GREENWOOD, SC – For most high school athletes entering their freshman year, the individual is attempting to just find their place within their respective team, with minimal expectations.
Gage Cervenka is an exception.
Cervenka, now entering his sophomore year on the Emerald Vikings’ wrestling team, captured the Heavyweight South Carolina Championship, as well as the National Championship during his freshman year in 2011.
“There is definitely going to be a target on my back going into this year,” Cervenka said. “I know that a lot of guys are going to be motivated to beat me, so that they can say they beat the defending state champion, or national champion. With me being ranked number one in the state this year, and ranked nationally, I know that I’ll have a target on my back to a lot of guys this year.”
According to Vikings’ head coach Andy Wright, Cervenka’s athleticism is what sets him apart from others in the Heavyweight weight class.
“With Gage (Cervenka), his athleticism and quickness is what sets him apart,” Wright said. “The thing with him is that he moves like a 170 pound kid. His quickness for his size, combined with his strength, is what sets him above a lot of heavyweights.”
While most would be shocked with such sudden success at the high school level, Cervenka is no stranger to a high level of performance on the wrestling mat, having already been an accomplished grappler at the middle school level.
“In middle school, I had won some state and national tournaments,” Cervenka said. “I have always been told that practice makes perfect and I’ve worked hard for everything I’ve done.”
As the Vikings are hoping to make their way back to the State Championship, Cervenka will be expected to once again produce in 2012, with expectations higher than ever for the sophomore star.
“We just need to work hard every day in practice,” Cervenka said. “If it means us getting a pin and six points for the team, we need to give it all we got on the mat.We just need to do all we can to make it back to state and get it done.”