Tyler Ryan was coached by his father, Matt, throughout his entire high school career at Kenyon-Wanamingo.
The Hiawatha Valley League star won 155 bouts in that time. He finished his illustrious senior season with his second state championship.
His dad was in his corner directing him every step of the way, and they celebrated the state title together. It was a fitting end to a father coaching a son.
When Ryan committed to St. Cloud State University, he thought the days of being coached by his dad were over.
He was wrong.
SCSU has an outstanding wrestling history. The Huskies have won the Division II national title four out of the last five years. Freshmen – like Ryan – don’t just waltz into the building and immediately get inserted into the starting lineup.
Although he was one of the best wrestlers in Kenyon-Wanamingo history, Ryan needed to redshirt the 2019-20 season. Redshirts aren’t allowed to be coached by the SCSU coaches during open meets.
So, a familiar face has stepped into Ryan’s corner yet again.
“Since my dad retired (from coaching), he’s been at the open meets, so my dad has been in my corner for every open this year,” Ryan said. “It’s great to get the duo back together again. He coaches me just like he did in high school.”
Ryan has had an outstanding redshirt freshman season. He's 18-5 with eight pins.
“It’s been pretty fun, getting to the opens and getting in a bunch of matches against kids I’ve never gotten to wrestle,” Ryan said. “It’s awesome to be able to compete. That’s what we train for. It’s fun to wrestle other guys that aren’t your wrestling partners every day in practice. I need some real-life matches.”
NOTHING LIKE COMPETITION
For most redshirts, they're stuck in practice every day without the reward of game competition. But this is a different and unique opportunity for Ryan. Even though he’s not wasting a year of eligibility, he’s still able to compete.
It’s not like Ryan is only going up against scrubs, either. On Nov. 9, SCSU competed in the 49th-annual Bison Open at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
Ryan had his, “welcome-to-college” moment when he faced Minnesota’s star 174-pounder Devin Skatzka.
“I was really amped up to wrestle him,” Ryan said “But I got pinned in the first period. That was a wakeup call. I have a lot further to go.”
But that’s why Ryan chose SCSU. He knows he’s talented, but he also knows there’s a whole new level that he can reach.
“I’ve improved so much, and it’s because I have the best practice partners in the country,” Ryan said. “It’s not hard to get better when you’re practicing with such high-level guys and high-level teammates.”
SCSU is currently ranked No. 1 in the country in Division II, and the Huskies have heir eyes on another national championship. Ryan might not be in the lineup yet, but he’s setting himself up to be there for years to come.
“I’m going to have to keep getting better,” Ryan said. “It’s crazy being on a team that’s No. 1 in the country. We have an incredible atmosphere. We’re all focused on the same thing with the same mindset. We‘re going to do great things.”
And make no mistake about it, Ryan’s dad will continue to be in his corner as long as he can.