Few athletes are able to find success both in their respective sport and in the classroom, but senior heavyweight wrestler Riley Shaw was able to do just that. Shaw recently concluded his decorated wrestling career at Cleveland State University with a third appearance at the NCAA tournament — a feat only 19 other CSU wrestlers have accomplished in the program’s history.
“I’m very honored to be in the same category as so many CSU wrestling greats,” Shaw said. “A lot of great wrestlers have come through Cleveland State over the years so it makes me very proud to be associated with those guys.”
Shaw began his collegiate wrestling career with a bang as he finished 22-13 as a freshman, which was good enough to earn him a berth at the NCAA tournament. Shaw continued to dominate heavyweights all across the country throughout the rest of his career, earning NCAA tournament bids during his junior and senior years as well.
Shaw also won the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) title during his junior and senior years. He knows his success would not have been possible without help from his family, friends and coaches.
“Of course, my [Head] Coach Ben Stehura played a huge role in transforming me into a competitive college wrestler,” Shaw said. “There are also a handful of guys who I have trained with over the years [who] have made me a [much] better wrestler. Fred Garcia, the graduate assistant for the wrestling team, is one of these guys.”
Shaw’s time at CSU did not come without trying times. Last spring, the CSU wrestling program was to be discontinued, and Shaw recalled the challenges it brought to him both as an athlete and a person.
“At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to do and [it] seemed like everything was falling apart,” Shaw recalled. “Fortunately, the team was restored and is secured for the long haul.”
In the classroom, Shaw was able to maintain a high GPA while becoming one of the best wrestlers in CSU history. He — and a number of other CSU athletes — was recognized for his outstanding achievements in the classroom at the John Konstantinos Athletic Honors Luncheon.
This luncheon — April 7 in the Wolstein Center — featured 166 student-athletes from CSU who proved to be accomplished in their sport and schoolwork.
Shaw credits his success to his keen sense of organization. He said prioritizing himself and laying out his schedule allowed him to overcome the challenges being a student-athlete posed.
There are many moments Shaw said he will remember as he moves on to the next chapter of his life, but he recalled one that stood out from the rest as his favorite moment at CSU.
“Without a doubt, when we wrestled [The] Ohio State [University] in Woodling Gym,” Shaw said. “Woodling was sold out — [over] 1,800 people — and they were selling standing room only tickets by the end of the night. We ended up losing the match, but it was close and everyone wrestled tough. [It was] by far the best wrestling crowd I have competed in front of.”
The crowd was mostly divided, but Shaw enjoyed the noise CSU fans brought to the gym. Shaw’s decision to attend CSU was one he never regretted. He said he loved the opportunity CSU gave him, so he took it and ran.
“I chose Cleveland State because of the opportunity to wrestle at a Division I level, the wrestling coaches and athletes,” Shaw explained. “When I came on my visit everything seemed to just fall into place, and I’m glad I picked CSU four years ago.”
As he closes this chapter of his life, he said he is looking forward to moving on to the new challenges he will face. Shaw will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
“I plan on going to law school in the future,” Shaw said. “I’m taking the next academic year off to study for the LSAT and get some work experience. [I] plan to enroll in law school in the fall of 2017.”