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Chance Fry wrestles Kearney's Teontae Wilson at state

Lincoln East’s Chance Fry (top) wrestles Kearney’s Teontae Wilson in the Class A 145-pound match Feb. 17, 2017, during the NSAA championship final at CenturyLink Center.

Chance Fry will enter every wrestling match this season with a bull’s-eye on his back. The two-time defending state champion expects to get every opponent’s best shot.

Fry is accustomed to the limelight. Two seasons ago, he won the state Class A title at 132 pounds as a sophomore. Last season, 44 opponents tried to put a blemish on the defending state champion’s record at 145 pounds. None succeeded; all but 16 lost were pinned.

The two-time defending state champion is back for his senior season at Lincoln East, where no wrestler has ever won three state titles. The Spartans’ team leader takes a 130-12 high school career record into his senior season. The goal: to become the 115th wrestler in Nebraska to win three state titles.

Coach Jeff Rutledge attributes his team leader’s success to “phenomenal hip power and body awareness.”

Rutledge, co-head coach of the East High team along with former Spartans teammate Keenan McCurdy, applauds Fry’s ability to stay one step ahead of his opponent. “He knows how to move his body and be in the right position before his opponent has a chance to react. He competes with a fearless attitude that enables him to wrestle with the perfect combination of aggressiveness and technical strategy.”

Common threads

Fry and Rutledge share a lot in common. Each won his weight class at a state Class A meet that helped propel Lincoln East to a state team title. Last season, Fry and his Spartan teammates secured the school’s first state title since Rutledge and his teammates – including McCurdy, also a state champ - won Lincoln East’s first-ever team title in 2004.

Last year’s team at East was propelled by individual titles from Fry, Maxx Mayfield, and DaShawn Dixon. Enrolled at Lincoln Southeast during his first two years of high school, Fry finished fourth at the state meet as a freshman at 113 pounds, and won Class A’s 132-pound title as a sophomore.

The 2017-2018 Spartans qualified all 14 varsity wrestlers for the state meet. Getting at least one state-meet win from all but one of its 14 wrestlers - and with nine Spartans earning medals - Lincoln East clinched the team title before the final round had even started.

Parents instrumental

Fry credits his parents for creating an early foundation leading to success. Matthew Fry, whose wrestling career at Crete High School was cut short by injury, taught his son the fundamentals, and his mom, Michelle Fry, often provided the transportation during his formative years with the Cornhusker Wrestling Club and the Lincoln Squires. The Fry family’s early success also included trophies won by younger sister Patience, now 12, who continues to wrestle.

Chance Fry said he’s considering full-ride offers from two community colleges in Iowa and studying criminal justice. His long-range plans involve wrestling for a top-flight Division One school, possibly the University of Iowa or the University of Oklahoma.

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L Magazine editor

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