BROOMFIELD — Ryan Deakin's journey in the wrestling world is really just beginning.
The two-time state champion from Legacy High School recently finished his first season at Northwestern University — where he finished second on the team with 19 wins — and then last week earned a spot on Team USA.
Deakin rolled though an immensely talented 66kg bracket at the Junior World Qualifying tournament in Las Vegas, beating Iowa State's Kalen Storr in the final to earn a spot on the team that will compete in the UWW Junior World Championships in Tampere, Finland, Aug. 1-6.
"It was awesome and really cool. It's a unique opportunity and I am looking forward to going to Finland and representing Team USA," Deakin said. "It will be an experience for sure."
It is just the latest in a long line of successes for Deakin since he graduated from Legacy in the spring of 2016.
During his freshman year with the Wildcats he redshirted and wrestled unattached against the nations top collegiate talent.
After winning four of his first five matches in purple and white, Deakin finished third at the prestigious Midlands tournament — taking down No. 13 Davion Jeffries (Oklahoma), No. 15 Alfred Bannister (Maryland), No. 17 Jordan Laster (Princeton), No. 19 Andrew Crone (Wisconsin), and then-No. 18 Joey Delgado (Oregon State) along the way.
Deakin did not point to a specific match or moment during his freshman year maturation process, but instead began to understand, "as the year went on I just continued to gain confidence and realized that this is where I am supposed to be and that I can wrestle with anybody."
Like most wrestlers, who trust their process of getting better every practice and every match, Deakin believed in his ability and never doubted that he belonged in Chicago.
"Just being surrounded by a great coaching staff and partners, I've learned so much this year and just to be in that environment helped me grow so much as a wrestler this year," he said. "You kind of go in thinking that it is going to be tough and you try to prepare for that as much as you can. But there were definitely some eye opening workouts and matches, but the general trend is trusting the process and continuing to get better."
On the way back from Las Vegas, Deakin stopped back home and showed up at his old stomping grounds for a two-day camp with his former high school coach Mike Thompson at Legacy.
Deakin and Northwestern head coach Matt Storniolo — who has been at Legacy in years past to do camps — spent the last two days with 35 kids in the Lightning wrestling room going over skills and techniques to make them better.
"Most of the kids that come to our camp are from Legacy and they know him and they have that relationship; so it is nice for them know someone at that level," Thompson said. " It's nice for him to come back and give back to the program; and it is part of what these kids are trying to do.
"Hopefully we will get a more regular showing from them in the coming years since Ryan is there and hopefully they come out here and do a camp every year."