From blast doubles to bear hugs, Medina wrestler Blake Chrisman has seen it all.
Once a gangly 120-pound freshman, the junior has hit an amazing growth spurt over the last two seasons and now comes in at a fit 195.
The struggle is often real when many wrestlers bump up one weight class, so when Chrisman skipped three as a sophomore and four more last season, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see him take some lumps.
Instead, he comes into a non-conference dual tonight against Cloverleaf with a 33-6 record and fresh off a runner-up finish at the Josh Hephner Memorial Tournament.
“I think in a way it helped me,” Chrisman said. “I was kind of slower for 145, but now at 195 I feel like I’m a lot faster than everyone. It kind of helps out. The first tournament my body hurt a lot and I was like, ‘All right, I have to find angles rather than shoot underneath.’ I changed angles.”
Therein lies one of his biggest advantages.
As a freshman, it took awhile for Chrisman to get used to the speed at 120, but he still was able to squeak out a 10-7 mark.
Last season, he finished 19-15 and was third at the Kilted Classic, eventually getting up to 160 by the end of the season.
Those two seasons showed him the speed and agility it takes to be successful. After adding 50 pounds and three inches — he’s 6-foot-1 — Chrisman came into his junior year a more polished wrestler.
“He grew through weight classes throughout the seasons,” Medina coach Chad Gilmore said. “The way he grew, he hit lower body first instead of upper body. I think it was able to give him a good center of gravity. This is where he was meant to be, whereas before when he was staying small, his body was trying to get bigger and it worked against him. Now, he’s comfortable and it’s translating on the mat.
“It’s always awesome when a bigger guy learned to wrestle as a lightweight. You look at Tommy Rowlands from Ohio State. His freshman year he was 125 and then won two national titles as a heavyweight. He learned to wrestle as a lightweight and kept that style when he got bigger. Blake’s doing that. He’s keeping his style and mixing in big-guy moves. He knows how to manage a match well and it’s working well right now.”
The proof came early when Chrisman won the first individual tournament the Bees entered, taking the Kilted Classic.
A fifth-place finish at the Medina Invitational added to the freight train of momentum he has now.
“That really showed me I could compete at this weight class,” Chrisman said. “They aren’t as big as I thought they would be. I’ve gotten bigger, too. It’s not like I’m wrestling kids 50 pounds heavier than me. I’m the same weight, too. I realized that I wasn’t going to be outmuscled as much as I thought I would be. I’m shooting side shots more than going under. I’m going up top with hand fighting.”
While he still scraps with some of the middle weights, Chrisman’s main drill partner is heavyweight Bobby Johnson. He gives up every bit of 80 pounds when they drill, but that too has made him a better wrestler.
“That definitely helps in getting used to the weight and getting me stronger,” Chrisman said. “He likes to push it and make sure I’m feeling the weight. He doesn’t take it easy on me, so I’m having to find different ways to get around that obstacle, so it makes it easier when I get down to my weight.”
It also has given him the confidence to not only dream big things but do big things.
“I didn’t make it out of sectionals last year, but I feel like I can place at state this year,” Chrisman said. “I feel like I’m definitely going to go and place. Next year, I feel like I can win it.”