Kicking it off with the signing of a letter of intent to wrestle at South Dakota State University, Riley McSherry’s senior year is the fulfillment of a wrestling dream.
At just 5 years old, Riley McSherry watched the Cobbler wrestling team compete in the Naasz Gymnasium for the first time in his life. After studying the lone mat and its many wrestlers under the spotlight, Riley knew what he wanted to be. He aspired to be under that spotlight. Now, in his senior year, Riley has fulfilled his dream and swapped a seat in the dim stands for a place on the bright scarlet mat as a vital asset to Central’s wrestling squad. He is no longer the 5 year old boy watching matches from the stands, now he is an ambitious powerhouse ready to take the title.
Riley began wrestling at the age of 5, after he had brought home a wrestling poster; not even knowing what the sport was, he thought he’d try it out. A rough start created an on and off relationship with wrestling until he started back up in his middle school years, where he decided to keep going.“I realized I loved the sport during my 7th and 8th grade year of middle school,” Riley confesses.
Finally discovering his skill, Riley got pulled up to Central’s JV squad as an 8th grader. After proving his talent on that team, Riley earned a spot on varsity his freshman year. In the 113 weight class, he had a record of 31-21 and placed 8th at state. “I did start off pretty rough my freshman year,” Riley says, “but I started doing better at every tournament.”
Growing up, Riley excelled as a multi-sport athlete, playing baseball, soccer, football, track and basketball, along with wrestling. Through the years, he started weeding sports out and by his freshman year, he had it down to two: wrestling and baseball. Even as a feared hitter and electric outfielder for Post 22, he soon realized wrestling was his main sport.
“I definitely like wrestling way more than baseball,” he explains. “I love the competition and the atmosphere of the sport and that’s what inspires me to keep going.”
As a sophomore, Riley jumped to the 126 weight class and placed 6th at state with an identical 31-21 record. His junior year he progressed to the 138 weight class and improved his record to 39-8, placing 3rd at state. Now, before his final season begins, pre-season rankings have him at first in the 145 weight class.
During the off-season, Riley stays busy with lifting and wrestling practices. He participates in camps as well as wrestling tournaments in the spring and fall. During the regular season he keeps in the best shape he can, trying to stay away from carbs and focusing on protein. “Eating proteins while cutting weight maintains the muscle mass and gives me energy and I try and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables as well.” Riley maintains that, “Carbs put on a lot of weight and fat that isn’t very healthy.”
For his senior year Riley will only have to cut 5 pounds to be eligible to wrestle in the 145 weight class.
Being under the spotlight doesn’t faze Riley the slightest bit. “I love being under pressure like that, and it’s even better if I have good competition and everyone is watching.” Riley also says preparation before matches helps drown the pressure. “I just focus on getting warmed up and staying aggressive throughout the match. I really try not to over-think my opponent.”
Although he still has one season left in his high-school tenure, Riley is looking to his future at SDSU (a division 1 university) where Riley will further his wrestling career. “I am definitely excited, but I’m also nervous because there will be a lot of good competition. It’s a big commitment.”
Stepping up from highschool to the collegiate level will be a big challenge. How is Riley going to be ready to further his wrestling career at SDSU? “I am going to prepare myself the same way I always have,” says Riley, “by being physically, mentally and emotionally healthy as I can be. I am going to take it one day and one match at a time.”