Athlete of Week: Winzenried has right stuff as freshman

cfwrestle-winzenriedJohn Winzenried doesn’t attend Carolina Forest, but he was hit just as hard by the controversial firing of the school’s wrestling coach at the start of the season.

The freshman at Early College on the Coastal Carolina University campus wrestles for the Panthers, and like his teammates is dealing with their third head coach in less than one calendar year. Despite the tough start, Winzenried is making the most of it.

“It’s been crazy because you have one coach saying to do it this way and another coach saying to do it another way,” said Winzenried, who was named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week. “It was difficult, but I think we’ve all kind of pulled together.”

Fortunately for Winzenried, wrestling is a team and an individual sport. While the Panthers struggled in the wake of teammates who chose to transfer to other schools, the 132-pounder has already made quite an impression around the state as a freshman, and with his team as a co-captain and leader by example.

Winzenried started the season with a perfect 11-0 record, winning titles at Hartsville, North Myrtle Beach and Rock Hill. It was the latter tournament where he suffered his first loss of the season, but he bounced back to avenge the loss in the tourney final.

“Some guys walk off the mat after a loss like it’s nothing, but when I lose it just drives me to get better,” Winzenried said. “After that first loss I beat the same guy in four overtimes. It was over 12 minutes of wrestling but I was not going to lose.”

In only his third season of wrestling, Winzenried has already made rapid improvement to reach the top levels of the sport. As the postseason approaches, he is realistic about his chances to win a state title as a freshman, he’s already clearing off some space in his trophy case for the future.

“I’m not sure about this season, but over the next three years I definitely hope to win a state championship,” Winzenried said. “I’m not going to not going to take a day off from training. I’m going to put my all into it for the next three years.”

Photo by Rancier Photography

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