state final match, Nate fulfilled his promise.
“To finally win a state title, that was amazing, it definitely got some stuff off my shoulders, and excited I could finally do it because I know they’d both be really proud,” said Nate.
When Kevin placed the championship medal around Nate’s neck, it was a special moment for father and son.
“When I was standing on the podium, kind of getting emotional then,” said Nate.
“He did it, and it was still a little bit different feeling with Ang not being there, but she’s still with us, I feel good about that,” said Kevin.