Hitting the Mark

  • By Daniel Whitehead
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  • February 03, 2011 08:33 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University wrestler Shane Young knows a good target when he sees one.

When he set his eyes on reaching the championship bouts at a recent tournament in Reno, Nev., he wasn’t going to be denied, even if it meant wrestling eight matches before the actual championship match – all in one day.

Starting with an opening round loss, he rung off seven straight victories, including one over Navy’s 17th-ranked Aaron Kalil in the consolation semifinals, before eventually falling to Wyoming’s Tyler Cox in the championship round. The 125-pound grappler ended the tournament with an impressive fourth-place finish, having wrestled a total of nine matches for the event.

“That was definitely the most matches I’ve wrestled in one day,” the Jeannette, Pa., native said. “I was disappointed after the first match and not making it to the championship bout, but I was able to make it through nine matches, so overall, I was pretty happy about the tournament.”

With a 23-6 record on the year thus far, the sophomore is building off a respectable 16-10 freshman campaign in which he defeated several ranked opponents and qualified for the NCAA Tournament having made a solid adjustment from the high school ranks. The Penn-Trafford High product was a three-time state champion and one of Pa's top recruits.

“In college, you can’t just rely on one or two moves,” he said. “You have to have more setups and you have to be better in all areas of the game. In college, every match is a battle. You never have an easy match. You always have to be ready because you can be beaten at any time. There were a few matches last year that I should not have lost. It’s just a much higher level of competition.”

WVU coach Craig Turnbull is pleased with Young’s efforts early in his Mountaineer career.

“There are very few athletes who come in here and start as true freshmen,” Turnbull said. “Those that do rarely see the level of success that Shane had last year. The transition from high school to college wrestling usually takes at least a year. Shane was one who adjusted quickly and was able to make an immediate impact.

“He’s wrestling with a high level of confidence and he’s one of the guys we’re counting on to get us wins and bonus points for the team. We’re very pleased with his growth. He’s becoming more technically diverse with his moves and is able to do more against each style of wrestler,” Turnbull added.

In Friday’s matchup with No. 20 Pitt, Young will have the unique challenge of going up against one of his former Club Quest wrestling partners, Anthony Zanetta. Young enters the match ranked No. 18 while Zanetta is No. 20. Having earned starting spots on their respective rosters as true freshmen last season, Zanetta twice defeated Young - once during the regular season and once for the EWL Championship.

Young says that when a wrestler is out there on the mat with one of his buddies, he can’t be sensitive to the situation.

“Once you’re out on the mat, you have a different mindset and you don’t really see it as wrestling against your friend,” Young said. “Off the mat, we’re still friends and everything is cool. We know each other’s moves, so it’s always a tough match.”

Turnbull is fully aware of the duo’s past and offers Young a piece of advice heading into the match.

“They know each other so well, which makes it a little more challenging,” he said. “But when it’s time to wrestle, it’s time to wrestle - It doesn’t matter who it is. Shane will need to wrestle him like he would anybody else. It will be a very hard-fought match. There’s no way to predict how it will come out.”

Wherever he is wrestling, Young knows he will have strong support from his parents, Mike and Denise, who make it out to almost all of his events.

“It helps that they’re always there for me and supporting me,” he said. “I can always tell their voices out in the stands urging me on. My older brother, Tim, is also a big support. Our uncle is the one who got us into wrestling as kids and I was able to wrestle with Tim for one year in high school.”

Growing up, Young played basketball and football before deciding to focus on wrestling. Outside of competition, Shane enjoys the outdoors and going hunting or fishing with his dad and brother when they’re not out on the golf course. He nabbed two deer on a recent hunting trip with Tim and he enjoys the outdoors so much that he recently switched his major from physical education to Wildlife and Fisheries Resources.

Academics are another area of life he sets high goals to achieve.

“It’s tough balancing school with wrestling practice and traveling all over the place for competitions, but I enjoy it,” he said. “You have to be organized and get yourself on a good schedule if you want to earn good grades.”

Whether he’s on the wrestling mat, the classroom, or somewhere in the wilderness, Young has a target and will do all that he can to hit the mark.