In the Engelking family, the love of wrestling stretches outside the work done on a greasy mat. For son Drake, it's a long trip to Pueblo with a group of his friends in a beat-up car and it's going to Disney World with his grandma. For dad Matt, it's time with his two boys.
Longmont wrestler Drake Engelking, returning for his senior season after winning the Class 4A 160-pound championship in February, spent another offseason traveling the country in the name of wrestling.
The Northern Colorado commit lost only once during his out-of-state tour this offseason as he traveled to Florida for the Disney Duals and went twice to Virginia Beach.
Over the past eight or so years, it's these kind of out-of-town trips that have become a tradition for Drake and his father Matt, who is also the coach at Longmont. It started when a young Drake was climbing up the ranks in club wrestling and had won a national tournament.
Around that point, "I was like, OK, we need to put some funding into this kid and give him some opportunities outside of the state of Colorado," Matt said. "So, we started traveling and going to Utah and back East and started hitting tournaments on a national level."
Since then, their wrestling scrapbook has extended to each coast.
In California, they noticed kids wrestled different than Iowa. And in Iowa they wrestled different from those in Virginia.
The journeys often included just Drake and his father. Other times, they included Matt, Drake and brother Brayden, a junior wrestler at Longmont.
A few times, it was even just Drake and his grandma.
"There was a trip where my mom took him, and they went to the one with the Disney park with the zoo animals and stuff," Matt said. "Actually, my mom took him out to Utah, too, one time. It's just funny, you have this gray-haired old lady taking these boys out to wrestle."
Back home, Drake is in his third year working with his future team at the University of Northern Colorado. The senior said he headed up to the Northern Colorado Regional Training Center around three times a week over the offseason to practice and compete in drills against collegiate athletes.
Drake said he's held his own better of late.
"They used to totally dominate me," Drake said. "Now, I'm hanging."
On to his senior season, Engelking is back after wrapping up a dominant junior year with a finals win over Thompson Valley's Hunter Williams. After the match, Engelking let out a triumphant scream — telling BoCoPreps it was an accumulation of the previous two state trips coming up short and the feeling of finally breaking through.
What lies in store this February? Engelking isn't getting ahead of himself.
The current goal is winning a prestigious tournament down in California later in December. Beyond that, he'll let things come to him.
He's just soaking it all in.
Said the senior, "the three things I love about this sport is the hard work ... my family, just their big, huge support, and I really wouldn't do it without my friends."
Brent W. New: email@example.com and @Brentwnew