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Future Wolverine Taylor Massa still has sights on perfect prep career with Super 32 title
By Rob Sherrill
It’s 187-0 … and counting.
With a Super 32 title at 170 pounds in his pocket, Taylor Massa now sets his sights on a fourth Michigan state title and what could be an unbeaten career.
Massa’s closest match at the Super 32 was a 12-5 quarterfinal decision over Chip Ness, an NHSCA Freshman Nationals champion from of Buford (Ga.) High. His other five victories included four pins and a 16-6 major decision over Elliot Riddick of Bethlehem (Pa.) Catholic High in the final.
Massa also has helped lead St. Johns High to the upper echelon of WIN’s Top 25 team rankings. After finishing in the No. 25 spot last year, the Redwings start this season a full 21 points above that, at No. 4 … behind Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward High, Blairstown Township (N.J.) Blair Academy and Brandon (Fla.) High.
The biggest match in St. Johns’ history will take place Jan. 28, when the Redwings and No. 11 Novi Detroit Catholic Central High, Michigan’s Division 1 powerhouse, head south and east to St. Edward for a quadrangular meet that also includes Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High.
Fargo veterans will remember Massa as the kid who won everything there was to win in the Cadet Division: a pair of double titles, two Outstanding Wrestler awards and Cadet Triple Crowns in 2008 and 2009.
After a fourth-place finish in the Junior Nationals in Greco-Roman in 2010, Massa moved up a level this year. He won the FILA Junior Nationals in freestyle at 163 pounds in April — the only high school wrestler among the eight All-Americans at the weight — and was a member of the U.S. FILA Junior World Team that competed in Romania in July, finishing eighth. Unfortunately, Massa’s tournament lasted just one match, a 5-1, 4-1 loss to Ibrahim Yusubov of Azerbaijan, who wound up sharing the bronze medal in the event.
The kid whose earliest memory of wrestling was swinging on ropes at his father’s club practices at the age of 6 made his college commitment in early October amidst the backdrop of his state’s biggest family feud: the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry. In the gym at St. Johns, located 15 miles north of Lansing, Massa announced his decision to sign a national letter of intent with the Wolverines … over the Spartans.
But once that letter is signed, it’s back to the present: a fourth individual state title, a third straight Division 2 team state title, and… who knows?
Recently, WIN caught up with Massa.
WIN: You won the Super 32 this past weekend in pretty dominating fashion. So you’re obviously motivated to make your senior year a big one.
Massa: Yeah, it’s a great way to start off my senior year and hopefully finish strong.
WIN: Assuming you stay healthy, you’ll finish with one of the greatest careers in Michigan high school history. Do you have any idea that you’re making history?
Massa: I know what I’m doing, but I’m not thinking about it because it can be really overwhelming. I just want to think about one match at a time and see where it goes.
WIN: You announced your commitment to the University of Michigan in the gym at your high school. Was it full? How many people were there? What kind of atmosphere was it?
Massa: It wasn’t full or anything. The local newspapers were there, my teammates, a lot of my friends and some of the parents. It wasn’t really that big, just kind of an after-school thing, but it felt kind of cool.
WIN: Your decision came down to Michigan and Michigan State. I’m sure the changes Michigan made to their coaching staff were a big factor in your decision.
Massa: They made a huge difference. It was a really tough decision, because I’m really close to (Michigan State assistant coach) Chris Williams. He’s worked with me since I was, like, seven years old, and I really owe a lot to him. But last year, I was considering places like Wisconsin because of (assistant coach) Donny Pritzlaff, and Northwestern because of (former Overtime School of Wrestling head coach) Sean Bormet. When you have them, and the facilities at Michigan, and what a great person (coach) Joe McFarland is, and the guys I’m going to be able to work out with, I knew it was the place for me.
WIN: Who are some of the Olympic guys you’ll get to work out with?
Massa: Well, the Churellas are both working out there now as are Jake Herbert, Mike Poeta, Jimmy Kennedy, Andrew Howe and probably others, too.
WIN: You grew up in the shadow of Michigan State. As a native Michigander, you know the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry better than most. What kind of a rivalry is it?
Massa: It’s really big, especially like a couple of weeks ago when they played each other (in football). It’s one of the big weekends of the year. Everywhere you go, everybody will be dressed in one set of colors or the other. They even have a contest at school, who’s for one (school) and who’s for the other. I guess it’s just the atmosphere. I’m not that big of a football fan, so I don’t really have that much of a loyalty to one over the other. I guess I want to see them both win because I want the Big Ten to do well.
(The rest of this article can be found in the Dec. 2, 2011 issue of Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine. To subscribe to WIN, click on the “Subscribe” button on this website or by calling the WIN office at 1-888-305-0606.)