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Published: January 02, 2007 11:31 pm    print this story   email this story   comment on this story  

HS WRESTLING: GI's Schuster is small, but hoping for big results

By Nate Beutel
Greater Niagara Newspapers

GRAND ISLAND — He might only be 5-foot-3 — on the tips of his toes — but that hasn’t stopped Lee Schuster from becoming one of the top wrestlers at Grand Island High School.

Schuster, a sophomore, said he doesn’t think of his size as a handicap, but rather a better chance of scoring a pinfall.

“It’s fine (being short) because the lower you are, the more leverage you have when trying to take someone down,” he said. “Most of the people I wrestle are taller than me so that means their legs are longer, which is easier to shoot out and grab them and take ’em down.”

Another way for Schuster to make up for his lack of size is with technique, according to GI coach Jeff Johnston.

“Sometimes he gives up a lot of size, but he overcomes it because he’s a very technically sound wrestler,” the coach said.

Schuster agreed, adding that wrestling is more mental and visionary than it is physical.

“You have to know how to do it right instead of just trying to muscle people around,” he said. “You have to be confident and believe in your moves and yourself.”

With new state certifications that require a grappler to wrestle at least half of his matches at one weight class in effect this season, Schuster, who has wrestled at 96 pounds the last two years, was forced to move up. He had planned to wrestle at 103, but with team personnel and an unexpected spike in weight because of a heavy lifting program, Schuster was forced to move up to the ultra-competitive 112-pound division.

Johnston said the move was unfortunate for his sophomore standout, but in the end it will only improve his future in the sport.

“He’s at 112 and he weighs about 105 or 106 pounds, so at times this year he could be wrestling guys about 10 pounds more than him,” Johnston said. “It’s a learning process, but in the long run, I think it’ll make him an even better wrestler.”

Another thing that Johnston would like to see in the future from Schuster and the rest of his young team is a climb toward the top of the Niagara Frontier League. The Vikings are 3-5 overall and 0-2 in the NFL

“We’re experiencing some growing pains, but we just have to stick with it,” he said. “We have a real young team with only three juniors and one senior and we’re in one of the best wrestling leagues in Western New York. Grand Island has never won an NFL championship, so we’d like to start to compete with the top teams.”

Schuster went one step further.

“I think we can take over the NFL in the next year or two,” he said.

Those are lofty goals, but ones that a little guy with good moves and a big heart truly believes.

Contact Nate Beutel at 282-2311. Ext. 2262.


• SCHOOL: Grand Island

• SPORT: Wrestling

• GRADE: Sophomore

• WEIGHT CLASS: 112 lbs.

• 2006 RECORD: 10-4

• FAVORITE MOVE: Double leg takedown

• QUOTE: “....the lower you are, the more leverage you have when trying to take someone down.”

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James Neiss/staff photographer Grand Island, NY - Grand Island High School wrestlers Lee Schuster, 15, right, pins Joe Giambelluca, 15, during practice at the High School. None/ (Click for larger image)


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