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Heelan vs Western Christian wrestling

Heelan's Shyler Langley pins Western Christian's Eli Van Ginkel at 170 pounds during wrestling action last season.

JIM LEE

SIOUX CITY | Shyler Langley comes from a wrestling family as the youngest of three brothers. He has worked to create his own path, but there is one thing that he certainly wants to join in on the family tradition – reaching state.

The Bishop Heelan senior recorded his 100th career win last week and improved his record to 14-1 on the season with a 5-0 performance as the Crusaders won the Shenandoah Duals on Saturday. It is a strong start to a season he hopes ends in Des Moines after coming up just short the previous two seasons.

“(The 100th win) meant a lot having my brothers get their 100th win and having me reach that goal it really felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders,” Langley said. “Now I can put all my focus and energy into making it to state.

“(Reaching the state podium) would mean the world to me and you know it really means a lot because going into my fourth season I have the chance to win three conference titles which would also mean a lot. Having that state medal around my neck would really cap off my whole wrestling career at Heelan.”

Langley seems to have found a comfort zone as the Journal’s Metro Athlete of the Week has moved from 170 pounds to 195 for his final season despite having to recover from abdominal surgery before the start of the season.

“It has been a huge change with the strength of the guys and the speed of the wrestling,” he said. “My first tournament in Columbus, Nebraska took a pretty big jump and I had to get used to it, had to work it out the first couple of matches, but I am feeling pretty confident there. I am feeling good and I feel like I can definitely make a run to the state tournament.”

Langley is looking to join older brothers, Jordan and Hunter, as state placers after Jordan, who just happens to be his co-head coach this season, took eighth as a junior for Sergeant Bluff-Luton in 2009 and Hunter was eighth in 2010 for the Warriors.

“It motivates me to keep up this name, keep up this reputation,” Langley said. “We spent a lot of hours working in our basement growing up getting better at things. I was definitely beaten up as a kid, but I think it helped mold me as a wrestler.”

The youngest son of Curt and Kristi Langley said he has melded the very physical style of Jordan with the more technical side that Hunter brought to the mat to create his own style. As he got older both brothers continued to work with him and help him improve.

Langley was excited when his brother was named a co-head coach of the Crusaders along with Matt Pugh – the fourth head coach in the senior's four seasons – even if it brought a new dynamic.

“I knew I was in for some tough practices and some fun practices,” he said. “Matt Pugh has been in the program for three years and he is a tremendous coach and has helped me along in my career. (Jordan) has really helped me get to my next level and he is pushing me to be my best.”

“We have had some bumps but he understands that through the week I am his coach but we can also still be brothers,” Jordan said.

Langley finished third at sectionals last year and third at districts as a sophomore to miss his chance at state, but this year already has a different feel.

“I think my speed (is a difference) because I am eating into this weight class which I have never done,” said the 18-year-old. “My speed is helping me tremendously, moving my angles and my brother is helping me a ton in the room. (Not cutting weight) allows me to focus on my technique and building strength instead of just maintaining strength which is huge.”

“We got on the mat two to three times a week (in the offseason) and pushed it hard for his goal of making the state tournament,” Jordan said. “He feels he has pretty big shoes to fill. But we talked about paving his own path and he is the first of the brothers to get Metro Athlete of the Week. It is the little things … that separate him from us and let him create his own stories.

“I definitely feel this year he is going to create a story that is memorable for me as a coach and him as an athlete.”

His close calls helped him refocus and it began with a strong football season for the Crusaders and has carried over.

There is a confidence about Langley this year that was not fully developed in previous seasons.

“I used to be a bracket hawk my brothers used to say always looking to see who I would wrestle next, but I really don’t do that anymore. I just go out there and wrestle,” Langley said.

SPECIAL MENTION

Wrestling

Nate Curry, SB-L ... The 113-pound sophomore went 3-0 at the Austin Robert Memorial to claim the title and improve to 16-4 on the season.

Basketball

Alyssa Johnson, Dakota Valley... Johnson scored eight of her 12 points in the final eight minutes to help the Panthers upset No. 1 Warner 59-54.

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