Andrew Nealan, New Richmond High School junior, is Clermont County’s only 2008 state wrestling qualifier returning for another season of competition.
Last year Nealan achieved a very impressive 41-12 record. He earned Southern Buckeye Conference all-star honors in addition to achieving Division II all-district laurels and he was champion of the Division II sectional tournament.
He competed in the 160-pound weight class.
“I love wrestling. It’s been a life-long thing for me and I love the one-on-one competition with having my strengths and weaknesses against someone else’s.
His dad, Rob, and his mom, Charlotte, are credited by their son as "being my first coaches."
His dad was a standout athlete at Clermont Northeastern High School and his mom was the same at New Richmond High School.
The outstanding Lion matman also qualified for state-wide competition when he competed in the sport in junior high school.
As a ninth grader Nealan registered a record that was impressive for young grapplers who competed in the middle or upper weight classes.
Freshman in those weight classes usually square off against older and more experienced wrestlers. Despite the age, experience, and strength obstacles, he achieved a very respectable 14-12 standard.
Being in excellent shape and having plenty of strength should insure any grappler a good career, but Nealan believes the sport is more mental than physical and this includes confidence and mental preparation.
"I have learned so much from all of my coaches," he said.
"Going to state was great. I was surprised I made it to state, but I knew I could if I worked hard and stayed with it," said the very dedicated and hard-working athlete who is also a Southern Buckeye Conference American Division all-star in football (running back) and track and field (sprints and relays).
Nealan's love of the sport, his intensity, hard-work ethic, dedication, and never quit attitude remind this writer of another outstanding wrestler from almost 20 yeas ago, Paul Dunaway of Goshen.
Dunaway returned from serious, and what was supposed to be, career-ending illness his senior year (1990) to pin his next 12 opponents with each match lasting less than 30 seconds and this is still a United States high school record. He was never pinned in his three-year career and owns the county record for the fastest pin by a Clermont County wrestler in a league tournament championship bout (21 seconds).
Deron Shinkle is the head wrestling coach at NRHS. He said, "Andrew works hard all the time. He's very focused."
"I expect our team to have a great season this year and I want to be one of our team leaders. My goal is to go to state and win and to lose fewer than five matches and not get pinned," Nealan said.