Before Keegan Schulz’s freshman year began at Munford High School four-plus years ago, wrestling was an afterthought.
He watched his sister, Sierra Schulz, find success as a wrestler at Munford High School while he was in middle school, but he had no plans to follow in her footsteps until a conversation with a friend about wrestling tryouts.
“My friend was going to do it and he asked me to come with him,” Schulz said.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Following a stellar high school career during which he qualified for state all four years and finished third last season, Schulz signed a wrestling scholarship Tuesday afternoon with Cumberland University, an NAIA school in Lebanon, Tenn.
David Cline became Munford’s wrestling coach when Schulz was a freshman.
“To be honest with you, this program was built on Keegan’s back,” Cline said. “We would not have been as involved in the summer and fall without him. I run a business and I’m trying to focus on that, but I have this kid blowing my phone up during the offseason saying we need to get to work. We didn’t really have any kind of offseason or youth program until Keegan wore me out about it.”
Munford has sent multiple wrestlers to the state meet since Cline became coach. Six advanced last season, highlighted by Schulz’s third place finish at 106 pounds.
“If I had to list qualities that led to his success, number one would be hard work because there’s no way you take a raw freshman in high school and get him to the podium by his senior year,” said Cline, noting that most of the best wrestlers in the state began when they were six or seven years old. “That hardly ever happens .. It’s my opinion that we together built this program into what it is.”
Schulz visited Cumberland in the spring and grappled with several college wrestlers. He clearly made an impression on the coaching staff.
“He was scrapping,” said Nate Croley, an assistant coach at Cumberland who attended Tuesday’s signing in the Munford High library. “He never once backed down from any of our returning All-Americans, which a lot of high school kids do. He was right in there wrestling hard with them. That’s something we look for. You never know what you’re going to get when a high school kid gets in there with college wrestlers. He was getting scores and taking kids down. It’s proof of his work ethic.”