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Coventry wrestling team off to strong start

12/26/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COVENTRY — Through Dec. 20, the Coventry High School wrestling team was out to a 12-0 start, which head coach Keith Shinn called “a pleasant surprise.”

“We’re a very young team. Our lineup is dominated by freshmen and sophomores,” he said. “And we have had young men in and out of the lineup. At one point, we had three state alternates out of the lineup at the same time. But the team has had a lot of hard work and dedication. They practice three hours daily, and that’s just been the routine within the program. These young men don’t whine or complain about anything.”

The team is led by a trio of seniors, who each have been in the program for four years. Those three wrestlers, with comments by Shinn, are:

  • Michael Fagan (152 and 160 pounds): “He’s got over 100 career wins, and he started this season at 14-4. His ability to adapt as a wrestler and his technique have improved over the years. He has shown some real versatility throughout his career.”
  • Evan Chenot (170 pounds): “He had a nonstop offseason plan between strength training and freestyle wrestling. He really worked hard to get himself in a good position.”
  • Austin Shields (138 pounds): “Austin lost his focus last year and decided he was going to walk away from the wrestling program almost exactly a year ago. But after the season last year, he was, by far, one of my most dedicated wrestlers. He atoned for his mistake, and he worked hard in the offseason to obtain the success he’s having on the mat right now. He is 15-5 on the season already.”

According to Shinn, the team’s best turn-around performance this season has been the one given by sophomore Chris Cook (182 pounds).

“Right now, he is our team leader in wins. He has 17 wins with only three losses,” the coach said. “He’s not a natural, gifted wrestler, but he’s one of the hardest workers on the team. He’s worked hard to improve his weaknesses, and his toughness has improved so much. His teammates have seen the climb he’s made from a losing season last year, where I don’t think he even reached 17 wins total. I think his record was 15-25 last year, and now he’s coming in at 17-3 and doing very well.”

Another key wrestler this season, Shinn said, has been Mark Weddell.

“He’s a junior, but this is only his second year in the program,” the coach said. “Last year, he wrestled in the 220-pound weight class, and he had 33 pins for us. This year, he has 15 wins and 14 pins. That’s been huge for us.”

One change for the program this year, Shinn said, has been the addition of assistant coach Josh Rohler.

“He’s a former Penn State wrestler and a state placer in Ohio,” Shinn said. “Together, we work on the physical toughness and mental toughness of our wrestlers, and I think that’s really come a long way.”

Shinn said Coventry’s realistic goals for this season are 20-plus wins as a team and an undefeated conference record. And with the way the season has progressed thus far, the coach said his goals keep getting higher.

“As mat time increases, we have seen the abilities of our young wrestlers,” he said. “Everything from now until the beginning of February is nothing more than dress rehearsal for the important road to the state tournament in Columbus, but with the group of young men we have right now, I believe we can get multiple wrestlers down to the state tournament to compete.”

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