Staying focused on the prize: Qualifying for nationals a goal for former Central wrestler
Sean White usually comes home for the summer break.
This past summer, however, the Central High School graduate and Wartburg (Iowa) College wrestler stayed on campus.
“I lived up here so I could get stronger,” White said. “I want to do better and qualify for nationals.”
Those efforts are already paying off.
The 133-pound senior (13-4) is ranked ninth in the National Wrestling Coaches Association and second in the d3wrestle.com poll.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Central High School coach Laurence Gurule said. “In high school, he was focused.
“He’s stoked about wrestling this year. He’s not the most talented, but he’s one of the hardest workers.”
White began the season ranked eighth in the NWCA preseason poll. He placed sixth in the Harold Nichols Open after losing his first match to the top seed.
“I was happy I got the first one out of the way,” White said of the tournament. “I wasn’t wrestling my best. I’m happy I placed. It’s a tough tournament.”
White earned the second seed for the Concordia (Wis.) Open and reached the final, where he forfeited to a teammate.
On Saturday, White won the Simpson Storm Invitational in Indianola, Iowa.
White pinned two opponents and scored a technical fall and a major decision en route to the title.
“I got some goals worked up in my head,” he said. “I want to do so much. I learn from my wins and losses. College is a new experience.”
College was a rough experience at first.
Wrestling for a Division III program, student-athletes don’t redshirt or get athletic scholarship money.
White, who is studying fitness management and plans to go into personal training and coaching one day, didn’t see a lot of mat time his first two years and has yet to qualify for nationals. He is 62-34 in his college career.
“I’ve been burned out, myself,” White said. “I enjoy getting to the top. When I look back at it, it’s not just one match. It’s all the stuff I did before practice and after practice.”
White, though, knew it wouldn’t be easy cracking the lineup of one of the top programs in Division III.
The Knights won the Division III national title the past two seasons and have produced at least one All-American in the past 22 years.
“It was a big reason I came here,” he said. “I look forward to keeping it up.”
Wartburg lost seven wrestlers, including four national champions, from last season.
“We have a lot of guys on the team that haven’t been in the national spotlight,” White said. “We’re definitely excited about the opportunity. Every guy in the practice room is ready to take on the challenge of being in the championship round.”