COLUMBIA — Taylor Crane has yet to take a break from his wrestling career. He started in fourth grade, competed in camps throughout the Midwest and sits as a Rock Bridge senior preparing for a state championship in his weight class.
Crane’s path to recognition was a typical rise to success; except his recognition may be a little higher than that of others. In Wrestling International Newsmagazine’s annual preseason rankings for the 135-pound weight class, Crane was ranked No. 12 nationally. The high ranking came largely in part to Crane’s off-season tournaments and results.
“I definitely knew he was a phenomenal wrestler,” Rock Bridge coach Brook Harlan said. “But after wrestling a little more this summer, I think that he got a little bit more national notice.”
His career at Rock Bridge has paralleled his individual competition performances. Crane finished in the top five of the state tournament two of his three years, and if not for separating his left shoulder freshman year, he feels he would have at least made the tournament that year as well. Crane returned from the injury sophomore year with little doubt in his mindabout his abilities.
“I wrestled and won against some pretty good kids in the summer,” Crane said. “Going into the next year, I was pretty confident that I would be able to compete with the top kids in the state.” Crane followed through on his confidence, finishing fifth in the state tournament his sophomore year.
His success on the mat doesn’t shock Harlan.
“He had a great showing at the state tournament last year. He got third,” Harlan said. “So it (the ranking) definitely wasn’t a surprise, but it was a great thing to see.”
Before the season began, Harlan named Crane one of the three senior captains of the team and the honor wasn’t merely because of Crane’s talent. Harlan sees Crane as one of the motivators and hard workers of the team.
“He just has a heck of a work ethic. He’s always pushing everyone else,” Harlan said. “He’s definitely concerned about himself but he’s making sure everyone else is pushing themselves as well.”
Crane is looking to extend his career into the college ranks, regardless of where that may be. However, he is receiving interest from several Division I schools.
Before hemoves on, Crane has his eyes on something that has thus far eluded him in his high school career — a state championship.
“I’ll probably have one kid who I think will be a tough match, but other than that, there’s nobody else I really see beating me.”