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Dover-Eyota's Gust had an opportunity to go just about anywhere; at the end of the day he believed in RCTC

The two-time state champ certainly had the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Division II level, but ultimately being a Yellowjacket just felt right.

Individual State Wrestling Championships
Dover-Eyota’s Gavin Gust reacts after defeating Holdingford’s Drew Lange in the Class A 160-pound individual state championship match on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

EYOTA, Minn. — Back in late November, as he began his quest for his second consecutive state title in his final prep season, Gavin Gust was honest: This was pretty much it for his wrestling career.

He was ready for the next chapter in his life — one that included going through a program to become an electrical lineman.

Yet, as the Dover-Eyota senior went through his final high school wrestling season — dominant once again with a 49-2 record, while breaking the 25-year-old program mark for career wins (175) and capping it with a second consecutive Class A state championship — he got the itch to continue.

Brodie Kellen and Gavin Gust — good friends and longtime grappling partners — had talked about winning state titles together since early grade school. Saturday, they made that dream a reality.

"Once the season ended, I was like, 'I don't know if I can go on without this,'" Gust said. "Like, it comes to an end eventually, but I am not ready for it to be over yet."

He took a couple of different recruiting trips to the likes of perennial NCAA Division II power St. Cloud State — where state champion and Kasson-Mantorville standout Cole Glazier will wrestle next year — as well as Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D. Gust had a couple of other stellar Division II programs to check out, in Southwest Minnesota State (Marshall, Minn.) as well as Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D. Yet, none simply felt right for him.

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As he continued to train at the Guerrilla Wrestling Club's sessions at RCTC, he soon began to realize none of those situations felt like home, because the truth was, he had already found it.

"I just felt right at RCTC," Gust said. "Just how I fit in. What really makes me happy and what, you know, suits me the best is what it came down to."

He also got a little nudge from friend and fellow state champion Tucker Ginther of Caledonia/Houston.

The two had conversations about potentially continuing their respective careers at the next level together and when Ginther committed, that was the last nudge Gust needed to make his own decision.

Six state champions and state medalists highlight the 2022-23 Post Bulletin All-Area Boys Wrestling Team.

"We talked about it, saying how we both might go there," Gust said. "When he committed, it kind of influenced me a little to commit, too. We're pretty good friends. It's nice having friends with you on the same team."

Those two commitments made noise around the wrestling community and were big gets for a program that finished as the NJCAA non-scholarship runner-up a a few weeks ago at the national meet, under second-year head coach Andy Hackenmueller, who guided RCTC to a third consecutive national title in his first season at the helm.

"We have a title to win," coach Hackenmueller said when reached via text after the Ginther and Gust commitments were announced.

The two join a room that brings back plenty of talent, as well as eight freshmen to fill out the 10-man varsity lineup. They all know what's at stake — that includes Gust.

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"We are going there to win," Gust said. "And to win national titles."

The Yellowjackets recently placed second at nationals, snapping their three-year run at the top.

Now, though, for Gust, the plan is to enjoy his senior baseball season — one that he has high expectations for. Then it's time to figure out the best strategy to get himself ready for next year to compete for those junior college titles. After his two years at RCTC, the plan is to still go to linemen school, but who knows, perhaps he will once again find the right fit to continue his wrestling career. However, that's far off.

"That's the future," Gust said with a laugh. "There is plenty of time."

Alex VandenHouten has been a sports reporter at the Post Bulletin since Sept. 2021. He loves to go hiking, biking, snowshoeing and just simply being outdoors with his wife Olivia. Readers can reach Alex at avandenhouten@postbulletin.com.
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