Lakewood, Ohio has two high schools with very different wrestling teams. The public school, Lakewood High, dominated during World War II but hasn’t had a state champion since 1959. This may change with senior Matt Curley. Matt, who is naturally strong and wrestles with an unorthodox style, lives with his single mother in a small apartment and dreams of becoming a champion. Placing in the state as a junior, Matt will do anything to win, including training all week on a diet of just three oranges. Unfortunately, natural talent isn’t enough in wrestling. To be a state champion in Ohio requires dedication, discipline and time. The greatest challenge to being an Ohio champion, however, is right in Matt’s home town: St. Edward High School. For two generations, St. Edward has dominated Ohio high school wrestling. So many brackets from state champions occupy space in the Eagles’ wrestling room that some have been moved to the track above. Three of those brackets belong to their captain, Lance Palmer. Lance has wrestled since he was 9. He employs a ferocious physical style, using a version of the half-nelson which forces his opponents to get pinned – or suffer a broken arm. On his way to winning a third title as a junior, Lance pinned every opponent in the sectional, district and state tournaments, including Lakewood’s Matt Curley – twice. Sharing the credit for Lance’s success is his father, Dwayne, who made Lance lift weights on Christmas Day, then had his son repeat eighth grade to improve his chance of success in high school. Dwayne even has Lance wrestle full grown bears to hone his skills. “Pinned” is an intimate glimpse into the lives of two young men fighting for the same dream in radically different ways. Along the way are thrilling victories and agonizing defeats that reveal exactly what it takes to be a champion in a sport where pain is practiced and winning is worth any price.
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