Webster a winner
OKLAHOMA CITY ' Wrestling is a sport of mountainous highs and cavernous lows. Oregon's Shane Webster has experienced them all.
Webster finished his college wrestling career on a high note Saturday, winning a national championship at 184 pounds with a 3-2 decision over No. 2 seed Roger Kish of the University of Minnesota in the NCAA Division I Championship Finals at the Ford Center.
Webster took an early 1-0 lead on an escape in the second period. Kish tied it up with an escape of his own, but Webster finished Kish off with a takedown with less than 30 seconds remaining in the match.
It was a sweet victory for a wrestler who has been through the grinder during his career.
After placing sixth at nationals in 2002, Webster redshirted the 2003-04 season. A year ago he went two and out at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, leaving him to believe he wasn't living up to the reputation that made him the top recruit in the nation at his weight class coming out of Crater High School.
— Webster was a three-time state champion during his run with the Comets.
I learned a big lesson going two and out last year, Webster said. I learned what not to do. This year I focused and I just put that into my wrestling.
When it was over, Webster sprinted to the edge of the mat and embraced both his coaches, Chuck Kearney and assistant Rick Stewart. He was both elated and relieved.
It's been a long road, Webster said. They've (his coaches) been behind me forever. They recruited me. It's been a roller coaster ride, up and down.
His finals match was one of the closer bouts of the night. Neither had faced each other in the past, but it didn't seem to matter as both were on the attack from the beginning. Webster didn't waste time sizing Kish up.
That's how I wrestle, Webster said. I go out and try to cut on people and get them tired. He's in good shape. I really didn't get many shots on him. I do a lot of takedowns and wrestle on my feet and it took me out of my match a little bit.
Webster said not being familiar with an opponent has its advantages.
Sometimes you get guys who you've wrestled before and you know what they're going to do, he said. But they know what you're going to do. They might change their style up. With guys you haven't wrestled before they'll do what they've always done.
Webster found a surrogate fan club in the thousands of Oklahoma State fans who were rooting him on to beat Kish. The Gophers were the Cowboys top rivals entering the tournament. Few Oregon fans were in the stands, but Webster didn't mind.
It didn't bother me at all, Webster said. I heard Oklahoma State rooting for me. At Oregon we don't qualify people a lot of the time so I'm kind of used to people rooting against me.
Webster did manage to spot one Duck fan in the crowd ' his father.
I knew right where my dad was, he was out there whooping and hollering, he said.
And with all he's been through, Webster's moment in the sun Saturday night might have been a little sweeter than most. He earned it the hard way.
That's a hard question, Webster said when asked if the adversity he faced made Saturday's win more sweet. I guess it does now. But at the time of the lows, it's not so good. But the high — the high is really nice.