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By CINDY SIMPSON
A 2008 NCAA National Champion wrestler inspired a gathering of high school wrestlers from Roane County High and Midway High School last week.
Jordan Leen, an All American who wrestled for Cornell University, encouraged the youth with talks and demonstrations of moves.
“I’m a local product of East Tennessee wrestling,” said Leen, whose father, Mark Leen, is a former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling coach.
Before college, he was a student wrestler at The Baylor School, and he realizes that Tennessee isn’t what he called a “wrestling state.”
“We’re no less capable in Tennessee to realize our goals in this sport as guys in Pennsylvania and other power states,” he said.
Last Wednesday, his second day of leading practice for the team, Leen shared tips with the students who were teamed up.
With the help of one of their fellow students, he instructed them in moves such as the pinning combination of a cross- wrist tilt.
Now an assistant coach at Cornell, Leen became acquainted with Kingston wrestling coach Chris Adams at a camp attended by Adams’ son, Tyler Adams, and other students.
Leen has shown an interest in the team’s progress ever since, Adams said.
“He’s an awesome instructor, very good with kids, very complimentary — but tough as well,” Adams said.
Kingston, which co-ops with Midway, has the only wrestling program in the county.
“Currently I have two kids that are from Midway,” Adams said.
Adams wrestled in high school in Georgia and in the U.S. Air Force.
The Kingston squad is wrestling this year against some of the top squads in the state, including Bradley Central.
“They are the No. 1 team
in the state right now,” he
Adams said wrestling is a tough but rewarding sport. It’s a team effort, but it also recognizes individual wins of the participants.
“When you win, you get your hand raised,” he said.
Leen said people like Adams are necessary to encourage the growth of wrestling in Tennessee.
“People like to be part of good stuff” he said.
Some Kingston alumni have wrestled in college.
Adams said assistant coach Blake Hartley wrestled at King College, and Joe Driggers was an All American at Maryville College.