Zach Kearney wasn’t exactly the prototype of a future state wrestling champion.
As a freshman, Kearney weighed 130 pounds and ran cross country in the fall. Just two years later, he had added over 70 pounds to his frame and was competing in a state finals match.
Kearney surprised many in the area last winter by winning gold in Columbia, defeating Boonville’s Kyle Cook 5-4 in the 220-pound Class 2 championship match.
Kearney admitted he was a bit surprised, and proud, of his two-year improvement.
“I felt I’ve come a long way and worked really hard to get to that point,” he said. “I don’t think people gave me much of a chance.
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“It motivated me a little bit. I knew I was capable, but I had to the work in.”
Kearney also qualified for state as a sophomore at 170, going 2-2 in Columbia that year.
But he said goodbye to cross country for his junior year to focus on wrestling. Another weight gain occurred, as Kearney moved up to the 220-pound level.
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“It was hitting the weight (room) more,” said Kearney, who plans on wrestling in the same weight class for his senior season at Reeds Spring High School. “And I eat a lot, too.
“I couldn’t really run cross country anymore and wrestle at (220).”
Kearney got two first-round pins and a medical forfeit to reach the finals against Cook.
“I just remembering looking up at the clock and seeing there was 10 seconds left,” Kearney said of his last match. “When it was over… I don’t know… I was just so happy what I had accomplished. It was unreal.”
Summer time means more wrestling for Kearney, who competes on the national level with a club team. His club team is based out of St. Louis, so Kearney will stay there up to three days at a time for practice sessions.
“I also focus a lot on nationals,” Kearney said. “I’ve got the Super 32 coming up, which is basically the toughest tournament I’ve ever been in. I’ll face some really good wrestlers.”
Getting to know Zach Kearney
Favorite athlete: Aaron Rodgers
Favorite team: Green Bay Packers
Prematch superstition: None
Most disliked athlete: Tom Brady
Favorite movie: Back to the Future
Favorite musical artist: The Beatles
Favorite actor: Robert De Niro
Favorite athletic memory: Winning state
Song on your iPod most people wouldn’t expect: Call Me Maybe
Hidden talent: Movie buff. I’m not sure if there’s anyone that watches and knows about as many movies as I do… Wrestling’s just so stressful sometimes. Movies help me relax.