Prep wrestling: Wortham, CJ teammates eye another GCL Co-Ed title

For many kids, their introduction to youth wrestling can be complicated and confusing. Such was the case for now Chaminade Julienne junior Isaiah Wortham.

There were no rings, no ropes and especially no top rope to leap off.

“So what happened was,” Wortham said, telling the story of how he got started as an 8-year old, “I told my dad I wanted to do WWE. He ended up taking me to a (youth) wrestling practice and it was completely different.”

»RELATED: Tuesday’s high school scoreboard

»RELATED: Tuesday’s high school roundup

Wortham might have been a little disappointed, but he was still determined to wrestle. He’s since delivered some smackdowns as one of the state’s top wrestlers.

Wortham enters the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed tournament No. 3 at 132 pounds in the Division II state rankings.

He's one of four Eagles in the rankings along with junior Nick Machuca (No. 20 at 152), sophomore David Frederick (No. 14 at 170) and senior Hunter Johns (No. 7 at 182). Wortham finished eighth at 126 pounds at last year's D-II state championships. Johns finished fourth at 182 and Frederick qualified at 152.

That impressive lineup helps bolster the Eagles’ skills as they go against state-caliber wrestlers every day in practice.

“I think having a good drill partner is everything for success and I’ve got a whole room full of them,” Johns said of the Eagles’ wrestling room. “Whoever I need to scrap with I can grab them and get a really good workout.”

CJ won the GCL Co-Ed title last season over runner-up Carroll. The Eagles are loaded for another run Saturday at Fenwick High School.

“Winning. It’s always the goal,” Wortham said.

And it starts Saturday.

The sectional tournaments follow Feb. 22-23 with district meets March 1-2. The state championships are March 7-9 in Columbus.

“(Placing at state has) driven me a whole lot,” Wortham said. “Last year there was a lot of people there scouting wise. I got some interest. This year I hope to gain more.”

Johns said the Eagles’ success this season has come from, in part, coach Joel Sanchez’s lifting and conditioning program. Most recently, Chaminade Julienne gave Hamilton Ross a run in the D-II regional dual team tournament before falling in the semifinals 43-28. Ross won the regional to qualify for state.

Sophomore Chris Rau (120), freshman Roman Jones (126), Wortham, Machuca, Frederick and Johns all picked up wins against Ross.

They look for more of the same Saturday at the GCL championships.

“By the end of the year you can see all the hard work paying off. That’s the biggest reward for me,” Johns said.

As for Wortham, what keeps bringing him back to wrestle?

“You can break people mentally and and physically,” Wortham said. “I like the fact I can keep scoring and no one can tell me what to do. It’s just me out there.”

Even if it’s not off the top rope.

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