It was family friend and former Servite High School Friar Luke McDonald, who introduced Liam Cronin to wrestling. And although the Servite senior didn’t begin competing until his freshman year, his late start in the sport hasn’t stopped him from making his mark in the record books.
The 17-year-old is coming off of his most successful season yet, finishing the year ranked second in the state and seventh in the nation in the 106-pound weight class, the highest finish for any wrestler in Servite’s history.
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Additionally, Cronin was named the 2015 Orange County Register Wrestler of the Year and the 2015 Orange County Wrestling Coaches Association Wrestler of the Year. And for the second consecutive year, he helped lead the Friars to the CIF Individual Meet Championship.
Despite his long list of achievements, Cronin remains humble, with his sights set on even bigger goals.
“It means a lot,” says Cronin of the recognition. “I worked really hard. Some of my goals, I came up short. But I’m proud of what I did. Some goals I have for myself [for next season] are to be CIF State Champion and go undefeated.”
He may have the bar set high for his final year at Servite, but Cronin feels that the bond he shares with his teammates is more significant than any goals he has in mind for himself.
“It’s really special representing the Friars because it’s a brotherhood as a team, and you don’t get that anywhere else,” says Cronin. “We support each other, whether we win or lose.”
Servite’s head wrestling coach, Alan Clinton, knows he has a special athlete in Cronin and believes that the standout wrestler is an even better person.
“Liam is an outstanding young man, the real deal—on the mat, in the classroom, in the weight room or out in public,” says Clinton. “He strives to be the best at whatever he is doing, and he’s a great human being with a competitive nature.”
Well-versed in all styles of wrestling, including folkstyle (used in high school competition), freestyle and Greco-Roman, Cronin trains and competes year-round and acknowledges the benefits of the discipline and goal-setting required of the sport.
“Wrestling has taught me how to be determined…how to work hard and push mentally through tough times,” says Cronin. “You learn how to grow up and be a man.”
The Orange resident is focused on being able to wrestle at a Division I college, something Clinton believes is attainable for Cronin. He’s not certain yet what field of study he will pursue, but Cronin will continue to improve what he believes are his God-given abilities.
“As a competitor, I know that every time I step on the mat, God is with me,” says Cronin. “I’m competing for him because he’s blessed me with a gift.”