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Kanagy named 2015 Wrestler of the Year

Ethan Kanagy carries himself with a quiet confidence. However, he reached a crossroads at the Holy Angels Tournament at Charlotte Catholic in January after losing two matches in a row which came as a shock.

The 220-pound Weddington senior wrestler couldn’t handle coming up short. Instead of bowing to the pressure, Kanagy responded by beating his inner demons, bound and determined to win his next match. He proceeded to defeat South Caldwell’s Preston Huffman to take fifth place at the event, which set the tone for the rest of his season.

“That was probably the first time I’ve ever faced any real competition – somebody on my level or as good as me,” Kanagy said.

Weddington coach Shane Rimmer said was the turning point for Kanagy’s season.

“He had every reason to pack it in, take sixth place and go home,” Rimmer said. “You could tell he made a decision in that match and he was a different wrestler ever since.”

Kanagy carried his momentum from the Holy Angels Tournament all the way to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3A state championship, where he beat North Gaston’s Lathan Bumgardner in a 5-3 decision and finished with an impressive 61-3 record.

Rimmer, who has coached Kanagy for two years, said it was a highlight to see his hand raised at the end of the final match.

“He peaked at the right time,” Rimmer said. “That bracket was very tight and competitive.”
After recording one of the best records in Weddington school history, Kanagy is now the 2015 Union County Weekly Wrestler of the Year.

Rimmer added Kanagy works hard, leads his teammates, has a coachable mentality, good adaptability and can wrestle outside his comfort zone.

All of those traits fall in line with Kanagy’s will to win and competitive fire.

Kanagy said he wants to be the best in everything he does, and has always been a competitor. Sports are a big part of his family, which is where he honed his competitive desire to win, he said.

Naturally, Kanagy loves a good challenge and refuses to back down, even when the odds are against him.

The wrestling star said his favorite moment of the season didn’t come when he won the final round of the state meet, but in the quarterfinal match versus Ashbrook’s Corey Armstrong, who he beat on a fall at the 4:19 mark of the match.

“States was definitely a huge highlight, but I came into this match hearing how good this kid was and I pinned him,” Kanagy said. “At that point I knew I was going to win the whole tournament.”

His impressive run is the exclamation point to an exceptional improvement from his junior year. Kanagy, who wrestled in the 195-pound weight class last season, advanced to the NCHSAA state meet, where he lost both of his matches and failed to place on his way to a 37-12 record.

He used that experience as a springboard to his senior season, which ended in sweet success. Kanagy, who also played football for Weddington, plans to wrestle in college, but does not know where yet.

Wherever he chooses, he’ll certainly have an impact.

This story was reposted courtesy of Ben Doster at Union County Weekly.

Written by: Ben Doster, Union County Weekly
Posted: Mar 19, 2015 by Anna Waldrup

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