The four previous Falcon champions that now grace the wall in the wrestling room include Greg Faunda, 1997 state champ; Steve Sletvold, 1997 state runner up and national champ; Mike Trgovac, 1977 state champion; and the most recent Tony Jameson, four-time state champion from 2005 to 2008.
“We can add another champion when we get one,” said wrestling head coach Brett Powell. “And believe me, we’re taking applications.”
The whole mural was an idea that came about after a trip to Ohio State University and seeing OSU wrestling coach Russ Hellickson’s wrestling room. Former Buckeye wrestling champions were pictured on the walls in vinyl along with their title information.
“He had cutouts of his champions,” Powell said. “I always dreamed we could get something nice at Austintown that would set us apart.”
Powell said the dream became reality after contact was made with SFC Inc., out of Toledo. The company provided a book that showed renderings of what they could do. They actually make a vinyl poster that is formed to the cement block. The wall-size poster can include life-size cutouts of past champions taken right off a photograph.
“We liked what we saw,” Powell said. “And believe me, the final product is far better than we had bargained for.”
To put such a big project in motion required funding. Powell said the Austintown Township trustees came up with the lion’s share and through other donations, the funding was put in place to get the job done. Not only did it include the champions in the wrestling room, but it also included running the wall murals down the hallway of the fitness center, which includes the weight room and football room, which houses another beyond-the-ordinary feature.
The northern wall of the main hall contains a series of large picture frames that house the pages of the book, “Fitch Falcon Football, a 79-year chronicle,” written by Gene McCalpin. It is actually like a look back in time.
“The fitness center is becoming like a sports museum,” Powell said. “It really gives us a chance to honor our great athletes.”
He added that seeing past state champions every day at wrestling practice can be a motivational factor for this year’s team.
Powell talked with staff from SFC Inc. who informed him that Fitch may be the first high school in the country to have the murals of past champions displayed. Company representatives told Powell they have done more than 30 colleges, but Fitch is the first high school ever to use their vinyl murals.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Austintown’s four-time state wrestling champion Tony Jameson has been immortalized on the wall of the Fitch wrestling room, thanks to the community coming together to give the Falcon sports and fitness center a look previously used by colleges only. See more photos at http://cu.towncrieronline.com/galleries/index.php?id=314081