Dual sport athlete the pride of Waconia High School, will wrestle for Gophers

WACONIA, Minn. -- Raw talent is raw at any age. Max McEnelly has gone from kindergarten free for alls, to wrestling freestyle on the US U17 World Team. This summer, he went to Rome and came back with a bronze medal.

"It's just cool a experience that not everyone gets to take and I'm grateful for it. But this isn't the end. I hope to make many more world teams after this. That's the goal," said McEnelly.

McEnelly is the top-ranked 195-pound high school wrestler in America. But he's also the most accomplished running back in Waconia history.

"I'm just excited I got to play my last year. A lot of people didn't know if I'd play because people didn't think I wanted to get hurt for wrestling. But I've been playing with them since I was a freshman in high school so felt like I'd let a lot of people down if I didn't come out and help my team win some football games," said McEnelly.

He did that. The Wildcats went 7-3 behind McEnelly's 31 rushing touchdowns -- top ten in the state in scores and yards.

"Football was one of the greatest joys of my life growing up and I'm sad to see it go. But I know wrestling is gonna take me to new places," said McEnelly.

McEnelly got a new feeling in late December -- he lost, snapping a 132-match high school win streak.

"Ever since that match I think about it every single day and I think about how I felt after that match and how I never want to feel that way again," said McEnelly.

McEnelly got his revenge and continues to be a favorite to join that elite list of Minnesota wrestlers to win four state titles.

"I've had that written down in my notes since I was a sophomore in high school, so to be able to get that chance this year is pretty special," said McEnelly.

College wrestling for the Gophers and more international competition is in the future for McEnelly -- a future he was preparing for even during the pandemic when facilities were closed.

"I'm a hard-hand fighter," said McEnelly. "I'm tough and a lot of these kids can't keep up with me."

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