By STEVE KRAH
Shawn Streck has gotten used to climbing to the top of the podium.
Streck (@S_streck95 on Twitter) was a junior high state champion in Indiana as a seventh grader. As a Merrillville High School junior, he went 46-0 and reigned among Indiana High School Athletic Association heavyweights, pinning Richmond senior Nathon Trawick in the finals.
As a sophomore, Streck placed third in the state. He was seventh as a freshman. He has been a heavyweight his whole high school career.
Now bound for Purdue University for both wrestling and football, Streck likes the view from on high and the 6-foot-3, 270-pounder wants to keep that vantage point.
So he keeps working as he keeps bulldozing opponents at the start of his senior season.
Advice from Merrillville coach David Maldonado rings in Streckâ€™s ears.
â€œHe says if you donâ€™t always look to get better, youâ€™re going to get beat,â€ Streck said during a break at the LaPorte Invitational where he helped the Pirates go 5-0 on Saturday, Dec. 5. â€œI just think about that everyday. If I donâ€™t get better, someoneâ€™s going to catch up to me and Iâ€™m not going to be at the top anymore.
â€œDonâ€™t look past anybody and keep working.â€
With his credentials, Streck is likely to get the best every opponent has to give.
â€œIâ€™m sure there is a target on my back, but I donâ€™t think about that and just go out and wrestle my match,â€ Streck said.
Maldonado reminds Streck that there are other heavyweights in Indiana with plenty of ability so he needs to stay humble and keep improving.
â€œHeâ€™s got to stay humble,â€ Maldonado said. â€œHeâ€™s had success for so long. If he doesnâ€™t continue to work, someone is going to catch him. Itâ€™s about staying focused and staying grounded.â€
That means that Streck, who moves more like a 160-pounder than a heavyweight, keeps working on his shots, changing levels, heavy hands, conditioning and his ability to break down an opponent.
While Streck is a good enough student that he plans to major in biology at Purdue with sights on a future career in the medical field, he also has the smarts on the mat.
â€œHeâ€™s got a real good wrestling IQ,â€ Maldonado said. â€œHe knows what to do in certain positions. Thatâ€™s huge, especially in high school athletics. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
â€œHeâ€™s very coachable. I can tell him what he needs to do and he does it.â€
Maldonado said it will be Streckâ€™s work ethic that helps him tackle tasks like being a college student plus a two-sport athlete on the NCAA Division I level.
Early in the recruiting process, Streck built a relationship with wrestling and football staffs in Boiler Nation. He will also have a long-time friend with similar goals as a roommate.
Penn senior Kobe Woods, the IHSAA 220-pound champion as a junior in 2014-15, plans to wrestle and may also play football at Purdue. Streck and Woods have known each other throughout high school and have been Team Indiana teammates.
On the football field for Merrillville this fall, Streck spent his fourth season as a defensive tackle. He also filled a need for the Class 6A Pirates (7-5) when he also played center on offense.
Streck said he prefers the defensive side of the ball.
â€œOn defense, you can get there and get nasty and make big plays,â€ Streck said.
Streck likes to be a playmaker.
He likes to make things happen.
He lives the view from he top.