Undersized Franklin senior holds own against bigger foes

As heavyweights go, Franklin wrestler Manny Cheam isn’t heavy at all.

The senior takes the mat for matches weighing approximately 235 pounds — or 50 less than the maximum in the 285 class — which would seem to put him at a disadvantage.

Actually, the opposite is true.

Cheam, who stands 5-foot-8, has combined quickness, strength and a low center of gravity to rise to No. 8 in the state rankings. His record this season is 24-1 after winning four of five matches in the Grizzly Cubs’ own Super Six tournament.

“I’ve run into a few 260s and 270s, and I think I might wrestled one kid this season who was 280,” Cheam said. “I’m a lot quicker than a lot of heavyweights I wrestle.

“Confidence is a big thing for me. I need to think I’m going to be the top dog to wrestle like that.”

Able to squat up to 600 pounds and bench press 340, Cheam’s strength factors into his mat success the way it did in football season. He finished the fall as Franklin’s third-leading tackler with 85.

Cheam also participates in track and field, and he will graduate with 10 varsity letters.

Longtime Cubs wrestling coach Bob Hasseman also has been Cheam’s defensive coordinator in football.

Hasseman laughs remembering the days leading up to the county tournament in December. It’s here Cheam attempted to cut enough weight to wrestle 220 the way he had the previous three seasons.

“He got down to about 226, and I said, ‘Nah, you’re a heavyweight,’” Hasseman said. “Manny is a good athlete and just really outquicks people. And he might be one of the stronger kids we’ve had here.

“He’s a four-year starter who knows all the moves. I think he could place at the state tournament. Sometimes the heavier you go, the better it is for you.”

The Cheam file

Name: Manny Cheam

Age: 17

Born: San Diego

Family: Parents Pak and Melody; sister Kelody, 21; brother Ryan, 14

Favorite TV show: “The Walking Dead”

Favorite food: Steak

Favorite movie: “Friday Night Lights”

Favorite athlete: J.J. Watt

Favorite team: Los Angeles Chargers

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.