Shakur Laney is among the best in the Mid-American Conference in his weight class.

But that came with patience — a year’s worth of patience. 

Despite his success this year, Laney hasn’t always been in the spotlight. His junior season was supposed to be special. He was looking to add to his dynamite 29-8 sophomore season. But then, he was forced to redshirt.

“It was tough watching,“ Laney said. “All I could think of the entire season was, ‘Man, that could be me out there,’ so when I did come back, I always had that thought in my head.”

That “tough to watch” redshirt year paid off. 

In the February coaches’ rankings, Laney sits in the No. 1 spot in the 125-pound weight class in the MAC, and he could be headed to the NCAA Championships if he fares well. 

Though he wasn’t able to wrestle, Laney, a redshirt junior from Canal Winchester, never fell behind on practice. Coach Joel Greenlee made sure of that.

“Coach Greenlee always made me tag along to the road trips and work out with the team,” Laney said. “He’d never let me fall behind and get lazy. He kept me doing all the workouts the starters did, saying ‘That can be you’.”

While he sat on the sidelines eager for action, Laney felt his benching was necessary. Watching instead of competing gave him the appreciation for wrestling he has now, as well as mental rest. 

Laney has stayed determined to put his time spent away to good use, not only to him but to the current redshirts on Ohio’s squad. He sees himself as a mentor, and he hopes the ones in the spot he used to be in can develop just as he did.

“I tell them take the redshirt serious,” Laney said. “I tell them to take it as an opportunity to grow and take chances to improve yourself. I remember when I was a freshman, and when older guys would tell me something, I’d kinda blow it off. Now that I’m older, I’m seeing it how they did.”

As for himself, Laney has put the time he’s given on the mat to productive use. With a record of 12-7 going into the MAC Championships, he will likely face Michael McGee of Old Dominion. McGee is ranked second in the MAC, right behind Laney. The two have met twice this season, and McGee claimed their most recent match when Ohio hosted Old Dominion on Feb. 8.

Maybe Laney will win the rematch when the MAC championships kick off March 8.

@thejackgleckler

jg011517@ohio.edu