photo by Nate Thomas
It’s as if everything is traveling in slow motion. Deep breath in and out. Sweat dripping down the side of his face. With the seconds counting down, the title is within his grasp. Three, two, one, Camden Russell, is a Class A State Champion.
On Feb. 16, 2019, senior Camden Russell became a Class A State Championship Wrestler, because of the dedication and perseverance he has put into this sport. In the previous year, Russell came up short placing second in his weight division but that never stopped his passion and perseverance for the sport. For most of his high school career, a state championship has been the center accomplishment that Russell has been working for.
“Winning State was like the first step to accomplishing the rest of my goals,” Russell said. “I want to be a National Champion and be on a World Team, but being a State Champ was something I had wanted since I was a little kid.”
The combative sport of wrestling has been a part of Russell’s life since he was the age of 6. For eight years, he has been a part of the MWC Wrestling Academy, a competitive program that train athletes from across Nebraska to fulfill their athletic career goals. The skills and team unity Russell has learned through the program has granted him the ability to better not only himself but his teammates as well.
“As we started getting to know each other he was just there,” senior Levi May said. “He pushed me at practice and tournaments, supporting me throughout my high school career and being helpful.”
Through the MWC Wrestling Academy, Russell has been given opportunities like no other athlete. In years past, he has traveled overseas and competed in tournaments against athletes from all over the world. Shortly after state his junior year, Russell battled in a tournament in the country of Austria. Although his bracket contained two other competitors, Russell came out on top and won the tournament.
The experiences he has learned from world wide training, allowed Russell to fulfill his goal of a State Championship and bring him one step closer to accomplishing his other goals.
Throughout the tournament, the Wildcat wrestling team competed at their very best. On Feb. 15, Russell went through four overtimes in the semi-finals against his opponent from Papillion La-Vista High School. On Saturday, Russell was prepared to put in the work to accomplish his goal. In the first 30 seconds of his match, he scored against his opponent with a take down, and throughout the rest of the match, he controlled the momentum. From the sidelines, his coaches and family were cheering for him through the three rounds till the time ran out.
“It was a sense of relief,” head coach Scott Townsley said. “I know the time and effort Camden and his family have put into this sport and to see all of the work pay off, it was just a sense of relief as the time ran out.”
Even as opponents, the community of wrestling radiates sportsmanship. They all come together during competitions bond and help each other. When it comes down to business, each athlete is in the zone but as soon as the match ends, the athletes come together.
“I believe that wrestling is the best sport when it comes to building friendships,” Russell said. “During the parade of champions, we’re all just talking and having a good time.”
Russell’s high school wrestling career has come to an end, however, his passion for wrestling is not over. He plans to wrestle at a collegiate level, and continue to achieve the goals of becoming a National Champion.
This Wildcat champion has left his claw marks on the mat.
This story was originally published on The Catalyst on February 28, 2019.