Prep Wrestling

Valpo wrestler Buckley driven to excel

2010-12-14T22:00:00Z 2010-12-15T03:27:40Z Valpo wrestler Buckley driven to excelBy Jim Peters jim.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com
December 14, 2010 10:00 pm  • 

Many winning moments likely lie ahead in the promising young career of Valparaiso sophomore Max Buckley.

But it's a losing moment last season that, to this point, stands out in the mind of Vikings coach Jim Smith.

"It was our first or second dual meet at home," Smith said. "We lost the match, I came in to talk to the team and Max wasn't there. We went out looking for him and found him in the fieldhouse, going over move after move after move. I'll never forget it. That was a freshman doing that."

It's all in the character of a kid who took up wrestling at the age of 4. Not blessed with great physical attributes, Buckley squeezes every ounce of effort he can out from his 103 pounds.

"Obviously, I'm not big enough to be a football or basketball star, so I stuck to wrestling," Buckley said. "I'm real tough on myself when I make mistakes. That day, I made a mistake and I got pinned for it. I was pretty mad about it. I used to look at it like (working hard) kind of sucked. Now I've grown to like it, making myself better every day in practice."

Despite giving away close to 10 pounds in most matches last year, Buckley finished 19-16, qualifying for semistate, his target for the season. He grew several inches over the summer, which he spent training with Alex Tsirtsis at the Region Wrestling Academy.

"We're all born the same," Smith said. "Those who work harder go farther. Max understands the sport well, what it takes to excel. He listens to everything. He sets a great example in practice. He works smart, too. He's just a great kid to coach."

Now a fuller 103, Buckley is reaping the benefits of his sweat with a 12-0 start.

"I'm the same strength if not stronger than most guys now," Buckley said. "I'm able to get my tie-ups, set them up and score my takedowns."

It's resulted in a bushel of points and several technical falls for Buckley.

"He's trained hard to keep developing his technique," Smith said. "His positioning is much better. He was undersized last year, but he's building his strength."

Not to mention a resume'. He's ranked eighth in the state.

"I really just want to win, to get the respect of the people in the wrestling community," Buckley said. "My goals at the beginning of the season were to go to state, place at state and maybe eventually be a state champ. Those haven't really changed. I'm even hungrier now."

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