POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) — Poland High School’s Mike Audi always knew he was going to play high school football.
What he didn’t know, is that he would find a love for wrestling too.
“I just like the fact that it’s a physical one-on-one sport, and whoever is the toughest and best comes out on top,” Audi said.
Audi didn’t start wrestling until the 8th grade. Since then, he’s been named the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League wrestler of the year. He was a state qualifier as a junior and is the first wrestler in Poland history to win more than 100 matches.
“I’m definitely not a strength wrestler. I definitely don’t try to overpower kids, I try to use my speed and quickness usually against the bigger kids,” Audi said.
And Audi’s hard work on the mat pays off on the field. He was a two-way starter for the playoff bound Bulldogs, and 2nd team all-conference.
“Wrestling helped a lot with my football, especially with stuff at linebacker, getting off of blocks, using your hands. A lot with the offensive line this year, going up against bigger kids, using leverage and stuff like that, it definitely helped,” Audi said.
What it didn’t help with was maintaining his lean wrestling weight. The Poland senior weighed 210 pounds during football season, and now wrestles at 170.
“I wrestled at 170 last year too, at the state tournament. I gained 40 pounds after the season, so it’s always, like before football season, the lifting, the eating, it’s the complete opposite coming back to wrestling. I almost have to buy new clothes, like the clothes that, my jeans that were tight on me during football season, I have to wear a belt now. It’s just completely different,” he said.
In the classroom, Audi’s 3.5 grade point average earned him Academic All-Ohio honors.
“If you want to be good at a sport, you have to do hard work outside of practice. Same thing outside of school, gotta study, homework, everything like that. I see it as almost the same thing. Like with wrestling, what you put in, you get out of it. It’s the same with school,” Audi said.