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Old 11-14-2010
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Rush & Morgan Experience Their First Turning Points

Clayton Rush and Mario Morgan are argubably the two best non DI wrestlers from Illinois in America entering this college season . Both are legit title contenders, Rush a returning champ and Morgan a returning finalist. It has been a long road to this point for them. The 2011 NCAA Championships will be their final season. This is their story of how it all began. In this next chapter each wrestler starts to have sucess and reach the first turning point in their careers.



What IS Club? By Gail Rush

When Clayton was 5, things changed drastically. Kids at tournaments were actually members of clubs. What were these clubs and how do you get one? Well, I’m not one to just sit there. If there is a question, I find the answer, and I did.

This thing called IKWF. A wrestling federation for kids. Really? How cool is that!

After some talking and “persuading” Aledo had a club, the Aledo Bear Country Wrestling Club. And yes, we are south of I80!! That may matter to some, but like I’ve said before, my son had other plans. We traveled. He didn’t lose much, unless we fed him to the wolves, which did happen on occasion.

Once, we were at Chillicothe and I was in the bracket room…I always was…I had to make sure he wasn’t in a “slide by “ bracket. We were going to move him up in age and weight but we were unfamiliar with one of the boys. His dad was there and we asked him about it and he said Clayton would be fine. He won all his matches…except one. It was THAT boy…from Indiana…who majored my son. Bubba was livid. We had found out seconds before his match started that this particular little boy was a Triple Crowner. We didn’t tell Bub before the match., didn’t want it to be a mental thing. He was mad afterwards. Storming off the mat, crying, really, really mad. I tried to tell him just how good this kid was but he didn’t care. Nobody was going to do that to him. We felt bad. The wolf had been fed by my, then, 7 or 8 year old son.

I can’t talk about IKWF without explaining something. I was his coach. There was a reason for this, as unreasonable as it may sound. It started when he started. We were the only ones who traveled to IKWF tournaments from our club. My husband would coach and I would tape. Tape matches. Or was it tape the ceiling, floor, bleachers, or just about everything BUT the match? Early on, we found it worked out much better if I stood by the mat and Rick taped. That is exactly how I came to be the “woman coach” . The rest is history, I guess. We did the best with what we had.

There was another HUGE turning point in Clayton’s young career. He was 8 when his cousin and workout partner, then 10, was fatally struck by lightening. Bub didn’t want to wrestle anymore. We weren’t sure what to do. Fortunately, we knew Bam Pustelnik from East Moline. We asked Bubba, “ if you could wrestle for anybody, who would it be. “ “Well… Bam. I want to wrestle for Bam, ” was his answer. So, after talking to Bam, we changed clubs and Clayton was now a Panther Pinner. It was a good move. It gave him a sense of “team” as a few more boys went to tournaments. They actually won the junior division at regionals with only 3 boys. It was awesome.

He remained a Panther Pinner until he was in 7th grade. IKWF had a rule that a club could only draw from one junior high. So he returned to Aledo Bear Country Wrestling. I won’t go into much of that as it was quite an unpleasant time for all of us in many ways. In a nutshell, we had some high school coaching changes and our junior high decided to go IESA. I remember Clayton being told that in IESA he would see more of the Class A kids he’d be seeing in high school. Clayton’s response…”I don’t want to beat the A kids. I want to beat them all.”

Needless to say, he stayed IKWF and went on to qualify for state 5 times, place 3rd in the Novice division and 2nd in the senior division two times. Again, I guess he had other plans.

The First Tournament by Mr. Twister

I remember the first tournament of Mario’s career like it was yesterday. He had been practicing a few weeks with the Twisters but this was different. It was 5:00 in the morning when we drove to 154th and Cooper in Harvey to meet the rest of his team to travel to the tournament. We were up early as if we were going to work at some factory. This was definitely going to be a different kind of sport. Oh did I say “we” were up early. Mario was asleep in the back of my car without a care in the world.

I had heard other parents talk about this weigh-in procedure thing but had only experienced them in youth football. This was a lot different. The kids were all lined up in the basement of some school in their boxers and socks. No women were let in the room. It was pretty quiet and the coaches from the host worked like clockwork. My kid could of left his coat and everything else on and made the 39-pound weight class. He looked around and stepped on the scale when directed. The old doctors scale never moved. My sons concern was could he go eat. It was past 7 a.m. and he was hungry. Not that he was cutting weight but Mario loves food and he knew Mama kept a cooler full of it. Once his arm was magic marked with the big 37.5 to indicate how big he was, he hustled up the stairs, and put on the legendary all red singlet with the white Twister on the left leg. He was ready for battle.

We would wait about an hour for his match to be called. Never leave a first day Dad to adjust this headgear thing. I was terrible at it but my wife kept reminding me that he could wrestle as long as he didn’t get “those ugly ears” that the big kids had.

There were 6 kids in his bracket and all looked bigger to me then 40 pounds. This match was going to be for the full 6 minutes. Mario ran to the center and shook hands. His head so much bigger than his body that I thought he would topple over.

His match had the lady ref, Jan Stephens who does all of the kid’s tournaments. Right away, my wife felt better about the wrestling because the official was a woman. If I remember right, he wrestled this real tall kid in an all black singlet from the Burbank Panthers. The whistle blew and a new career was born. There was more rolling around by Mario and very few if any moves. I am standing at the side of the mat trying to film but really just screaming at the ref. I remember thinking, “She is cheating my son. He should be winning.” To this day, I have no idea why I was thinking that because I had no idea how to score a wrestling match. I just knew that was my son and I wanted him to win. When it was all over, the Panther got his hand raised but unlike a lot of other kids, I saw that day, Mario did not cry. He went over to his coach, listened to why he didn’t win and went back to where the team was sitting.

Eventually Mario would figure out the moves and I would figure out the rules. Over the course of the first season in the IKWF Mario developed a healthy rivalry with several wrestlers that would go on to be high school starters. Every week the same wrestlers for the most part appeared at the scale, Tom Wolf, Matt Schemeski, Josh Thompson, Donte Butler, Eric McGill, Thomas Webster and Mike McCauliffe. The next few years the names would grow to include Adam Canty, Cartice Lloyd, Ron Uccardi, Antwoine Brown, Vince Hannon, Dane Lund and of course Jimmy Kennedy.

The first turning point in his wrestling career came against Matt Schmeski of the Oak Forest Warriors. Schemeski would go on to be a starter at 119 on two of those legendary Sandburg state championship teams and also was at Eastern Illinois when the program was cut. These two must of wrestled 15 times that first year. The season would culminate in the regional championship at St. Laurence High School. In the IKWF at that, time regional was as far as you could go unless you were Novice. Juniors were done after regional so the Twister coaches and myself promoted this as Mario’s championship.

To this day any time I look at that tape, I get goose bumps. As the finals approached, the mat side grew to five deep. Mario got to wear the white Twister championship singlet and Schemeski was in the Oak Forest green with the black trim. Mario had 4 losses that year and three of those were to his new rival. I remember meeting his, Dad and he told me he admired Mario’s style of wrestling (I didn’t know he had one at that time) and that he had plenty of film on Mario. I asked if I could borrow some of that film since he probably had more than me.

I knew it was a big match because Coach Quint was in the corner for this one. The match started with Schemeski dominating early action. The Warrior scored the first takedown. However, there was something different about Mario this day. Midway through the first period Mario hit a hip toss near the edge of the mat. Schemeski landed out of bounds and it was not scored but the tempo of the match changed. At the end of the first period, Mario shot a perfect single and on the way down added a blind half for near fall. After the action stopped, he hustled back to the middle and glared at Schemeski. The crowd got into the match from this point on. Another takedown in the second by Mario and a chancery to a Twister far side cradle in the third period sealed the win. Although the season was over and he had his championship the desire to come back had been planted. A wrestler was born that day at St. Laurence.



In those early days, Mario did not love wrestling. I am not even sure he loves it today. He did like getting his hand raised and to this day, that remains true. He continued to play baseball and his favorite football. Now there was a winter sport which to master. Being on the Twisters meant this was not some casual Daddy coached team but instead a hard working elite team with lots of tradition, serious coaches and a serious schedule. It also meant that in the middle of the Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls championship era my son would not be a basketball junkie. Instead, he was doing a sport that involved discipline, strength, character and one where he only depended on himself in the circle. If he didn’t love it, I sure did. This sport would make a man out of him. I could see it coming

NEXT; The IWF vs. IKWF Split and Going National
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Last edited by MR TWISTER; 12-09-2010 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 11-15-2010
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Jaguar Jaguar is offline
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I am enjoying these. Keep them coming!
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Old 11-24-2010
JRF165 JRF165 is offline
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With all due respect

Mr. Twister-

Appreciating that both Clayton and Mario have had stellar careers and have numerous accolades while representing their home state of IL through their t NCAA careers, I would argue that other non-Division I wrestlers from IL should also be mentioned when arguing the 'best non-D-I wrestlers' in IL history. I have viewed prior posts of yours that do, in fact, mention successful IL wrestlers in the NCAA/NWCA/JUCO, but fail to recognize their paths to success and behind the scenes accomplishments. As stated before, I do recognize that Rush and Morgan have accomplished a lot; however, I believe wrestlers like the ones I will list do deserve the same amount of attention if the goal of this forum/website is to eliminate any biases towards specific wrestlers. I am sure they would be more then happy if you pursued an 'at-length' story about their careers on the mat as well.

*Gabe Youel [North Central]
3x All American
155 career NCAA wins
4x Wheaton Invite Champion (arguably the toughest D-III invite)
38 career pins

*Ben Youel [North Central]
2X All-American
4X Academic All-American
(emphasizing the STUDENT aspect of student-athlete)
139 career NCAA wins

*Jake Oster [Elmhurst]
4x All American (1x Champion)
2X Academic All American
97 career NCAA wins

*Aaron Winning [McKendree]
2x NAIA National Champ

Illinois wrestlers have long been well represented in the Great Lakes Regional, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) and the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC), all of which are highly competitive conferences/regional qualifiers for D-III. Clearly, there are many more wrestlers I have not listed, and maybe others can add to the list. My reply to this story is not to take anything away from Rush/Morgan, but to insist that these types of stories should be composed about every highly successful 'Non-D-I wrestler' in an effort to recognize their lifetime commitment, discipline, and charisma toward the the sport and not JUST Rush/Morgan.
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Old 11-24-2010
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PapaBearSLIM PapaBearSLIM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRF165 View Post
Mr. Twister-

Appreciating that both Clayton and Mario have had stellar careers and have numerous accolades while representing their home state of IL through their t NCAA careers, I would argue that other non-Division I wrestlers from IL should also be mentioned when arguing the 'best non-D-I wrestlers' in IL history. I have viewed prior posts of yours that do, in fact, mention successful IL wrestlers in the NCAA/NWCA/JUCO, but fail to recognize their paths to success and behind the scenes accomplishments. As stated before, I do recognize that Rush and Morgan have accomplished a lot; however, I believe wrestlers like the ones I will list do deserve the same amount of attention if the goal of this forum/website is to eliminate any biases towards specific wrestlers. I am sure they would be more then happy if you pursued an 'at-length' story about their careers on the mat as well.

*Gabe Youel [North Central]
3x All American
155 career NCAA wins
4x Wheaton Invite Champion (arguably the toughest D-III invite)
38 career pins

*Ben Youel [North Central]
2X All-American
4X Academic All-American
(emphasizing the STUDENT aspect of student-athlete)
139 career NCAA wins

*Jake Oster [Elmhurst]
4x All American (1x Champion)
2X Academic All American
97 career NCAA wins

*Aaron Winning [McKendree]
2x NAIA National Champ

Illinois wrestlers have long been well represented in the Great Lakes Regional, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) and the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC), all of which are highly competitive conferences/regional qualifiers for D-III. Clearly, there are many more wrestlers I have not listed, and maybe others can add to the list. My reply to this story is not to take anything away from Rush/Morgan, but to insist that these types of stories should be composed about every highly successful 'Non-D-I wrestler' in an effort to recognize their lifetime commitment, discipline, and charisma toward the the sport and not JUST Rush/Morgan.
I'm sure Twist/Admin don't mind if you or the parents of any of the wrestlers mentioned started similar threads chronicling the accomplishments and experiences of those wrestlers. When should we expect your 1st entry and which wrestler's journey will you be writing about?

Only a parent, sibling, teammate, close friend, or coach would be able to write in depth, personal, behind the scenes pieces like this about a wrestler and have it come off as being genuine. If Twist started dropping stories like this about kids that didn't live with him... that's just creepy.

BTW, Twist never said 'best non-D-I wrestlers' in IL history. The way it is written I took it to mean currently in school. Gail and Andre also drop the names of other kids/wrestling peeps they encountered during the journeys, which is cool too. (kind of the Forest Gump POV thing going on)

I've actually enjoyed reading the series and its an excuse for me to take a drink (or two, or three...) during the week. Twist, thanks for the courtesy of not updating the series during the late morning or early afternoon... that could be a problem.
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Last edited by PapaBearSLIM; 11-24-2010 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 11-24-2010
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We are just chronicling Clayton and Mario's careers from the begining to the end....sort of like a diary. Nothing more or less. No hidden agrenda. Just an idea to provide behind the scenes looks into the lives of two wrestlers.

These two are two of the more famous wrestlers at the collegiate level and they have had a lot of success in non DI situations. There are many great non DI wrestlers, and these were the two that we had access to to do on a consistant season long term basis. Last year Rush was the NATIONAL CHAMPION & OUTSTANDING WRESTLER of the NCAA DIII tournament and last year Morgan was a NCAA FINALIST with 40 wins (29 in a row) for the back to back and 6x DII National CHAMPIONS. It was never posted or said that Rush or Morgan were THE BEST non DI wrestlers in Illinois HISTORY so I am not quiet sure how you got that. What was said is they are ARGUBALY the two best RETURNING non DI wrestlers for THIS season. If there are two better coming back that have as detail and decorated career please let me know who they are? We will get something going on them.

This is the first time we have done a series of stories on wrestlers path to success so is it really fair to critisize us for not doing more when we have NEVER done it before? Let's see how this goes and if we will do it again. It has to be the right wrestlers, the right writer and the right time. Everyone has a story but trust me we can't tell everyone's story. Especially for FREE, like this website provides.

I am well aware of the wrestlers you listed BTW. We do many features on wrestler all of the time. Did you not see my video interviews from the floor of the National Duals with all sorts of non DI wrestlers last season?

With that said we will look into doing more on non DI wrestlers. But with this new program coming for covering high school duals all over the state I may not be able to do it personally. I only have so much free time with family, a son wrestling and graduating college, work and school for myself (completiting a Master's this spring) plus I officiate two sports at the college level. In fact I wrote part five of The Journal at 1 a.m. so my time is very limited but I do the best I can.
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Last edited by MR TWISTER; 11-24-2010 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 11-24-2010
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Let's just say I was asked to do this. I said yes. My only reservation, aside from occasionally crying, was something like this happening. I was afraid it would be taken wrong, nobody would like it, or somebody would think it's unfair. I would be more than happy to stop if general consensus warrants it. It really makes no difference to me.
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Old 11-24-2010
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Originally Posted by agdfan View Post
Let's just say I was asked to do this. I said yes. My only reservation, aside from occasionally crying, was something like this happening. I was afraid it would be taken wrong, nobody would like it, or somebody would think it's unfair. I would be more than happy to stop if general consensus warrants it. It really makes no difference to me.
Keep doing what you're doing.
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Old 11-24-2010
BonesJones BonesJones is offline
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I'd be more upset if you stopped agdfan!

Go Bub!
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Old 11-24-2010
eastridgeraider eastridgeraider is offline
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i agree, it is very insightful for those of us with young wrestlers. i have enjoyed the pieces so far, keep it coming please
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Old 11-24-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agdfan View Post
Let's just say I was asked to do this. I said yes. My only reservation, aside from occasionally crying, was something like this happening. I was afraid it would be taken wrong, nobody would like it, or somebody would think it's unfair. I would be more than happy to stop if general consensus warrants it. It really makes no difference to me.
I would stop writing if a majority felt they were negative or even self serving. It only takes one button to delete. It was our intention to "share" very private moments of our wrestling children growth and developement to the point that made them All Americans and National Champions. It should be known that both of our sons are basically shy when it comes to publicity or credit about tbeir wrestling. Both never want to offend any opponent or fan. They see all chapters and approve or correct anything that is posted. You the fan let us know if we should continue to share. Meanwhile chapter six later tonight.
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Last edited by MR TWISTER; 11-25-2010 at 01:26 AM.
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