Never one to back down from a challenge, Matt Striegel turned his natural ability, tireless work ethic and determination into record setting wrestling career at Belleville East that ended with a sixth-place medal at the Class 3A State Wrestling Tournament.
Now Striegel is ready for the next challenge.
A three-time Class 3A State Wrestling Tournament qualifier and the all-time leader in wins at Belleville East with 144, Striegel recently signed a NCAA Division I letter-of-intent to attend and wrestle for the University of Missouri, a national power.
“It was good to get the decision made. I went to a team camp at Missouri last summer and then I stayed for an individual camp as well. I got to talk to (Missouri) coach Brian Smith and they seemed interested. But then I didn’t hear from him for a long while,” Striegel said. “But we got in contact again a few weeks ago and I guess it’s been a couple of weeks now since I made up my mind.
“I’m going to redshirt my freshman year. But I’m OK with that. It will give me a chance to get in the weight room and practice room and become a stronger and better wrestler. I will be here for five years. But that’s fine. When you talk about Missouri wrestling, you are talking about one of the top programs in the nation. It’s a great one that turns out All-Americans every year and one that finishes in the top 10 at the NCAA Tournament almost every year. I’m looking forward to being a part of that program.”
Competing in the ultra competitive 170-pound weight class, Striegel finished 48-5 this past year and was a second team Belleville News-Democrat all-area wrestler. Striegel said he also considered Arizona State, Northern Illinois, McKendree and North Dakota State before realizing his dream to be a Missouri matman.
Striegel said he plans to major in nursing and minor in business while he helps the Tigers remain strong nationally.
In a roll call of great wrestling programs, it doesn’t take long to get to Missouri. The 2014-15 season was a history making one for Missouri which finished 24-0 in dual matches and ended the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation. Missouri placed fourth at the NCAA Tournament which was held in St. Louis in March.
Belleville East coach Maurice Brown said that Striegel has an exceptional career at Belleville East.
“Matt is a young man who has worked very hard in this sport and that’s what it takes. Now he is being rewarded for that hard work with the chance to compete for one of the top programs in the nation,” Brown said. “He’ll be a young freshman and I think its good he’s red-shirting next year because they (Missouri) will get him in the weight room and he’ll get stronger. It may take a little time, but I think he can wrestle and wrestle well at Missouri.”
Striegel hopes to wrestle in the 174-pound weight class, but knows that as he gets bigger and stronger that he will probably move up.
“I’m thinking I’ll start out wrestling at 174 which is a good weight for me. But I think the natural progression will me wrestle at 184,” Striegel said. “What area’s of wrestling do I need to improve on? Everything. I’ve got to improve on every aspect of the sport.
“I’m leaving June 1 to work out and I will probably take a couple of classes to kind of get used to everything. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Now he begins his quest to be an outstanding college wrestler.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2661.