For Adam Kluk, the heart of a champion was a little too much. A Highland junior who pushed himself to the limit, Kluk would go hard on the gridiron, but would feel out of sorts under certain circumstances.
As it turned out, his heart had an extra electrical pathway, causing it to race 250 times a minute.
“They had to burn the pathway,” Kluk said. “It would make me lightheaded, short of breath and with no energy.
“It was pretty scary, but awhile back I got a heart monitor. This year, it started happening more and more.”
After football season and before hitting the mat, Kluk had outpatient surgery to get the condition taken care of and now is back at 100 percent.
At full strength, he’s come to the mat with not only a new drive, but a new outlook on the sport.
It’s one more of appreciation as last year a torn anterior cruciate ligament cost him the beginning of the season, while this year his heart issues put things into perspective.
“(The setbacks) helped for sure,” Kluk said. “I knew last year how much I missed wrestling.
“I almost didn’t play football because I wanted to wrestle. It makes you realize how much you like doing physical activity. The hardest tournament last year was probably the (Walsh) Ironman when I watched Dan Mirman and Tyler Bloniak wrestle well (both placed). I was like, ‘Man, that should be me.’”
Kluk has taken off with that attitude in 2011.
After missing a state placing by one match as a sophomore, the 182-pounder enters today’s Medina Invitational Tournament with an unblemished 15-0 mark.
What’s more impressive is how the 2010 state placer is getting his hand raised.
When Edison’s Jordan Cole lost 9-5 to Kluk at the North Canton Hoover Holiday Tournament last week, it marked the first time someone went three periods with the junior without getting pinned.
“He attacks it,” Highland coach Paul Casey said. “He looks forward to competing and goes into every match the same way.
“When I watch him wrestle, it’s ‘Thump, thump, thump.’ He thumps people, but there’s a flow to it. He goes at them and never let’s them know what’s coming.”
That’s been Kluk’s attitude for years.
A 2009 junior high state champion, the Highland wrestler has a great sense of humor, but is very shy.
While others are bouncing up and down and staring holes through their opponents before the match, the unassuming Kluk is in his own little world.
But the second the whistle blows, opponents see an entirely different side.
“What’s nice about him even more so this year is he’s relaxed and comfortable before his matches,” Casey said. “He tries to put any nervousness aside. Everyone gets nervous for a big match. He tries to use it to his advantage.”
A third-place finisher at the MIT as a freshman, Kluk didn’t come back to the mat until the first week of January as a sophomore.
He’s hoping to make up for lost time today as the No. 2 seed.
Kluk sits behind Michigan state runner-up Kevin Beazley of Detroit Catholic and is in a weight class with four other district qualifiers.
Not that it means much to the junior.
“I always looked up to Dan Mirman when he wrestled here,” Kluk said. “When he had the bull’s-eye on his back, he said ‘Just keep your head on straight and don’t listen to what other people say. Just keep pushing.’ That’s what I try to do.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: 37th annual Medina Invitational Tournament.
When: Today 10 a.m.; Thursday 10 a.m./6 p.m.
Where: Medina High School.
County teams: Medina, Buckeye, Highland.
Last year’s champion: St. Edward (not in this year’s field).
Returning individual champions (with last year’s weight class): 103: Nathan Tomasello (Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy); 125: Dillon Campbell (Harrison); 130: Josh D’Urso (Springboro); 140: Zach Dailey (Massillon Perry).
What: 51st annual Brecksville Holiday Tournament.
When: Thursday 11 a.m.; Friday 10 a.m./6:30 p.m.
Where: Brecksville High School.
County team: Wadsworth.
Last year’s champion: Bedford St. Peter Chanel
Returning individual champions (with last year’s weight class): 103: Aaron Assad (Brecksville); 112: George DiCamillo (St. Ignatius); 125: Kagan Squire (Wadsworth); 130: Brent Fickel (Padua); 215: Nick Tavanello (Wadsworth); 285: Garrett Gray (Oregon Clay).