|Ishmael to wrestle at Central (04-18-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 18 April 2013 09:35|
The North Baltimore High School senior - one of Ohio's best wrestlers in his weight class - is headed to Central Michigan University.
Ishmael signed his national letter of intent Wednesday night to attend Central, one of the top programs in the Mid-American Conference.
The 195-pounder will receive athletic and academic scholarships from the school.
He signed during a ceremony in front of friends and family at the high school.
"It's close to being like home," Ishmael said of the school and the Mount Pleasant, Mich. community.
Mount Pleasant has a population of about 26,000.
"It reminded me of North Baltimore perfectly because everyone seemed to know each other," said Ishmael, second in the state this season after a third-place finish in 2011.
"Their athletic facilities are like half a mile from the dorms which is awesome because I just walk there for practice. Everyone wants to hang out with each other in the wrestling program. It's just like one big family. The team is a really like a tight family."
Ishmael was 45-2 this season with 41 pins. He finished with a 177-16 career record, including a state-record 154 pins.
His bid for a Division III state championship ended with a 6-4 overtime loss to Tyler Beck of Galion Northmor.
Central finished second to Missouri in the MAC this season after winning nine straight conference titles. The Chippewas also had eight wrestlers qualify for the NCAA meet.
"They'll push me to reach my potential and become an All-American, and hopefully reach my goal of being a national champion," Ishmael said.
Ishmael will red-shirt next season, although he'll still practice with the team. The Chippewas usually red-shirt most of their freshmen, Ishmael said. He expects to wrestle at 197 for the Chippewas.
"That way you can practice and get used to college wrestling because it's nowhere close to being like high school," Ishmael said. "It gives you a chance to get some experience and you can get bigger and stronger physically."
The red-shirt season also will allow Ishmael to adjust to college life in general.
He has a 3.87 grade-point average and will major in chemistry. He plans on becoming a pharmacist.
"He has great drive and determination to succeed," NB coach Jesse Thomas said. "He uses that to push himself in wrestling and in the classroom.
"He's been a very hard worker and always wanted to be successful, and you can tell that by the way he approaches everything," Thomas added.
Before choosing Central, he also considered attending Kent State, Ohio University, Maryland, Lehigh and Duke.
Central first contacted Ishmael right after the state tournament in early March. He visited there a week later and then committed to the Chippewas shortly after that.
"When I visited there, I knew that was where I wanted to go," Ishmael said.
In addition to wrestling, Ishmael also was a standout running back on the football team, and plays center field and pitches on the baseball team.
"I have to become a little bit more aggressive instead of being laid back," Ishmael said. "I'm more of a technician because I know what I'm doing. I know how to take away what my opponent is doing or how to wrestle the match at my pace, not my opponent's pace.
"I use all of my smarts because I'm usually wrestling guys who are stronger than me. I use my technique because I know how to control a match."
|Last Updated on Saturday, 20 April 2013 18:05|
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