Ryan Casey has tied the career record for pins with 76 and is just three wins shy of the career victory mark. (Leader photo/File)

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Undefeated Casey set to break record

Published 5:05pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ryan Casey has spent three years excelling on the mat for the Niles High School varsity wrestling team.

Casey now wishes it would have been four years.

After posting a solid 25-17 record as a freshman at 171 pounds, Casey put a sudden halt on his wrestling career.

“It was a last-second decision not to come out,” said Casey. “I mostly wanted to focus on soccer. I never had a chance to play indoor soccer (in the winter) and I never felt I could be any better as a wrestler than I was as a freshman. I felt I had a better chance at doing better at soccer.”

The news hit Niles wrestling coach Todd Hesson hard.

“That was tough,” said Hesson. “As a freshman he had 18 or 19 pins.”

“(Hesson) asked me what was going on and I said what was happening,” Casey said. “He accepted my decision. But, I could tell that he was disappointed.”

That disappointment wouldn’t last for Hesson as Casey would regain his desire to wrestle as a junior.

“To tell you the truth I missed it,” Casey said. “I missed it a lot. I missed not being with my friends. Beating up other kids helped me relieve the stress of everyday life. It was the biggest mistake of my life not to wrestle. I’m most definitely happy now about my decision.”

“It’s all behind us now,” Hesson said. “He’s a wrestler and will always be one.”

The layoff from wrestling didn’t seem to affect Casey as he finished 40-9 at 189 pounds and was a point away from being All-State.

“My goal last year was to make it to state and I got there and I wanted more,” Casey said.

Casey appears primed to take that next step at the state finals this year as he has been one of the leaders on a very successful Niles wrestling team that owns a 29-1 record and is the outright Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West Division champions.

Casey owns a 39-0 record as a senior at 189 pounds with 28 pins. He has 76 career pins which ties a school-record.

“If somebody would have told me that I would be 39-0 I wouldn’t have believe them,” Casey said.

“He’s a little bit better with his feet with takedowns,” Hesson said about how Casey is a different from a wrestler this year compared to previous years. “He’s a hard worker, dedicated, easy to coach and he supports his teammates. He’s been that way his entire career.”

Casey’s leadership has earned him the honor of being a team captain.

The Viking wrestling standout credits others for helping him develop into an elite wrestler.

“I credit teammate Sean Craig,” Casey said. “We bust our butts everyday in practice and he pushes me. Assistant coach Jake Will has stayed after practice and shown me everything I’ve known.”

Casey wants the end of his senior year to be memorable.

“I want to win a district and regional title and I want to place in the top three at state,” Casey said. “It comes down to heart when you wrestle at the state finals.”

“He’s definitely capable of being All-State,” Hesson said. “He’s got a pinner’s chance. He’s always working for that pin. If he gets you on your back he’s not going to let you up. He does a great job of pinning and finishing.”

Casey’s greatest move was following his heart and getting back on the mat.

 

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