The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were among the prominent personalities in World Wrestling Entertainment some 10 years ago.
Like many kids, Fond du Lac’s Josh Adams was inspired by those and other WWE stars growing up, hoping to one day emulate what they did in the ring — which of course was all an act.
But while WWE is nothing more than highly-trained performers doing a variety of stunts, the sport which it claims to represent — wrestling — is definitely real. Chokeslams, Stone Cold Stunners and the People’s Elbow may have given Adams his initial interest in wrestling, but the actual sport is now what drives him.
And this year, he’s hoping to earn his version of a title belt: a WIAA state championship.
“I definitely plan on winning a state title this year,” Adams said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that I can do it.”
Adams, a senior on the Fond du Lac wrestling team, returns to the Cardinals after a 44-4 junior campaign that saw him advance to the WIAA Division 1 state individual wrestling tournament for the first time.
However, the story of Adams’ wrestling career to this point starts back when he was in elementary school. Kickstarted by his WWE fandom, Adams joined the true sport of wrestling and began to enjoy it, working at it ever since.
“In second grade, I watched a lot of WWE and was like ‘I want to try that,’” he said. “I thought it would transfer over to wrestling, which it didn’t, but it’s taken on a life of its own and the story basically tells itself.”
Developing his own style, Adams soon began to excel on the mat, working on his technique throughout the year and taking advantage of opportunities to wrestle at national tournaments against great competition.
While he views himself as being a better wrestler when he’s on his feet than when he’s on the mat, Adams’ goal every time out is to end the match as quickly as possible — with a pin.
“Every match I look to win. I’m looking to score as many points as possible and I’m looking to end the match as fast as possible,” Adams said. “Every moment, I’m looking for the win. Going aggressive. I’m more of a technique and speed guy than strength, but I do have the strength as well.”
Fond du Lac coach Joe Rens describes Adams as a solid all-around wrestler who can get it done in just about any situation. With his talent, work ethic and passion for the sport, he knows his star senior has what it takes to bring home gold at the end of the season.
“He’s solid in all positions. He’s wrestled a lot in the offseason, so he’s got a lot of experience,” Rens said. “He’s got to put it all together. He has the tools to be a state champ. … He’s a kid that’s put in a lot of time, way more than a lot of other kids have done. His commitment level is way up. Preventing an injury, I see him in the state finals, but you’ve got to get there first.”
Falling just short of the state tournament as both a freshman and a sophomore, Adams finally made it over the hump last year. While state didn’t end how he wanted, as Adams won his first match before losing his next two, the experience motivated him for this season. He not only has his eyes set on a Division 1 state championship, but a number of school records as well.
“First and foremost, a state title. A state title is my top goal,” Adams said. “Last year I broke the (Fond du Lac) season pin record. This year I plan on breaking the career pin record. I plan on breaking the career win record, I plan on breaking the season win record. I plan on getting my name on our record board the most that anyone’s ever done.”
Although he might start the year wrestling at 152 pounds, Adams soon plans to be back at his preferred weight of 145, which is what he wrestled at for most of last season, including at state.
As Adams embarks on his farewell high school wrestling tour this season, Rens noted how much he’s enjoyed coaching and just getting to know him and the level of excitement he brings to the sport.
“He’s been fun to be around,” Rens said. “I’ve learned stuff from him. He brings a passion to the sport and just has a wrestling mindset. He’s a wrestling guru and that’s refreshing. The kids really look up to him. They call him the Josh Adams. That has been really fun for us coaches. To be around successful kids breeds more successful kids.”
Adams has been in contact with coaching staffs for the UW-La Crosse and UW-Parkside wrestling teams and plans to compete at the next level, wherever that may be. For Adams, wrestling has been and will continue to be a huge part of his life.
“I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for wrestling,” he said. “Wrestling has taught me pretty much everything in life — work ethic, discipline, grind. Everything I do has something to do with wrestling.”
Sam Oleson: (920) 907-7930, email@example.com or follow on Twitter @sam_olesonFDL