BROOMFIELD — The pinnacle of the sport of high school wrestling on the national scene is Fargo, North Dakota.
You can imagine that most 16-18 year-olds would much rather spend their times in some sunny locales far away from the barron plains of Fargo.
But for the truly dedicated to their craft, the Fargo National Championships are the ultimate proving grounds and four of Legacy's finest from their top 10 team last season made their way north.
Graduated seniors Ryan Deakin and Nolan Funk as well seniors-to-be Aiden Funk and Drian Hays all showed well on the big stage, with Deakin — a two time Class 5A champion for the Lightning — winning the 145-pound Greco title.
"That's a first for Legacy," said coach Mike Thompson, who will have five of his graduated seniors compete at the next level — with Nolan Funk and Deakin both going Division I.
"That is one of the countries largest and most competitive events and to prove himself out there, just goes to show (Deakin) is one of the top kids in the country."
Deakin, who said he doesn't spend a lot of time training for the Greco Roman-style — a more upper-body based style— beat Utah's Jaron Jensen by a 2-1 decision in the championship match.
"It was really cool and a new experience for sure," said Deakin, who became a three-time All-American in North Dakota. "It's cool to do it on the big stage in such an iconic place in an event that has been going on for so long."
Through Thursday night, Deakin was a perfect 3-0, with three tech falls in his first three matches of the freestyle event.
"The Greco is fun and it is still wrestling, but it is also fun to change it up," he said. "I practiced (Greco) for a day or two before I got out here, but at the end of the day it is still just wrestling.
Nolan Funk, who finished as a runner-up at 195-pounds at state, has had a big summer as well. At the end of June, he was one of two wrestlers to go 9-0 at the Junior Greco-Roman National Dual in Tulsa and was named to the All-Tournament team.
It is a testament to Thompson and his program that has seen steady growth over the past decade. In addition to Deakin (Northwestern) and Nolan Funk (the Big12's South Dakota State), the Lightning will have Matt Hebel (Western Wyoming), Devan Cogil (Otero) and Trent Blazon (Otero) continuing on the mat in college.
"All those kids are strong academic kids too and wrestling I think sets the foundation to go on to college," Thompson said.