Twice is Neiss
Ronan's Cameron Neiss cruises to second state wrestling championship
It was the end of a great high school career, but two state championship titles could be just another launching point for Cameron Neiss.
The Ronan wrestler capped off his remarkable and final wrestling season as a two-time state wrestling champion, winning the 130-pound title last weekend in Billings.
It sure wasn't much of a surprise for those who know Neiss. And it sure wasn't a fluke. Neiss worked his tail off to earn that championship, one day at a time.
Neiss was known for doing the extra drill, lifting the extra weights and making the extra runs to prepare himself just a little more than everybody else.
"Cameron got the work done in the practice room day in and day out, pushing the team. He was always calling out for extras (drills), keeping the team motivated all the time," his head coach, Dustyn Azure explained. "He was always in the weight room in the morning, doing extra lifts and runs by himself. He'd do any little extra thing he could do."
It was always that extra dedication to the details that Azure appreciated in Neiss.
"He was always focusing on everything that needed to be done ... Cameron doesn't like to lose at anything, from wrestling to schoolwork to cribbage. He hates to lose," Azure said. "All along, he's been getting ready to wrestle in college ... and he's that kind of kid, goal-oriented and always pushing ahead."
Neiss also put in the extra work during the off-season.
"He didn't stop wrestling all summer. Last year he went to junior and senior nationals in Virginia and then went to summer camps and tournaments," Azure said. "He got a chance to gauge himself against other kids at Virginia Beach ... He didn't have the showing he wanted, but that just motivated him to work harder. He doesn't want to just be good at the state level, but at the national level, as well."
Neiss' second state championship may not have been a surprise to anyone who knew him, but richly deserved.
"It feels really good," Neiss said, trying to put into words what if means to win a second state title. "It's hard to explain ... It's like a payday for all the work you put in during high school and all the years before that."
Neiss started his wrestling career in first grade, but didn't wrestle again until fifth grade. But by then the wrestling bug had taken root and he didn't miss a beat after that. He was tempted to play basketball with the rest of his friends, but wrestling quickly became his first priority, following his father, Johnny, in the sport.
"I think I liked it as a kid just because I got to play with other kids and everybody wrestled in Middle School. As I got older, it got tougher and more business-like. I just like it ... the environment, the people and the experience," Neiss explained.
He became a winner in Little Guy wrestling and made the big transition to high school fairly easily. It helped that as an eighth-grader he served as a manager for the high school team.
"So, I was pretty familiar with (high school wrestling). My freshman year was easier than I thought it would be, except for the cuttin' weight part. That was pretty hard," Neiss explained.
It was hard work, of course, but he was determined and well-coached.
"My dad wrestled, so that kind of helped me decide and he helped me along the way. My dad is probably who I looked up to most as a wrestler and a role model. There's famous wrestlers like Gable, and I always appreciate those guys and all the coaches who helped me," he explained.
He placed second as a freshman at 98 pounds, then was third as a sophomore at 112 before winning the 125-pound title as a junior.
He started out at 135 pounds this year, but cut down to 130 to position himself and help the team position for a better state tournament. He'll stay at that weight as he prepares to wrestle at the senior nationals in Virginia Beach, Va., again this spring, where he hopes to do well and make an impression on college coaches.
"It's one of the toughest tournaments you can wrestle in. My main goal is to show up and