M3 Wrestling Academy returns with high marks after recent ISWA success

May 9—NEW PARIS — There is a phrase that those who step in and train at M3 Wrestling Academy in New Paris know well.

"Work hard, have fun, and score points."

The phrase is repeated often by trainer and founder of the academy Kyle Marsh. The athletes he coaches respond by following his advice, doing so most recently last weekend at the Indiana State Wrestling Associations' Freestyle and Greco-Roman State Finals in Avon just outside the state's capital.

The two wrestling styles wrapped up the second and third pieces to achieving the "triple crown", an achievement won by placing first in both styles as well as in Folkstyle, which took place in March at Warren Central High School.

Like last year, two of his wrestlers reached the mark.

"It felt good," Kyle's son, Layten Marsh, said. "I won my second triple crown. Last two Greco matches were to get my triple crown. My mom was coaching me from the corner."

Layten and Naima Ghaffar, who is finishing up her sophomore year at NorthWood High School, both won triple crowns. Kyle said its the fourth and fifth times someone from his academy has achieved the high benchmark.

"I'm very confident in saying she's the first girls triple crown winner in this area ever because this is the first year they've ever let girls wrestle Greco," Kyle said. "I don't know how many other girls won a triple crown at the high school level but... Naima's special, man. She's going to do great things."

Ghaffar wrestled in the 130lbs weight class, winning first place in all three categories in the 16U division. She nearly repeated the trio of first place finishes in the 18U division, finishing second in the Greco championship match.

Layten competed in the 58lbs weight class and in the 12U division, winning his second triple crown last weekend.

"It was cool," Ghaffar said. "I was a little nervous because the weekend before I didn't wrestle that good and I was dealing with some stuff with my ear but I was just trying to trust in that I did the work."

The club as a whole also had other notable performances as well. Christina Kuemmel finished as the runner-up in the freestyle girls 14U, 130lbs division and Jerza Graber also took a runner-up finish in the freestyle boys 14U, 130lbs division. Brayden Hershberger finished second in the Greco 8U, 43lbs division as well.

Several other wrestlers also placed in either style including Logan Sponseller who was the Greco 12U, 59lbs champion.

Layten knows his favorite style but also differentiated on what was the most exciting.

"Freestyle is [my favorite] because you can lock your hands and get the match over very quick," Layten said, before noting with a large grin that Greco — a style that focuses on all upper-body action — was his favorite style.

Ghaffar is coming off her latest season in the IHSAA, which just fully sanctioned girls wrestling in the state for the 2024-25 season this past month. Before, Ghaffar helped wrestle for the Panthers boys team, also competing and making the Indiana High School Girls Wrestling state finals in January, finishing second in the 120lbs weight class.

"I've improved in just my wrestling overall and fixed some things and got better," Ghaffar said. "In freestyle I was still new to freestyle last year so I got better at it and understand it more."

Her recent performance also set her up to compete in what Kyle says can be compared to the Super Bowl of wrestling: a trip to Fargo, N.D. for the woman's nationals competition.

Any wrestler who finishes top three at the freestyle-Greco finals gets an automatic spot in the bracket which includes top three placers from each state in the United States. Ghaffar placed third last year but did not go. Now she's ready to take the next step, albeit feeling a bit of nerves for the July 9-14 event.

"I'm already a little nervous because I know it's one of the biggest tournaments and one of the biggest ones I've done ever," Ghaffar said.

It'll be the first trip to Fargo for any of the wrestlers who have wrestled under Kyle at M3, which also received it's name change in the fall last year, ditching what was formerly known as the Falcon Wrestling Club.

"I've never told anybody actually," Kyle said. "For me, I focus on my philosophy of coaching that is we're going to work hard, try to teach the kids the harder you work, the more fun you'll have and we talked about having fun and scoring points."

"My wife one night was like 'I've heard for five years now you tell them work hard, have fun and score points,' so I thought those three core values are what we're trying to chase so we went with M3 Wrestling Academy," Kyle said.

In additions to Ghaffar's trip to North Dakota is more opportunities for Kuemmel and Graber. While Ghaffar has also qualified to compete in the Cadet National Duals at the 16U division, Graber and Kuemmel have both qualified for the 14U Duals for the Indiana National Team — Graber on the men's side and Kuemmel on the girls.

As the national tournaments currently sit on the horizon, Kyle is now prepping those set to compete as well as the other individuals who got some well-received experience at the latest ISWA tournaments.

Like always, the three goals remain the same: work hard, have fun, and score points.

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at