Freshman Dylan Dwyer makes early impact for GVSU wrestling

Dwyer earned an individual championship at the 149 pound weight class in his first meet

| 11/2/16 10:23pm

Grand Valley State’s club wrestling team started its season by exposing seven new wrestlers to collegiate competition in the season opening Fall Brawl at Henry Ford College Saturday, Oct. 29.

One shining star of the event was freshman Dylan Dwyer, who came in first and claimed the championship for the 149-pound weight class in his first-ever career event.

“I just wanted to go out there and dominate,” Dwyer said. “I wasn’t playing around out there, and I wanted everyone there to remember my name for the next time I see them.”

Out of the seven new members competing, Dwyer and freshman Brenden DeVries were the only wrestlers to claim the individual championships for the Lakers. In Dwyer’s six-man tournament bracket, he won his only two matches by result of pin to claim the title in his weight class.

GVSU assistant coach John Sanderson praised Dwyer for his work ethic and improvements to his game since the first day of practice.

“When he comes into practice, he has a mission to get better every single day, bout, pin, and match,” Sanderson said.

Although the road to collegiate success has appeared easy for Dwyer, he admitted to struggling transitioning to the style of play from high school to the next level.

“In the practice room, you can’t get away with the funky business that I did in high school,” Dwyer said. “The game is a lot more technique and skill-based than I expected. I was not used to being pushed around that much and it was definitely a reality check.

“The one thing I’ve really taken away from the tough practices is the importance of technique and skill. I’ve made great strides on how to stay in position in just a short matter of time.”

Dwyer has been wrestling competitively since the fifth grade, but didn’t compete at the high school level until sophomore year because he said he was a "late bloomer." His new sense of physical maturity blossomed during his junior and senior year, as he set school records for season and career pins. He also qualified for the state finals his senior year, but couldn’t compete due to a rib cartilage injury.

“He’s been very prepared coming out of high school, and it shows in his game,” Sanderson said. “He has all the fundamentals down, which is very promising.”

The biggest motivation for Dywer to step up his game has been his fear of losing. Not only does he fear it, he loathes it.

“I can’t tolerate losing,” Dwyer said. “It’s just something I’ve never learned to enjoy, and I think that’s a good thing. It drives me to always better myself and to be better than everyone else.

“If I lose by a better competitor, I’ll shake his hand and accept it, but nobody is ever going to manhandle me on my watch. I refuse to be anything less than what I’m capable of.”

The coaching staff has noticed Dwyer’s confidence and has gladly embraced the winning attitude for years to come.

“If he’s already this confident and getting results as a freshman, then the future is very bright for this team,” Sanderson said.

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