Pictured is LTHS grad Shaun’Qae McMurtry during ...
August 07, 2012
Lockport Township High School had two individual state champion wrestlers — Shaun'Qae McMurtry and Brad Johnson — in 2012.
And while the McMurtry won his at 160 pounds and Johnson at 195, the two faced off several times during practices.
"Yeah, Brad and I went at it in practice for fun and he'd usually win," McMurtry said of Johnson. "But I snuck a few in when I could catch him off guard. Brad is a smart wrestler, and it's hard to catch him."
McMurtry only had to try to catch him when the two were playing around in practice. Otherwise, they helped get each other to the state championship.
"I was on the varsity as a freshman," McMurtry said. "There were a lot of seniors that I looked up to as a freshman. But Brad, Tony Rossi and I were all on varsity then, and we bonded. We all kept working and talked to each other about getting better. We all pushed each other and made sure we worked hard in the room and got stuff done."
Things certainly paid off for McMurtry, who followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Shaquille McMurtry. Both brothers had success at Lockport. Shaquille, who graduated in 2011, finishing sixth at 215 in his senior season. But Shaun'Qae McMurtry was able to advance deeper into the state tournament. He finished fifth at 145 in 2010, second at 152 in 2011 and then first in 2012. This past season, he went 44-1, before capping his season with the state title at 160 in a 10-4 decision over Farai Sewera of Lake Park.
"It was so great to work all these years and have it pay off," McMurtry said. "It was my first state championship on any level. It was just tremendous to see the hard work pay off."
On the road to the title, McMurtry had the little things add up.
"My goal this past year wasn't to go undefeated but to get 200 takedowns," he said. I finished with 247 takedowns and lost once, but that helped me refocus. I set small goals and the small things helped me accomplish my big goal."
Lockport coach Josh Oster said he appreciated all that McMurtry did for the program.
"Shaun'Qae has been one of the most successful high school wrestlers Lockport has ever had," Oster said. "He is one of only three, four-time state qualifiers, one of three who placed in state three or more times and one of three two-time state finalists. Shaun'Qae also leaves high school with the third-most career wins."
McMurtry finished 148-39.
"It can be argued that the past four years have been the most successful in the history of Lockport Wrestling, and Shaun'Qae played a huge part in that," Josh Oster said. "Obviously, he has been very successful on the mat, but he also proved to be a great all-around athlete for Lockport, winning varsity letters in four different sports [football, track, volleyball and Wrestling]. Shaun'Qae surprised a lot of people this year outside the area moving into the top 10 of national rankings. His Wrestling intelligence is through the roof, and he learned very quickly once he decided he wanted to figure a position or a technique."
Now, McMurtry will take that intelligence and experience to the University of Nebraska to continue his Wrestling career.
"The atmosphere there is great," he said of Nebraska. "But, ultimately, it was the guys on the team and the coaches too. The coaches didn't rush anything. They take their time to work with you and the support is tremendous.
"Another big thing is the academics. They put a lot of focus on that and push you to do well. They were the first school to get 300 Academic All-Americans."
McMurtry, who was very active in sports at Lockport, said there is nothing like wresting.
"Playing football and volleyball was fun," he said. "It was a way to express yourself in different ways, and I got to enjoy it all. It was great to be able to win state [individually], but it was even better to go to state with the school team."
The Porters advanced to the state quarterfinals in the dual team meet in February for the first time in school history. There, they gave eventual Class 3A state champion Sandburg a run for it, before falling 33-24. But along the way, they defeated Plainfield Central 33-23 at Lockport's Central Campus in the sectional to advance to state. "Just Wrestling at Central and the whole setting under the lights there gave me the chills," McMurtry said. "It was all-or-nothing to get to state. Then, getting to state and being there with the team and knowing that you're leaving a mark there for the school to carry on.
"The highlight was just to connect with my teammates and coaches and get even closer. Then it was great to talk to the underclassmen and tell them to try to do their best and continue to push that tradition onward."
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