Mission accomplished: McDanel wins state championship

by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com

COLUMBUS — It’s been a long road with more miles traveled than anyone probably ever kept track of, and Camden McDanel finally reached his destination. 

The Teays Valley senior completed his high school wrestling career on Sunday night with a 3-2 decision to win the Division I state championship at 190 pounds.

“You can do anything, anywhere you’re at, as long as you have the right people around you and the right mentality,” McDanel said. “The coaches here, I couldn’t have done it without them.”

It was the third attempt at a title, both previous times coming up short to a pair of outstanding wrestlers. 

“I should’ve done it two years ago,” he said. “I lost by a point my first year, I lost by three points last year and I had beat the guy the week before. It was two great studs, one of them is a two-time NCAA qualifier and the other is red-shirting at Ohio State — this one was mine. I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me.”

Teays Valley’s Camden McDanel stands on his third state podium – this time as the 190-pound state champion.

The person trying to stop him was Oak Hills’ Wyatt Ferguson. The senior had only one loss to go with 45 wins coming into the match with McDanel. 

It didn’t matter to McDanel if he won by a tech fall or got him by one point, he was determined the title wasn’t getting past him this time. 

“He hadn’t taken a shot the whole time and I kept firing off. I just knew I was going to get one,” McDanel said. “I knew he was getting tired, and he hadn’t taken any shots yet, so I knew he wasn’t going to score so I just waited for my opportunity.”

McDanel becomes only the second individual winner of wrestling championship for Teays Valley. Mike Wilson did it in 1975 at 175 pounds. 

“We’re just super proud of him, super excited for his future,” Teays Valley coach Todd Nace said. “He has a great family, Teays Valley supported him all through the years and we’re just so happy for him.

“Now the little kids in our program know who he is, they’re going to see his name up on the wall and his bracket up on the wall and they’re going to know that we, as Teays Valley, can do this,” Nace said about McDanel’s legacy. “We’ve got kids who are really, really close right now. If they feed off that, then we’ll have one or two or three or four.”

It’s been a team effort in prepping McDanel for this accomplishment from club coaches, fellow wrestlers, family and the people at Teays Valley.

“I’ve been here 30 years and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kid we have here,” Nace said. “No one understands the amount of time and effort this kid has put in.”

Another member of the team is assistant coach Ryan Ford who was a Division I wrestler in college and has had the task of working on the mats with McDanel on a regular basis the last three years.

“Coach Ford has been getting hurt all the time, he’s always injured, but he still wrestles with me two, three times a week,” McDanel said. “I wouldn’t be on the same level and have the same pace without him. Nace and my dad have created opportunities for me at different clubs and different tournaments — they’ve all done a lot for me to get to this point.”

“I know that I’ll probably never have the opportunity to wrestle someone like him every single day in the room. Normally, as a coach, you probably aren’t getting pushed by a high school athlete,” Ford said. “It’s been very special and I’m very privileged to be able to coach him so early in my career.

“The last two or three years it’s definitely transitioned from beating up on him whenever I wanted to … by the last couple weeks, months of the season, I was doing the blocking and holding him off as much as I could.”

His dad, Josh, is also an assistant for the Vikings and has been the guy putting many of those road miles on the family vehicles getting Camden where he needed to be to get to achieve this accomplishment.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people in the last week and tried to explain – he’s a good athlete but he’s not a phenomenal athlete. What is special about him, he bought in to what we tried to teach him,” Josh said. “We told him if you made your mind up and made the sacrifices and choose to do this, you can accomplish anything that you want to. 

“It’s a big moment for him to see that come to fruition.”

And he hopes that example isn’t lost on those coming behind him.

“He transferred as a freshman. He came back home after COVID, he needed to come home,” Josh said. “Todd opened his arms to us. We talked that he needs something different, and Todd said we’ll do whatever we’ve got to do. 

“My biggest thing is I want people to see that you can do that at Teays Valley, you can do that at Circleville, just like TJ (Fulgham) is getting the opportunity to do. If you make your mind up and you work hard enough, you can make it happen. I want our athletes to hear that, I want other student-athletes to hear that, I want parents to hear that — if you just love your kid, lead your kid and get them to buy into hard work, anything can happen.”

McDanel – heading to Nebraska for his collegiate wrestling – finishes his high school career with a 148-25 record. 

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