Warrenton sophomore Manny McCauley is proving to be a leader for the Warrenton wrestling squad this season, as they look to build on last season’s success.
Wrestling in the 106-pound weight class, McCauley won 14 of his first 16 contested matches this season. McCauley went 15-5 in the 106-pound weight class last season before losing his varsity spot to teammate Joshua Kassing. McCauley noted the challenges of wrestling last season as a freshman, when he only weighed about 90 pounds.
“I still managed. The year came to an end not even due to skill. Just lost my spot to my teammate,” McCauley said. “But honestly, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now if that didn’t happen. That was definitely a learning experience.”
Despite losing his varsity spot to Kassing late last season, Warrenton head wrestling coach Clayton Olsson thinks McCauley wrestled well last year as a freshman. Olsson said McCauley dedicated himself after losing the wrestle-off to Kassing. McCauley maintained a positive work ethic throughout the rest of the season and dedicated himself on the mat and in the weight room in the offseason.
“He doesn’t make excuses,” Olsson said. “He’s here. He’s dedicated. He’s focused. And any obstacle that pops up, he just has that mindset of I got to adjust and I’ve got to overcome. I can’t let this stop me. Which is exactly what you need to be successful in this sport.”
McCauley feels more comfortable competing on the mat this season and believes in his wrestling abilities. He said he still feels nerves prior to and during a match but he described them as “comforting nerves.” He is just worried about achieving a positive outcome in a match. McCauley believes his wrestling abilities have improved from his freshman season to this season. He is better on top and on his feet.
“He’s a little more confident in his abilities,” Olsson said. “A little bit better on top and really controlling the pace of the match. There’s different tactics that you kind of learn like, when do I need to really push the pace? When can I kind of sit back a little bit in different positions where you have to scramble and wrestle differently? A lot of that stuff just comes with experience and mat time.”
McCauley has focused this season on coming in with a set goal and practicing with a purpose. He credits his work outside of practice with helping him take his game to the next level.
McCauley won the GAC title in January in the 106-pound weight class. He went 3-0 in the tournament. He also placed first this season at the Ft. Zumwalt North Invite. He earned a pair of second-place finishes earlier this season at the Harrisonville Tournament and Liberty Tournament.
With districts slated for the middle of February, McCauley’s goal is to place high at the district tournament in February.
“From here on out, I don’t want to take any more losses,” McCauley said in early January. “In districts, obviously the goal is to be a district champ or end up in the finals. There’s still room to improve until then but I feel like things should be up from here.”
McCauley thinks the Warriors as a whole have improved over the course of the season. He said the Warrenton wrestlers have been taking it hard in the practice room with chips on their shoulders. They are trying to make a name for themselves and their abilities.
Despite McCauley only competing in his sophomore season, Olsson sees him as a team leader for the Warrenton wrestling squad. He noted McCauley was the only Warrior wrestler as of early January to not miss a single practice. McCauley is a role model through his actions and also vocally, Olsson said. While serving as a team leader as a sophomore in most sports can be challenging, Olsson thinks wrestling is a unique sport that allows underclassmen to earn the respect of their teammates and be team leaders.
“I think in a lot of other sports, it can be difficult,” Olsson said. “But in the wrestling room, it’s such a unique sport. Everybody has the battles that you go through every day. When you see a young guy like that, even though he’s smaller and younger, going through those battles and adversity and then coming out on top, you have immediate respect for that. So regardless of his age or size, the kids respect him and are listening to him.”
The sophomore does not know whether he will wrestle at the collegiate level after his high school career. He does hope to continue wrestling after graduating from Warrenton.
“Right now, I’m focusing on the sophomore season,” McCauley said. “And if the opportunity comes, I’m going to run with it. Obviously, the goal is to get to the next level. If it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be. But I’m going to work as hard as I can to make it happen.”
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