Grappling with new outlook

Garfield’s Kissell takes talents to Campbell University

Tribune Chronicle file / Joe Simon Garfield’s Logan Kissell, right, controls Andrew McFee of West Muskingum at the Division III state tournament in Columbus.

Garfield senior wrestler Logan Kissell approaches every day of training with an interesting perspective, one that always keeps the four-time state placer focused.

“I just go into it every day, just knowing that I might not get an opportunity to come back next time,” Kissell said, “so I’ve just got to take advantage of everything.”

Not taking anything for granted is part of the reason Kissell has another opportunity after high school. The most decorated wrestler in Garfield history earned a scholarship to wrestle at Campbell University, a Division I school in Buies Creek, North Carolina (just south of Raleigh) that is coached by a former Olympian.

The only four-time state placer in Garfield history, Kissell is coming off a third-place finish at the Individual State Wrestling Tournament at 145 pounds in Division III. It was the second straight year he took third after earning sixth place as a sophomore and seventh as a freshman. During this year’s event, which concluded March 11, he received an unexpected phone call.

“(Campbell coach Cary Kolat) even called me during states to wish me good luck,” said Kissell about the former two-time national champion and international athlete. “It’s incredible just to talk to somebody who’s that good, has done that many things. To be coached by him and then being able to hear their knowledge, it’s going to be sweet.”

The fun-loving Kissell brings continued energy and positivity to the sport.

The exuberance is part of what fuels his year-round training regiment, one that’s going to pick up even more now that his focus has changed to college — where a different scoring system brings new challenges. The biggest modification, Kissell said, is the task of holding wrestlers down when in the top position. Doing so for more than one minute results in an extra point at the collegiate level.

“I’ve seen a lot of people who are dominant — who are able to ride their opponent out every time they take them down,” Kissell said. “I’ve got to figure out what works for me to be able to get that extra riding-time point.”

Kissell admits that top is probably the third best position for him after neutral and bottom, but it’s also an area he improved upon significantly from his junior season. He said he’ll continue to work at a wrestling club known as the Titans, a wrestling group in the Mantua/Aurora area where Kissell has worked out at since he was in seventh grade, as part of his training. He’ll also turn things up a notch off the mat.

“You’ve got to work a lot harder,” said Kissell of preparing for college wrestling. “You go from high school, and now you’ve got to train twice a day — always lifting every day, always make sure you go for a run.”

He hopes his dedication is enough to ready him for Campbell, a school that can compete with some of nation’s toughest wrestling programs.

Kolat, who won gold medals at the World Cup and Pan American Games, played a big role in Kissell’s decision. He was weighing offers from Cleveland State and Appalachian State, but chose to join the Camels in part because of Kolat.

“He played a huge role,” Kissell said. “He’s one of the best wrestlers ever to live.”

Kissell also will be close to his sister, who he said lives just 20 minutes from the campus. While he’s going to miss his hometown of Garrettsville, Kissell also is looking forward to a new opportunity.

“It’s definitely going to be a change,” he said. “(Garrettsville is a) small community, everyone always knows each other and we’re all real close. … But going to (Campbell) is awesome. I’ve always been around the Cleveland area, so now I get to go somewhere that’s eight hours away — it’s a whole new environment, all new people.”

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