226 & Counting…

Zach Campbell (right) was in town Friday to help Ayden Horner celebrate his 226th career victory, breaking Campbell’s 11-year-old record.

TMB’S Ayden Horner made school history Friday when he earned his 226th career wrestling victory

By Per Peterson

This photo of Ayden Horner with coach Rick Johnson was taken in 2011 — the year Zach Campbell set the record for most wrestling victories in TMB history. Horner broke that record Friday. Tracy Area Headlight Herald file photo

The past met the present on the wrestling mat at the Plum Creek Duals on Friday, as history was made.

Immediately after the referee’s hand slapped the mat signaling a pin by Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 132-pound senior Ayden Horner over Worthington’s Vincent Vanderkooi, the home crowd, “226” signs in hand, erupted in jubilation to celebrate Horner’s school record 226th career win.

The man he passed, Zach Campbell, then joined Horner on that same mat to honor Tracy Area High School’s new all-time wins leader.

“It feels awesome; it was really nice for Zach to do what he did,” Horner said after he and his teammates wrapped up a 3-1 day. “It shows what kind of person he is. I feel awesome, but it’s not my main goal — that comes at the end of the year.”

Campbell, who finished his high school wrestling career in the 135-pound weight class, said he is proud of Horner’s accomplishment, even though it meant knocking him from the top spot he has held for a decade.

“I’m glad he’s had the success that he’s had,” Campbell said. “He’s earned every bit of it. I’m glad it was him. He’s been able to stay healthy, stay on the mat and keep his head right enough to keep coming back every day. The season’s just brutal; everyone gets knocked down once in a while … but his resilience and ability to keep healthy in both body and mind have helped him.”

Zach’s father, TMB coach Karl Campbell, complimented his son for making the trip to Tracy to be there for Ayden’s big day.

“I think it was the right way to do it,” Karl said. “It was very classy, and I think both guys appreciated that moment. We had talked about it, and I sent Zach a text earlier in the week and said I was pretty sure he’s going to get it on Friday. He said, ‘I’ll be there.’”

Like Campbell, who earned his 225th win during his senior year in 2011, Horner started wrestling on the varsity team when he was a seventh-grader. Since then, he has exhibited the durability needed to reach such a milestone. That, his coach said, is one of his greatest attributes.

“This wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when,” Campbell said. “The thing of it is — and a lot of people don’t realize this — you’ve gotta be durable and you’ve gotta be able to stay on the mat. A lot of things have to fall into place for this to happen.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.