Wakonia, Minnesota. Raw talent is raw at any age. Max McNeely moved from kindergarten to free for all to wrestle for the U.S. Under-17 team. This summer he went to Rome and came back with a bronze medal.
"It's an amazing experience that not everyone has and I'm grateful for that. But it's not the end. I hope to form more world-class teams after this. It's the goal," McNally said.
McNally is an American high school wrestler weighing 195 pounds. But he came back with the winningest race in Waconia history.
"I'm excited to play my senior year. Not many people knew if I was going to play because people didn't think I wanted to get hurt for wrestling. But I've been playing for them ever since. I was a freshman in high school, so I felt like I would let a lot of people down if I didn't go out and help my team win a few football games," McNeely said.
I did it. The Wildcats went 7-3 behind McNeely's 31 rushing touchdowns, which ranked in the top ten in the state in points and yards.
"Football has been my greatest joy and I'm sad to see it go. But I know wrestling will take me to new places," McNally said.
McNeely had a new sensation at the end of December: he had lost a streak of 132 consecutive games in high school.
"Since that game, I've been thinking about it every day and thinking about how I felt after that game and how I didn't want to feel that way," McNally said.
McNally got his revenge and remains a strong candidate to join Minnesota's elite roster of wrestlers to win four state titles.
"I've been writing this in my grades since I was a sophomore in high school, so having this opportunity this year is really special," McNally said.
College wrestling is McNeeley's future for Gophers and other international competitions, a future he is preparing for even during a pandemic when facilities are closed.
"I'm a tough fighter," McNally said. "I'm tough and a lot of these guys can't keep up with me."
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