Troy sophomore TJ Murray ready to make history at D-I state wrestling tournament


TROY — When Troy High School sophomore TJ Murray makes history when walks onto the mat at the D-I state wrestling tournament at the Schottenstein Center Friday, he is not just going for the ride.

Which probably explains why he will become the first Troy sophomore to wrestle at the state meet and Troy’s first state qualifier since 2020, when Carolos Quintera qualified, but did not get to wrestle because of Covid.

“There was no doubt in mind I was going to wrestle at state this year,” Murray said. “To be honest, I was sure I was going to qualify for state last year. That was heartbreaking when I didn’t make it.”

As a freshman wrestling at 106 pounds, he advanced to the semifinals at district before finishing sixth.

“He really felt like he was going to make it and thing just didn’t quite work out at the end,” Troy coach Doug Curnes said. “I told people, this year’s bus ride home was a lot more enjoyable than last year’s.”

That was because Murray — moving up to 120 pounds, advanced to the district title match before being pinned by Tyton Kostoff of Colerain.

“At the beginning of the year, I wrote down my goals for the season and I had on their placing at state,” Murray said. “That hasn’t changed.”

Murray was confident, despite moving up to 120 pounds.

“You might think it would be tougher, but it really is about the same,” Murray said. “I came in at 140 (pounds, before the season), so the weight cut was about the same. Going into the district tournament, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that was I was going to qualify for state.”

He also has a legacy to live up to — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

His father, Troy assistant coach Tristan Murray was not just an outstanding running back at Tecumseh High School and Wittenberg University — he followed a fifth place finish in state wrestling his junior year by becoming the Arrows first state champion his senior year.

And TJ is well aware of that.

“Absolutely,” TJ Murray said. “This has been such a great experience to share with him. I am so lucky to have him in my life.”

And Curnes and assistant coach Chris Behm said it is entertaining in the Troy wrestling room.

“They are always bantering back-and-forth,” Curnes said about Tristan and TJ. “It is hilarious to listen to it.”

In the semifinals match last week, Murray handled Dimitri Mangano of Sycamore 12-6 to lock up his state berth.

“I took control of the match,” Murray said. “I went out and got takedowns. That is what I like to do. I knew I would beat him.”

Which is good enough for Curnes.

“When the coaches talk about who we are wrestling, we will talk about this guy does this well and this is what we have to watch for,” Curnes said. “When they tell me that about TJ’s opponent, I will say what does TJ think. And they will say, well TJ thinks he is going to win. And I say, well then TJ is probably going to win.”

Murray was a little disappointed abut this title match.

“I didn’t wrestle the way I felt I could,” Murray said. “I let him take the match to me and dictate the match and that is not me.”

Curnes agreed.

“That might have been that kids best match,” he said. “TJ didn’t react as well as that kid did. I think it would be a little different if they wrestled again.”

Murray, 42-8, will wrestle 21-8 Brett Stanley of Brecksville-Broadview Heights in the first round. He is a two-time state placer who finished seventh at 113 pounds last year.

“I watched him wrestle at state last year,” Murray said. “It is certainly a winnable match. I think going over there last year will certainly prepare me for the atmosphere. I am glad I did that.”

Curnes said it is not the simple.

“I have taken a number of kids over there,” he said. “Walking out there for the first time — it will be a little bit of a shock for TJ (Murray). We are going to get there early and let him walk around and see everything. It is our job to get him ready to wrestle.”

Murray will take care of the rest — because he is not just going for the ride.

Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]

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