Chippewas’ Ball signs to wrestle for Midland University

Adam Ball was a solid middle school wrestler, but his freshman year didn’t go well.

The 2014 Manistee graduate lost a lot more than he won and his confidence wavered. But rather than backing off or quitting the sport, Ball rededicated himself.

“It could have went the other way,” said Manistee coach Chris Codden. “Adam chose the higher road, Adam chose to work, Adam chose to put in the time.”

Because of that choice, Ball will get another freshman season after recently signing to wrestle for Midland University in Fremont, Neb.

Adam Ball, a 2014 Manistee graduate, will wrestle at Midland University in Fremont, Neb. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate file photo)

Adam Ball, a 2014 Manistee graduate, will wrestle at Midland University in Fremont, Neb. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate file photo)

“Hard work,” is how Ball simply explained his rapid improvement as a wrestler. “You just have to put in the time. It’s just like anything else.”

Ball was unable to advance to even the individual regional his first two seasons before a breakout junior year in which he finished 50-13 and took eighth place at 215 pounds in the Division 3 state finals to become the first Chippewa to place at state since 2005.

“I realized I liked wrestling,” he said. “Before junior year, I didn’t really think of wrestling as a sport I wanted to do more than four years. I pretty much thought I wanted to do football after high school if I could. I don’t know why I changed my mind, I just enjoyed it.”

Ball continued to improve as a senior and dropped just one match during the regular season.

“The biggest thing with Adam is he never gave up,” Codden said. “His work ethic is unapproachable. In his class … he was one of the few that would put in the extra time.

“Like I told him before, the moment you pick up your duffle bag, someone else is putting theirs down and they’re going to keep going. He never had that problem. He would work after, he would work before.”

Ball won his first two matches of the 2014 state finals before losing 9-7 in the semifinals against eventual state champion Danny Drummond of Grand Rapids Catholic Central en route to a fourth-place finish. He finished his senior season at 52-3 for an overall high school record of 154-47.

“Adam made himself,” Codden said. “The coaches were there to help him along the way, but at the end of the day Adam did what he had to do.”

Ball first thought of wrestling in college after his junior year and began pursuing it further after his senior season. In addition to Midland, he was looking at a trio of other schools, including Olivet.

“The people (at Olivet) were awesome, but they didn’t A, have a nursing program, and B, it just costs a lot,” said Ball, who plans on pursing a nursing degree.

After some email communication with Midland assistant coach Antonio Barber, Ball met head coach Beau Vest at the Brute Nationals in April in Independence, Mo., and eventually decided to accept a scholarship offer and wrestle for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics program.

Ball hasn’t visited the campus yet, but knows the biggest challenge in front of him before he even arrives. There are just 10 collegiate weight classes and 215 pounds isn’t one of them. So Ball, who stands 6-foot-5, has to either move up to wrestle at heavyweight or down to 197 pounds.

“I’ve either got to gain 20 pounds or lose 20 pounds — I’m thinking 197,” he said. “If I gain 20 pounds I’ll be about 235 and the max weight is 285 — yeah, no thanks.”

However, Ball said there are some problems with dropping weight.

“I like to eat, I don’t like to run,” he said with a laugh.

Codden said he always wanted Ball to move up to heavyweight, but isn’t concerned.

“No matter what weight he goes, his work ethic will make it for him,” he said.

Ball’s initial goal is to simply make 197 pounds, but he’d also like to avoid being redshirted. He said the transition from middle school to varsity as a freshman prepared him for his next jump.

“That scared me, that change from middle school to high school,” he said. “I think I learned a lot and should be able to compete better than I did my freshman year.”

Ball, who started wrestling in seventh grade, is the first male to sign with a college in Codden’s seven seasons as Manistee head coach.

“At the end of his junior year, things were clicking for him, he started to trust in himself and the confidence was building,” Codden said. “By his senior year, he bloomed as much as he could at the high school level. I think going into college the sky is the limit for Adam. He’s got the potential to definitely move on into the collegiate All-American level.”

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