Tim Rooney has found himself in the right place at the right weight.

He contemplated giving up wrestling after graduating from St. Charles Preparatory School in 2015, but came into his own during his redshirt sophomore season at Kent State. Rooney dropped 11 pounds from his high school weight of 152 and put together a 29-14 season.

"Wrestling in college was the best decision I ever made," he said. "I was going to hang it up, but (wrestling) has helped me get everything.

"I didn't get good grades in high school, comparatively. I had a 3.2 (GPA) in high school and I'm around 3.86 now. I was pretty much a straight C student in science and I was tutoring people in chemistry when I got here. I just had to get more organized."

A resident of Columbus' west side, Rooney is the only four-time state qualifier for St. Charles. He was the Division I runner-up at 152 as a senior, losing to Marysville's Taleb Rahmani 3-1 in the championship match for the program's highest finish.

Rooney was 42-2 as a senior to finish with a career record of 158-20. In his first three trips to state, he was fourth at 138 as a junior, fifth at 126 as a sophomore and 1-2 at 120 as a freshman.

After redshirting in his first year with the Golden Flashes, Rooney was 16-25 at 149 in 2016-17.

"(The weight loss) was more of a lifestyle change than being overweight," he said. "I wrestled 152 as a (high school) senior and then 149, but I just got on a good diet and was working out hard with one of our assistants, Danny Mitcheff.

"I was miserable at 149 because I was losing all of the time. Of my 25 losses, I probably was pinned 15 times. I was the only guy who could wrestle 149, so I was out there. Last summer, I changed my lead leg, my weight class and rededicated myself to wrestling. I didn't take my foot off the gas pedal once and I still haven't."

Golden Flashes coach Jim Andrassy said the transition from high school to college can be a difficult one, but Rooney is well on his way to becoming a polished wrestler instead of just another athlete.

"Tim is very athletic, and he can out-athletic his opponents sometimes," Andrassy said. "He's a pretty good wrestler in all positions, and he's gotten better and better as the years have gone by.

"He has better technique and he's in better shape. He has continued to improve and has taken the next steps necessary to keep moving forward."

Although his opponents are better in college, Rooney said it's still going mano a mano on the mat. The biggest differences are subtle changes that might not be noticeable to those in the stands.

"I didn't learn fundamentals in high school," he said. "I got by being strong and athletic, but everyone is strong and athletic in college. I wasn't going to get by with that anymore.

"The moves are all the same but the positioning and the minute details are different. You have to be so precise with your moves. Your hand placement on takedowns can only be off an inch or two and that will be the difference."

Rooney is majoring in exercise physiology with the goal of becoming a physician's assistant. He has remained in northeast Ohio this summer for an internship at Akron General Wellness Center.

"(The internship) is great, but it makes it more difficult to get in the (wrestling) room," he said. "I work Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays 7 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.), but I have teammates willing to get in the room with me after 5 (p.m.). On Wednesdays and Fridays, I'm able to work out with (Mitcheff)."

Those workouts are among the keys for Rooney as he aims to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time.

"I definitely want to be a national qualifier," he said. "I was fifth in the (Mid-American Conference) tournament (last season) and at one time I was 29th in the country with the top 33 making it to national.

"I don't think I was ready for the length and difficulty of the season. I had 43 matches and it really wore me down. That's what I'm working for over the summer. I want to be able to be at my best at the end of the season."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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