Two years ago, as a sophomore middle linebacker at Eastwood, Matt Schling
|Eastwood wrestler Matt Schling gets
his opponent into a hold. (Press photo
by Lee Welch/www.familyphotogroup.com)
made a tackle against Woodmore and his head snapped back in the process.
He suffered nerve damage to his C-5 vertebrae, and the injury has bothered him ever since. In fact, it forced him to miss five games as a senior guard/middle linebacker last fall.
"It's been getting worse," said Schling, a senior who competes at 215 and 285 pounds for coach Joe Wyant's Eagles wrestling team. "I'm in constant pain all day, and it gets worse when I wrestle. I have to be a lot more careful with the shots I take. If I hit somebody too hard with my head, it causes extreme pain and I can't use my arm. I can't move it or control it."
Schling, who stands 5-9 and normally weighs 225 pounds, has still managed to excel on the mat. He has a 36-6 record with 20 pins this season and has a 118-37 career mark.
He went 8-1 at the Napoleon Dual Meet Tournament earlier this season and placed second at a tournament in Eaton. The Brakeman Report has him rated as the 13th-best heavyweight in the state in Division II.
Schling is 7-0 with three pins at heavyweight this season.
"We're just a better team if he bounces (between weight classes)," Wyant said. "I have a decent heavyweight (senior Josh Proch) and a backup 215-pounder (senior John Griffith) who is pretty good. I usually put Matt on the better kid. We're just a better team that way.
"For sectionals, he'll probably go heavyweight. Matt really enjoys wrestling heavyweights because he's so much quicker than most heavyweights. Takedowns are his best thing because he's real quick and strong. He's very coachable. He's got to be smart when he takes on kids who outweigh him by 40 or 50 pounds."
Schling said he enjoys competing against heavyweights.
"I like 285," he said, "because I like the challenge of wrestling somebody bigger and supposedly stronger than me. It's not a whole lot different. It's still wrestling. I just wrestle the same way. I try to use my quickness."
Schling placed sixth at heavyweight at last year's district tournament. His opportunity to qualify for the state tournament evaporated with a triple-overtime loss in the semifinals to the eventual district champ.
"That really does motivate me," Schling admitted. "I've thought about that and a few other losses in the year that were really close. That really drove me."
Wyant said Schling worked harder than ever during the offseason.
"He did more wrestling than he did in the past," the coach said. "His goal is to be a state qualifier."
The last Eastwood heavyweight to reach the state tournament was Colton Schulte in 2006.
Schling, who won the 215-pound title at last year's Suburban Lakes League tournament, said his goal is not only to qualify for state, but to finish in the top eight and earn a medal.
"I'm wrestling really good," he said. "I'm happy with the way I've been wrestling lately. I've been improving every week and I haven't been making many mistakes."
Eastwood wrestler Matt Schling gets his opponent into a hold. (Press photo by Lee Welch/www.familyphotogroup.com)