Lansing’s Joseph Irwin has cooked up quite the wrestling career after two years with the Lions’ program.

Progressing a little further each season, Irwin has made a name for himself at the Class 5A level and there certainly seems no reason for him to not continue his ascension in the upcoming winter.

According to Lansing head coach Nick Flynn, the Lions now have a talented wrestler and leader to look up to as Irwin has transformed from just an athlete into an all-around pacesetter.

“There is a lot of changes in Joseph this summer,” Flynn said. “He has taken a lot of the focus off of himself and taken a lot more time (in the wrestling room) helping the freshmen coming up and taking a leadership role. It’s amazing once kids transition and get out of the ‘me’ and they start helping other kids, how much better they get and how fast it happens. He’s always grabbing younger kids, working with them and fine tuning their skills.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Joseph and those changes.”

Irwin believes he already had led without the title in the past, but acknowledges that Flynn is on point when assessing his development.

“Sometimes I would think I am really impatient for some of the kids and at the same time I taught them a certain move and they did a good job,” Irwin said. “Now those kids are learning more because of me and that’s a positive. I look at myself more when I work on a move and I try to perfect it so I can teach it. I think like a coach and don’t want to teach them the wrong way. 

“When I am on and off the mat, I am more looking around and seeing what people are doing and keeping the kids doing the right thing and making better decisions. I am trying to make myself an example. That’s where I have changed a lot this year.”

He has learned a lot about himself during the process.

“It’s a pretty important thing as a leader to do the right thing and if you aren’t, other people will do exactly what you do because you are the leader,” Irwin said. “I have learned a lot more about responsibility. I feel older. It’s a little scary to think I only have two years left. It’s gone by so fast.”

Irwin is expected to get much bigger and add more muscle on his already strong, sinewy build. Flynn would like to see him wrestle at least at 138 pounds, but wouldn’t mind to see him at 145.

“If we get him that big, I think that’s where he would be best with his style,” Flynn said. 

Irwin said he will wait and see what happens, but knows he can wrestle higher than 126, which he competed at last year at the Class 5A state tournament.

He will let his body determine what he needs to do.

“My mistake last year was that I was really big and then I cut weight too much and I lost my muscle and it affected my season a lot,” Irwin said. “I was like 138 and I dropped down to 120. I was definitely not enjoying life, but I thought it was the right thing to do. During the summer, I was winning a lot at 120 and thought that should be my weight class. I think I would have had better results at state if I was a little bit stronger. Now, I am just going to keep my technique up.

“Wrestling is not about cutting weight. It’s all about hard work. Most wrestlers don’t hit their full potential because of cutting weight.”

Irwin has traveled and competed in tournaments this summer and continued working on his game, but he still tries to do other kid things.

“I really love to work out in my house, that’s my safe space,” Irwin said. “If I am mad or upset about something, I get that stress out. I definitely watch a lot of Netflix. I watch ‘Family Guy’ and I love ‘South Park.’ I also watch ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash.’ I love watching those two shows. I do watch ‘Supergirl,’ and that’s the girliest thing I ever watch.”