As Edgemont freshman Cliffton Wang continued to rack up wins late in the season, it became clear that he could be a force in years to come. But what many didn’t see coming was the young Panther making the leap from up-and-comer to section champ so quickly. Wang pinned top-seeded Chris Santana of Pawling in the 138-pound Division 2 final to earn the first of what could be a handful of titles. His older brother Ray won it three times, and now Cliffton has the opportunity to go for four.
Here are Cliffton’s responses:
How did you get started with wrestling? My parents signed me up in second grade for me to “try it out.” My brother, Ray Wang, really got me into the sport when I was around sixth grade and that’s when I started getting serious about it.
What is it that you love about the sport? What I love about wrestling is that only you can control your success. I also love how it’s a team sport and an individual sport. You have your teammates and coaches to help you along the way, but only you can control how much time and effort you put into the sport.
Describe what was going through your head when the referee raised your hand after the finals: It felt like I could achieve anything in life as long as I put the effort into it. I also told myself that I’m not going to stop at a section title. I’m going for something more.
What was the most difficult obstacle that you had to overcome this season? I think it was the pressure that I put on myself to be better than my brother. My brother was a three-time section champ and I wanted to be better than him. I learned to relieve that pressure early on and focus on the section title.
What area do you feel that you’ve improved in the most over the course of the season? It really felt like I improved on everything this season. I just feel like an overall better wrestler than last year. A major aspect that I think helped me improve was developing a style of wrestling that suits my body type and just working on that.
What are you like off of the mat? I’m a good student, I like to have fun and I have lots of friends in school.
What is playing in your headphones while you get ready for a match? I don’t wear headphones while I’m warming up, I just focus on my match and what I’m going to do.
What is your favorite food? My favorite food is pasta.
Name one thing that’s interesting about you that people may not know about: I really couldn’t think of anything for this. I think people basically know a lot about me.
I’ll be running these “Meet the Champs” posts everyday leading up to states. I emailed all of the section champs that I had information, but if you didn’t receive one for some reason and would like to be included, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News