When you think of a dominant wrestler, you may envision a big, type-A personality guy.

That’s not Lane Hunsberger.

The Cedaredge High School senior is a laid-back guy who values his faith, helping others and fostering friendships on the wrestling team.

Don’t get it twisted, though, when it’s time to wrestle or get something done, he goes in barrel-chested.

“I love the sport, it’s such a team atmosphere,” Hunsberger said. “On this team, we all watch each other’s matches instead of just sitting in our own little area when we’re not wrestling.”

The Western Slope has a strong tradition of great high school wrestlers, and few active grapplers fit that mold as well as Hunsberger. He finished second at state in 2020, and won the Class 2A 120-pound title in March. Now, as a senior, he has begun his title defense as the top-ranked wrestler at 132 in 2A, although he is now moving to 126.

Hunsberger, who called Palisade home until moving to Cedaredge in fifth grade, has been wrestling since he was three years old.

He made the Bruins’ varsity team as a freshman, but his path to a state champion began with failure.

In his freshman season, he qualified for state at 106 and won his first match. But in the second round, he was pinned by eventual champion Seth McFall of Fowler in 1 minute, 32 seconds.

He battled through the consolation rounds in a quest to place, but lost his final match.

Hunsberger said he had settled when he made state and it cost him a spot on the podium. All he could do was learn from the experience.

“I learned to go back ankles instead of over the top,” he quipped. “But really, I learned to not take anything for granted. At the time, I was just happy to be at state instead of winning. I took it for granted.”

As a sophomore, Hunsberger won a regional title and made it to the state finals at 113 where he lost a 12-2 major decision to Wray’s Cade Rockwell.

Although the loss stung, the season marked considerable improvement for Hunsberger.

His growth was attributed to his teammates. Every day in practice, he faced the likes of Trey Guyer — who won two state titles and twice placed second at state.

Since diamonds can only be cut by diamonds, Hunsberger had to improve his technique to compete with his champion teammates.

“They were technically sound. I never had an easy match against them and had to work for every takedown,” Hunsberger said.

That helped show Hunsberger wrestling isn’t all about how big you are.

“I think fundamentals are more important than raw strength. I’m pretty strong, I guess, but our team practices technique all the time,” he said. “We have a good coach (Cutter Garrison) who teaches us well, so we just have to practice a lot to get it down.”

Garrison praised Hunsberger as one of the hardest-working wrestlers on the team. And while Hunsberger’s on-mat success is impressive, his character off of the mat sticks out to Garrison the most.

“Lane is caring, he’s such a good kid. He’s always helping his teammates, he helps the pee-wee wrestlers and he’s just as caring outside of wrestling,” Garrison said.

After his sophomore success, Hunsberger continued to work at his craft, which led to last season’s breakthrough.

In a season shortened by COVID-19, he finished first at 113 at the Tournament of Champions in Vernal, Utah — pinning two of his four opponents.

He won another regional title to set up his memorable run at state. There, he beat Wray’s Brady Collins in a 5-3 sudden victory for the title.

Hunsberger is a serious contender for the title this year, and Garrison has seen him continue to improve.

“Lane is so versatile on his feet and he has a big arsenal to take a kid down,” Garrison said. “His character has grown, too. He’s a big-picture guy and is already thinking about his future and life after wrestling. You don’t see that a lot.”

Hunsberger hasn’t lost a step as he prepares to defend his title.

That’s because he has stuck with what works for him. He has won both tournaments he has competed in this season — the Warrior Classic and the Panther Invitational in Delta. His success, and that of so many others on the team, has helped Cedaredge rise to No. 2 in 2A.

Hunsberger believes he just needs to keep doing what he does best.

“Nothing has really changed. I just need to keep doing what got me (to the top) in the first place,” he said. “Part of that is before every match, I pray and remember the bible verse I have tattooed. Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ ”