Miles Patton, a survivor in wrestling and life
There were a few weeks this season when Miles Patton didn’t care much about how things went on the wrestling mat.
In fact, the Rochester Mayo graduate and University of Minnesota fourth-year wrestler didn’t care much about anything in the weeks that followed Oct. 6.
That was easy to understand. Oct. 6 was the day that his beloved mother, Bonita Patton, died at age 60 from breast cancer.
"I took off of practice for about a week after my mom died," Patton said. "When I came back to practice, I was kind of zoned out. I just felt her loss. I’d get taken down at practice and I’d just sit there, thinking, ‘why do I want to get up?’"
Miles is the youngest of three sons to Bonita and Steve Patton. His mother took care of all kinds of people as a psychologist in Rochester. But nobody did she care for better than her own kids.
Indeed, it was her role as a mother that Miles said she embraced most.
"She was super caring and loving," he said. "She was always checking up on me, and checking my emotions and finding ways to better myself."
Miles’ emotional wounds aren’t nearly healed after just under three months of being without his mother. But he says he is making progress and making it while knowing that there is still so much in front of him.
That includes just a few months left of being a Division I wrestler. Then, in the fall, he will put all of that regimented athletic rigor behind him and find a new rigor, with his plan to attend law school.
Patton showed up at the University of Minnesota three years ago as a walk-on to its always star-studded wrestling team. He’d come off a senior year at Mayo feeling good about himself, having finished as a state tournament runner-up.
But Patton knew that cracking the Gophers’ lineup would be a serious challenge and maybe even a long shot. Still, in love with the sport, a workout fanatic and enticed by the opportunity to be a part of one of the top wrestling programs in the country, he took his shot anyway.
THE RIGHT CHOICE
Patton has never regretted his decision to go for it. He’s gotten more opportunities to wrestle when it counted for Minnesota than he expected. Injuries to teammates have landed him in the lineup many times over the last few seasons. Patton, now a 157-pounder, entered this season 16-16 overall over his Gophers career. He’s 2-3 this season, including 1-1 in dual meets.
"It has definitely been worth it," Patton said. "Honestly, wrestling is really hard with managing your weight, all of the travel, having to give it your all every day you are at practice. Some days you’re getting a bunch of takedowns, other days you’re getting taken down a lot. But it is worth it. It will pay dividends in the long run, with the mental aspect of it. I know having been through (Division I) wrestling that I can also get through law school."
Next weekend, Patton will head with his team to Florida where he is likely to get in four exhibition matches. And that might be it. Patton’s competitive career may be done after that, though he figures to keep practicing with his team the rest of the season.
There is a piece of him that’s dreading saying goodbye to wrestling.
The structured workouts that wrestling demands have been so much a part of who he is, for so long, that it won’t be easy to let that go.
"When you’re a wrestler, you’re never thinking about when you’re going to get a workout in," Patton said. "You’re never bored when you’re on a wrestling team."
Still, Patton is mostly OK with moving on. There is a new chapter waiting for him, and he welcomes it.
Miles Patton is a survivor. He’s withstood wrestling’s grind, and even tougher, the loss of his mother.
He’ll be taking that with him. All of it.