Commerce High School junior Chance McCLure recently added yet another milestone to his already lengthy list of wrestling accomplishments.
McClure competed with over 700 of the best high school wrestlers from around the country, and when it was all said and done – he came home with a national title.
After winning the state title in the 195 lb. weight class back in February, McClure earned the chance to represent Georgia in the junior division of the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) High School National Wrestling Championship tournament at Virginia Beach.
In his first trip to the national tournament, McClure placed third as a freshman. This year, he was determined to improve on that finish.
McClure wrestled through a bracket of 39 state champions (six matches) from around the nation. While he easily pinned his way to the state title, the national title proved to be much more of a challenge.
“The level of competition was extremely high,” said McClure. “You have state champions from all different states – from the northeast, down south and all the way to California. It’s really tough to be able to compete at that high of a level. You can’t go out there unprepared.”
McClure said his biggest challenges of the tournament came in the quarterfinal and the final, both of which were decided in overtime.
In the bout for the championship, McClure faced New York state champion and three-time All-American Reggie Williams.
The match began in a deadlock, remaining scoreless through the first period. McClure struck first in the second, after escaping from the bottom position in the second period to go up 1-0. In the third period, Williams started on the bottom and also escaped to tie the match at 1-1.
With a minute left in the period, McClure earned a takedown to go up by two, but with only five seconds remaining, Williams reversed him to send the match into overtime at 3-3.
McClure quickly earned a takedown in overtime sealing his 53rd victory of the season and his first national title – the first ever for a Commerce Tiger.
When asked how it felt to win the national championship, McClure answered modestly.
“It’s just an honor to be given the opportunity just to go out there,’’ he said ”For me to have the opportunity to train with the people I trained with is an honor in itself. Winning the tournament just kind of adds on to it.”
Following his state title victory, McClure trained and conditioned for over two months and practiced five to six days a week in preparation for nationals.
“You have to train extensively,” added McClure. “It’s not like high school (state) where a talented kid can go out there and win. If you haven’t worked hard, you are going to get beat. I was put through the ringer and it paid off.”
McClure trained with his longtime coaches Dustin Kawa and Terry Allison of the Wrestling Academy in Lawrenceville. Kawa and Allison were also McClure’s ring coaches in his national matches.
“I’ve been with them since I was 9,” McClure added. “They’ve played a major role in my development.”
Even after winning a national championship, McClure insists on continuing training and tournaments.
He plans on competing in the 17 to 19-year-old Greco-freestyle national tournament in Fargo, ND, and the National High School Duals in Oklahoma City, OK, where he will represent Georgia on a team with the other top wrestlers in the state.
McClure plans on continuing his success through his senior year, where he will have the shot at a fourth state title and now – a second national title.