Youngster trying to crack Lincoln-Way East’s varsity roster Rory Moran He found himself blocked by a pair of established wrestlers.
That’s why Moran wrestled at the JV level for nearly the entire season. Determined to find a way to get his shot, he began gaining weight, going from 150 pounds to 165 pounds in two classes.
Now he is not only a varsity champion, but also a regional champion.
“I’ve been waiting for my turn for a long time,” Moran said. “This is the most amazing feeling in the world.”
Moran, who wrestled just one varsity match all season and entered Saturday’s Class 3A Rich County Regional, rose to the top of the podium from No. 165 in a surprise win over Lincoln-Way Central. Tim Key 8-2 in the final.
He collected vital points to lead the Griffins to their first regional team title since 2007. Lincoln-Way East defeated Lincoln-Way West 208-206.5.
“He’s actually a kid who leaves it all hanging around,” the Lincoln-Way East coach said. Kevin Rockett He mentioned Moran. “Maybe it was a good thing he didn’t wrestle these kids all year, so he shouldn’t have been in their head or anything. He didn’t care who he wrestled. He just put it there.
“We told him, ‘You have nothing to lose.’ “We owe a lot of this regional title to him.”
Moran made the varsity roster for part of his freshman season but has since struggled to return while finding success on the JV team.
Griffins have seniors Domanic Bee and young Alex Lizak locked at 150 and 157 respectively. Moran saw a possible opportunity at 165. He earned the spot by winning a challenge match in practice before regionals.
“I tried to gain some muscle and weight throughout the season, and yeah, 165,” Moran said. “I told my coach, ‘I think I’m ready for 165.’ “I fought for the 165th place and I won and now I’m here.”
Moran is a multi-sport athlete with a unique combination. He is also a college golfer.
“My mental strength wasn’t good in golf, but it got better during the high school season,” he said. “I think developing mental strength in golf really helped my mental strength in wrestling.”
After winning the championship match on Saturday, Moran was attacked by delighted wrestling teammates, including his younger friends. Tyson Zvonar.
“I saw a lot of courage, a lot of heart and a lot of confidence from Rory,” Zvonar said. “It was great to see him win. I’m really happy for him.”
Zvonar, Lizak and Caden O’Rourke (215) was also Lincoln-Way East’s regional champion.
The Griffins are ranked No. 12 in Class 3A by the Illinois Matmen, behind regional rivals Lincoln-Way West (No. 6) and Lincoln-Way Central (No. 11).
But Lincoln-Way East, which finished as the regional runner-up to Lockport the last two seasons, came out on top this time.
“This means everything,” Zvonar said. “As a team, we have been trying to overcome the obstacle of winning a regional for a long time. Finally, we were able to do it.”
And Moran certainly helped the Griffins get there.
“When we put him in the lineup, we knew we had to get something from him and we knew we could get some points from him,” Rockett said. “We didn’t know we could get that out of him.”
Moran wasn’t sure either.
“I didn’t know if I had a chance to win, but I had the mindset that I wanted to win and I was going to win,” Moran said. “I’m happy to be part of the team now.”