CLIFTON PARK — Shenendehowa wrestling coach Rob Weeks will often point toward Kiernan Shanahan when trying to motivate one of his younger athletes to push a little harder.
Shanahan always did that while wearing the Plainsmen green, and so many rewards came his way.
“I think of all my qualities, that is the biggest one. I’ve got the heart to go against anyone,” Shanahan said. “I am going to scrap.”
It will be some time before the Shenendehowa senior gets to do that again. The two-time state runner-up had his final scholastic season end last month when he sustained a knee injury while going against Jacob Null of Dolgeville in the 160-pound title bout at the Wrangle in the Plains.
That loss by injury default left the multi-sport standout with a 160-20 career record.
“Not being able to accomplish my goals in high school will push me in college to get to the highest level,” said Shanahan, who has committed to North Carolina State. “I am using it as motivation.”
The just-turned 18-year-old plans to redshirt at NC State.
“I want to get healthy, get bigger, develop my skills. It’s a man’s game at that level,” Shanahan said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to slide into the starting lineup.”
Shanahan had pinned eight straight opponents to start his senior season before his right knee was injured. He tore his medial collateral ligament, anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus.
“He [Null] stepped around and put his weight on my knee, and I could hear it rip,” Shanahan said. “I had him on his back a couple of times before that and I was beating him 10-3. It happens. Now I have to move on.”
Shanahan was ranked No. 1 in the state and a favorite to win the 160-pound New York title after placing second as a sophomore and junior to Frankie Gissendanner of Penfield in a 145 bracket. Shanahan lost 7-6 in last season’s final in one of the most entertaining matches of the entire weekend.
“If they get an award for the most exciting match, that was it,” Weeks said that night. “They both left it on the mat.”
Shanahan had won his third straight Section II Class A and Section II Division I championships as a prelude to the 2018 state tournament.
“I definitely feel a little unfulfilled,” Shanahan said. “It gives me more drive for the future.”
Shanahan wrestled his sophomore season with a torn meniscus in his left knee. The same injury ended his senior football season just before the Section II playoffs.
Shanahan also competes in judo, and has won numerous championships.