By Brad Morris
After winning one of his seven national championships, Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said a champion can never be satisfied.
It’s a mindset he shares with Teays Valley senior Camden McDanel.
McDanel turned in a dominating performance over the weekend in Las Vegas, outscoring his five opponents 52-2 en route to winning the U.S. Open U20 championship at 97 kilograms (214 pounds).
“I had a pretty good weekend, but it could have been 52-0,” McDanel said. “I made a dumb mistake trying to score more points in the semifinal match and he made me pay for it.”
McDanel entered the tournament as the fourth-seed in his weight class and won each of his first three matches by 11-0 technicals, setting up a semifinal match against top-seeded Sawyer Bartelt, a two-time national champion from Florida who has committed to wrestle for Iowa State.
The Nebraska signee advanced to the championship match with an 8-2 win.
“I was looking forward to that match, because Bartelt is a big Grecko guy and we have been at some of the same tournaments, but always in different brackets and we never had an opportunity to wrestle against each other until now,” McDanel said. “That was really the championship match in our weight class.
“Bartelt is real strong in the upper body, but he doesn’t face the competition down in Florida that I face, so he did a lot of hand fighting and got gassed during our match. I just did my thing by controlling the tempo of the match, pushing the pace, hitting my moves and scoring.”
McDanel then blanked Joey Braunagel, a sophomore at the University of Illinois, by another 11-0 technical in a championship match that lasted just 72 seconds.
Since winning the Division I state championship at 190 pounds in March, McDanel has been training the last six weeks with his dad, Josh, preparing for the U.S. Open.
“I was lifting with my dad four times a week and then we cut that down to three times in the last couple of weeks, along with getting some practices in,” McDanel said.
McDanel qualified for the Pan-American tournament in Chile during July by winning in Las Vegas. His next step will be to wrestle from June 2-4 in Geneva, Ohio for the World Team Trials, where McDanel will need to win the best-of-three series to make the U20 world team that will compete in the world championships in Warsaw, Poland from August 14-20.