Wrestling its way to a district championship – Web Exclusive

Ian Howard | Staff Writer

On any high school team, great athletes graduate and new team champions are formed, but the process is seamless in Mason wrestling, according to head coach Craig Murnan. Murnan said that this comes from the hard work ethic and that the younger wrestlers possess.

“Our underclassmen understand they might be able to start, but they have to wait their turn,” Murnan said.

This team psyche produces results, according to Murnan. In their respective weight classes in the state of Ohio, 11 wrestlers are ranked in the top twenty. As a team, Mason wrestling is ranked third in the city. Murnan said that the team generally bobbles between tenth and fifteenth place at the state level, but this year the team aims for better than tenth place, a feat that they have been vaguely working towards since Murnan became coach.

“Since 2002, we have been constantly growing our schedule,” Murnan said.

Besides initiative, another piece of the team’s success is its shared practice time, according to Murnan. While many varsity high school sports split up their junior varsity and varsity athletes, all wrestlers practice in the same room at the same time.

“If I’ve got a really good freshman, he can wrestle a varsity starter, [which helps him prepare for higher competition],” Murnan said.

Despite the whole-team practice situation, Murnan said that seniority and the fact that more experienced wrestlers are generally better tends to keep underclassmen away from the starting line.

“Our sophomore class is loaded, but…maybe one or two of them have seen the varsity line up,” Murnan said.

Senior Aaron Walden made it to the “highest level” of competition last year, and this year he said he is even more confident about his abilities on the mat.

“Last year I went to [the] State [championship],” Walden said. “This year, I’m doing better and I’ve won a lot of matches that I thought I couldn’t win.”

Quite a bit of wrestling success can be owed to what goes on outside the gym, according to Walden.

“I’m doing better with my grades and [I’ve been] able to flow more into wrestling than I have before,” Walden said.

However, Walden said that his goals such as cracking the “top eight” – the eight best-ranking wrestlers at State – do not end with himself. Walden said that he also has a lot of confidence in what the team as a whole is capable of.

“I want to win the district championship, [and I think we can] because we have a really good team put together,” Walden said. “Here in the next couple of tournaments we’ve got it pretty much figured out,” Walden said.