By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Ethan Turner has a lot on his mind heading into his senior season.
State championship expectations and goals will do that.
Wednesday, the Troy Christian senior — a three-time state placer and one-time individual state champion — took an important step in clearing a path to those goals, signing a national letter of intent to continue his wrestling career at the Division I college level at the University of Missouri.
“So much weight has just been lifted,” he said after the signing. “Now that everything is set and settled down, that weight is lifted off my shoulders so I can focus on what we want to do — which is put another banner up, both as an individual and as a team.”
For Turner, the decision to go to Missouri was an easy one once he saw the atmosphere around the wrestling team. In fact, he may feel like he never left home.
“The main thing was just the culture,” Turner said. “They just have an awesome culture there. It’s just a ‘work hard’ mentality, which is kind of what I’ve been used to here. I figured it would make the transition a lot easier.
“South Dakota State was definitely in the running, as well as a couple of other local schools. But once I went on the Missouri visit, I got there and was like ‘I can definitely see myself going here. The campus is super nice. And it’s not too big, either, but it’s definitely that college campus city where everything is built around it.”
And when it came time to get in touch with the Tigers, Turner, who plans on studying pre-chiropractic, had help from the former Eagles that had taken the same path.
“Zach Toal was actually a huge help,” Turner said. “He got me in, helped me get in contact with everyone and start forming relationships, and I really appreciate him.”
“This will be No. 3. Both the Toal boys went, too, Zach first and then B.J.,” Goudy said. “I really respect coach (Brian) Smith and the program he’s building there, and I think Ethan going to Missouri will be a good fit both ways. I think Ethan can definitely wrestle at that level, and he’s still got some growth to go. He’s not done. And I hope he can finish strong this year.”
For Turner and the Eagles, finishing strong means nothing less than state championships. After finishing third as a freshman, Turner won an individual title as a sophomore and was the runner-up last season, and the Troy Christian program owns four team titles.
History seems to favor the Eagles this year, too. Zach Toal was part of Troy Christian’s 2007, 2008 and 2009 state championship teams, and B.J. Toal wrestled for the Eagles the last time they won a state team title in 2013. Given that, having wrestlers headed to Missouri appears to be a positive sign.
“I definitely want to go out senior year as team state champs,” Turner said.
“That’s the goal, man, to help us go after No. 5 as a team,” Goudy said. “We think we have a legitimate shot, so that’s the goal, too.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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