By Dave Ruden
FAIRFIELD — When Tim Kane was growing up, he tried all of the usual youth sports.
One really resonated.
“I was 5 or 6 and my father brought me to a local PAL wrestling tournament,” Kane recalled. “My father wrestled. It was something different besides baseball and football. It grabbed my attention more than other sports.”
Now it is Kane who has cast himself in the role of making others take notice. Kane is 15-0 for the Fairfield Warde wrestling team, which is currently ranked fourth in the state coaches’ poll.
Oh, and Kane is only a freshman.
“I’m surprised I’m doing so well this year,” Kane said. “There are some tough kids.”
Winning a state title in his first season, one of Kane’s goals, would not be unprecedented. His brother Charlie accomplished it last year, capturing the Class L championship at 126 pounds.
The Mustangs (9-1) have lost only to Xavier, currently the No. 2 team in the state. Kane is the newest addition to one of the state’s best programs.
“I’m not really surprised by it because Tim wrestled at a high level before,” Warde coach Jason Shaughnessy said. “He’s very mature on the mat. He’s got a great work ethic. He’s jumped right into the high school level successfully.”
Thus far, Kane has yet to be seriously tested, though he knows that will change.
“I’m going to have to beat the better kids and wrestle more offensively than they are,” he said.
The Kanes are a true wrestling family — youngest brother Peter, a 4th-grader, is an up-and-comer.
“They’ve been committed to the sport,” Shaughnessy said. “The father drives them all over the place and they put in the time and commitment. They generally wrestle 12 months a year. You put in that kind of time and get those kind of opportunities and it is going to pay off.”
Still, dominance by freshmen in sports is unusual, more so in one as physically demanding as wrestling.
“The challenge always for a freshman is, if you are wrestling a senior, the strength and experience factor,” Shaughnessy said. “You compare a 14- or 15-year-old to an 18-year-old and you are talking about a boy against basically a man. But Tim has the knowledge and expertise.”
Kane has yet to wrestle with Charlie, who has been sidelined with a back injury he suffered last summer at a tournament in Fargo, N.D. Shaughnessy said it is uncertain whether Charlie will return this season.
“It’s been really fun being part of the team,” Kane said. “I’ve met a bunch of new people. It’s more fun and I enjoy wrestling more.
The inevitable question is whether Kane is going to duplicate his brother’s accomplishment last year.
“Tim’s got a great chance to be a Class L state champion and possibly an Open state champion,” Shaugnessy said. “He’s got the qualities.”
Charlie Kane was 33-0 after the L meet a year ago before finishing the season with a 38-2 mark.
Kane said he hasn’t discussed the subject with his brother, though it is definitely on his radar.
“After he went undefeated last season I decided I might want to try for a goal like that,” Kane said. “I think it would be sort of crazy, but I kind of want it to happen.”