A funny thing happens when you ask Will Schany if he’s feeling any pressure.
The Blair junior fesses up to it.
“I don’t know why, but I’ve all of a sudden started getting really nervous before matches,” he said after taking home most outstanding wrestler honors at last weekend’s Boys Town Invitational.
The butterflies might have something to do with two factors. One, the bull’s-eye on Schany’s back from being a two-time state champion. Two, his name appearing last month on a national top 20 list at 182 pounds.
In other words, he is no longer flying under the national radar.
Schany said his feelings are similar to those he remembers before his first match at state as a freshman. Back then, Schany said, he could feel the color leave his body.
“The coaches were asking me if everything was all right,” he said with a laugh. “My face was so pale.”
Good thing it took him only 12 seconds to get a pin in that first-round match. Later that day, he earned a technical fall in the quarterfinals. A night later, it was a hard-fought semifinal win over Central City’s Jacob Brown.
That was the first time Schany said he realized that he had a chance to win a state title.
“I didn’t think I was as good as I turned out to be,” he said. “Once I won that match, I started to believe in it a little more.”
The next day, he avenged a loss to Nebraska City’s Blake Kennell in the title match for the first state championship in the 43 years of wrestling in Blair.
“Not only that,” Bears coach Erich Warner said, “but it created some excitement in the community around the program. I would hear it all the time: ‘When are you going to get a champion?’ Will’s win kind of steamrolls and gets kids to realize what you can do if you work hard.”
Schany stepped up four weight classes and repeated the feat last season. Now as a junior, he is 8-0 as his Blair team heads to the Flatwater Fracas in Grand Island this weekend.
He’s a long way from the kid who started his high school career 0-2.
“I was like, ‘What is this?’” Schany said of his rough beginning. “Since then, I’ve kind of found stuff that works for me.”
Schany’s attacking style isn’t typically seen in the upper weights. He’s up-tempo and physical, and tends to wear down opponents as the match progresses.
“For a bigger guy, he wrestles like a smaller guy,” Warner said. “He’s always coming at you. It’s tough to stop.”
Even with all of that success on the mat, it took that national recognition to make Schany think hard about anything other than playing football in college. His older brother, Jake, is a freshman linebacker at Ohio University.
Seeing his name mentioned with some of the top 182-pounders in the country on the intermat.com top 20 has given Will a reason to consider wrestling at the next level. Only two juniors are ranked ahead of him.
“I do think about it more now,” he said. “In the past I was kind of iffy about it. I did think about football more. I think it’s equaled out quite a bit now.”
Schany, who rarely participates in the big summer circuit events, was part of a Nebraska team at the Rocky Mountain Duals in March. He squared off twice with Matt Reed out of Kansas, who is now in the lineup as a true freshman at perennial power Oklahoma.
Reed won the first match in overtime and the second by a narrow margin, giving some legitimacy to Schany on a national scale.
“I think that’s kind of what did it,” Schany said.
Although the ranking added some pressure, it hasn’t changed his daily outlook.
“I obviously think it’s nice,” Schany said. “But rankings are just rankings. Every week you see guys that can beat you.”
Contact the writer:
402-850-0781, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/nickrubek