Bishop Foley senior wins individual wrestling state title

By: Mark Vest | Madison - Park News | Published March 2, 2019

 Madison Heights Bishop Foley senior Kendel Taylor, left, wrestles against an opponent from Whitehall High during a state final match March 2 at Ford Field. Taylor came away as a Division 3 state champion.

Madison Heights Bishop Foley senior Kendel Taylor, left, wrestles against an opponent from Whitehall High during a state final match March 2 at Ford Field. Taylor came away as a Division 3 state champion.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes


DETROIT — Madison Heights Bishop Foley wrestler Kendel Taylor became the school’s first state champion since 1971 with a 9-3 victory against White Hall High's Kayleb Venema in a Division 3 state final March 2 at Ford Field.

“It’s wonderful,” the senior said. “I’ve been only at this sport for like four years, since my freshman year. It’s been a wild ride. … It’s just amazing.”

Taylor’s accomplishment also represented a first for his coach, Berney Gonzales, who also won a state title when he wrestled for Madison Heights Madison.

“Kendel came in with the tools to win this,” Gonzales said. “And he did exactly that. … He peaked at the right time. We just told (him) to have fun and not to get caught up in the lights and the hype. … I’m so proud of (him). Our first state champion, for me, in 34 years.”

Aside from his wrestling accomplishments — Taylor finished the season 37-4 overall — his skills as a running back also earned him a chance to play for the Naval Academy.

Winning a state championship can go a long way toward increasing his self-confidence before heading off to the Naval Academy.

“This is a huge build to my confidence,” Taylor said. “It gives me more confidence coming into the Naval Academy. … It gives me more confidence to lead people, to lead by example; one, by being the state champion, two, to encourage others.”

For as tough as wrestling is physically, Taylor was thinking about the mental challenges of the sport following his victory.

“It is mentally taxing,” he said. “The day before states I was crying. I was so worried that I might lose my first match. … I don’t like getting beat by one other person. … It encourages me to push harder, push farther. But it’s also very nerve-wracking. I was really nervous about this match.”

Taylor reflected on his time at Foley.

“It means so much,” he said. “I’m just so happy that I was able to go to (that) school. … It’s just been amazing.