After Overcoming Injuries to Win Two State Titles, Jimmy Kloc Chooses Buffalo

By Betsy Veysman

When Jimmy Kloc takes the mat in the future for the University at Buffalo, he knows it will be different than most of his high school bouts.

“Every match in college is tougher than a state finals match,” he said.

After what Kloc has gone through to win his New York State championships the past two seasons, that’s saying something.

As a junior, the Iroquois wrestler defeated Matt Ross 4-3 to win his first crown at 145 pounds despite tearing tendons in his finger during the bout.

“That was tough but I didn’t even notice how bad it was until after the match,” Kloc said. “To tell you the truth, I was in a lot more pain this year.”

Four days before defending his crown at the 2012 tournament, Kloc hyperextended his left elbow.

“I couldn’t straighten my arm to save my life,” he said.

Despite the injury, the all-time leader in victories for Iroquois was able to begin the event with a quick pin over Matt Matouzzi of Kellenberg before things got worse in his 14-11 quarterfinal victory over JT Romagnoli of Jamesville-Dewitt.

Kloc said he suffered a tear in his left shoulder during the bout.  Still, he battled to a 3-2 victory over Evan Wallace of Columbia in the semis before ending his career with a 7-4 decision over Corey Rasheed of Longwood in Saturday night’s finale.

“The injuries were on the same side, so basically my left arm was useless,” he said.  “I had to wrestle three matches like that but I was able to pull off the state title.   This year I was expected to win everything and I really didn’t want to mess that up.   I don’t think I’ll forget that last match.”

Another thing Kloc didn’t forget was his connection with Buffalo, especially as he went through his college decision-making process.

“I felt like I belonged at Buffalo because I spent so much time there when I was younger,” he said, adding that he plans to compete at 141 or 149 pounds. “I wrestled in the Super Six youth program, starting in seventh or eighth grade and that’s when I really started to get pretty good at wrestling.  I know a lot of guys on the team now and feel comfortable there.”

He also knows some of the other incoming Buffalo recruits, including undefeated state champions Tony Lock of Pioneer High and Chris Nevinger of Letchworth Central.

Both Lock and Nevinger went undefeated in the 2011-12 campaign and between them own four state titles and three NHSCA national championships.

Besides all standing on top of the podium in Albany in 2012, Kloc, Nevinger and Lock have something else in common other than their college destination – all were standouts on the gridiron as well.

Kloc, a running back who rushed for 1100 yards as a senior and made the Class A South team, will miss putting on the shoulder pads.

“I am going to miss every second of it,” Kloc said.  “I love football, but I’m just not the tallest man in the world.”

Not the tallest, but plenty tough, as his last two trips to the Times Union Center have proven.

 

Joining Kloc at Buffalo:

133/141        Erik Galloway (University of Pittsburgh transfer)

141/149        John Northrup (Rush Henrietta)

184                 Tony Lock (Pioneer)

157/165        Chris Nevinger (Letchworth Central)

184/197        Jarred Lux (North Allegheny)

Pioneer's Tony Lock Completes Perfect Season With a National Championship

 

By Betsy Veysman

If you’re looking for Tony Lock, there are many places to search.

He could be at the Middle School, helping a young student with homework and goal setting in a mentorship program.

Or he could be at a local church, assisting elderly attendees and helping to serve dinner and wash dishes.

Or if it’s 5:30 a.m. and a weekday, you can find him in the weight room at his school, where he religiously appears to get some early morning strength and conditioning work completed.

This past Sunday night, however, he wasn’t in any of those locations.  Instead, the Pioneer High senior was on top of the podium in Virginia Beach as he received his award as the 182-pound NHSCA National Champion.

In a field that boasted six wrestlers ranked in the top 20 nationally, the unranked Lock earned gold with a 5-4 victory in the tiebreakers over Oklahoma’s Nolan Boyd.

“It felt great,” Lock said. “I wasn’t really expecting it when I first got there. It was such a tough tournament.  Every match was a fight right up to the end.  I had to keep battling in every match.”

“It was probably one of the best feelings ever,” added Pioneer head coach Chris Edwards. “He’s such a great  young man and I couldn’t be happier for him.  I’m so proud of him.  His hard work paid off.”

In the semifinals, Lock faced Reece Wright-Conklin of Kansas.  The New York wrestler trailed 3-2 late in the bout but was in his best position — on top.  Lock went to work and was able to turn his opponent twice for a 6-3 decision.

“We felt Tony was the best conditioned 182 pounder there,” Edwards said. “Later in the matches, he could be more physical and we liked his chances.  You could see the surprise on his opponent’s face when he got tilted by Tony late in the match in the semis.  [Wright-Conklin] told us afterward that he hadn’t been tilted in two years.”

The victory sent Lock into the championship match against Boyd, ranked #16 in the country by WIN Magazine.

After both grapplers earned a reversal and an escape during regulation, the title bout went into overtime.  There was no scoring in sudden victory and Lock chose bottom in the first tiebreaker.

“When it came down to overtime, I felt pretty confident,” Lock said. “I knew I conditioned really well and was prepared.  Getting a takedown would have been nice, but once it went to the mat, I felt great.  I thought I could escape and since I scored first in the match, I would get choice if it went to the ultimate tiebreaker.”

It didn’t get to that juncture as Lock picked up an escape and a locked hands call on his opponent to move ahead 5-3.  When it was Boyd’s turn in the down position, Lock started with a strong ride and then locked up a cradle.  However, as time ticked off the clock, Boyd began to break the grip and Lock cut him for the 5-4 final.

“We felt that Tony could wear [Boyd] down and Tony executed perfectly,” Edwards said. “He pushed the pace and made it happen in the third overtime.  He had that cradle locked up for about 15 seconds, which actually felt like three hours to me.  He did the right thing to let him go and not risk a reversal or a scramble.  It was amazing.”

In winning the championship, Lock exceeded his goal of simply earning All-American status in Virginia Beach.  He also ended his high school career with his winning streak intact, having registered a 51-0 record in the Empire State this season on his way to his first state title.

However, if not for a very persistent coach, none of it would have happened. Because Tony Lock was far more interested in playing a different sport.

“When I was in seventh grade, the modified coach begged me to try wrestling every single day,” he said. “He saw that I was an athlete who didn’t play any sports at the time.  I really wanted to play basketball.  I finally said I would do a year of wrestling and then switch to basketball, but he persuaded me to stay.”

It’s easy to see why the coach pushed so hard.  In seventh grade, his first-ever year as a wrestler, Lock went undefeated at 145 pounds.  He jumped to the varsity level the following campaign.

Despite his late start in the sport, he rapidly improved, taking fourth in New York as a sophomore at 171 pounds, and he followed that up with a runner up finish a year ago.  This season, he was completely dominant, not allowing a single takedown and breezing through the state tournament without yielding any points.

“Tony works harder than any other kid I’ve been around and I have coached three different sports in 15 years,” said Edwards, who is also Lock’s football coach.  “His drive and focus are just unbelievable.”

This is one of the reasons Edwards believes Lock will make a smooth transition to college wrestling, where he will compete for the University at Buffalo, likely at 184 pounds.

“He hasn’t been wrestling for that long and he’s just taken off,” Edwards said. “He has such a high ceiling.  Coach [Jim] Beichner got quite a steal with Tony.  He’s going to be great.”

Lock believes that the Bulls program will provide him with all that he needs to be successful at the next level.

“When I went on my visit there, I saw the new room and all the new technology,” he said.  “I think all of the new things they have will help me excel.  I also was really excited about working out with Coach [Matt] Lackey.”

Before he moves on to college, Lock will spend the summer working on his strength training and competing in some folkstyle dual meet tournaments.  He’ll also continue with his various community service activities.

“I’m so proud of Tony,” Edwards said.  “I have three daughters, but if I had a son, I would want him to be like Tony.  On or off the football field or the wrestling mat, he’s just an awesome kid to be around.”

Except, according to Lock, when he starts to talk about one of his other passions.

“I love fishing,” Lock said. “When I get into my fishing stories, [coaches and teammates] try to end them fast.  They tune me out.”

After this weekend, the wrestling world and the national rankers are unlikely to tune out national champion Tony Lock.