Like any 2011 graduate, Parker Betts is excited to head off to college in a few short days.
"Yeah. Definitely. It's going to be great," Betts, who's headed to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, said.
Northern Michigan will welcome Betts into its Greco-Roman program, and with good reason. Betts captured the national title at the USA Wrestling National Championships, held in July.
It was his second trip to the Fargodome in North Dakota. Last year, he was eighth in junior freestyle.
"I liked Greco because it focuses so much on technique. You don't have a lot of scoring, either way, in my weight class [heavyweight]. It just looked like something I could do and succeed at."
Betts topped wrestlers from all over the map–Louisiana, Illinois, Kansas, Florida and Washington–on his way to the championship. He defeated Connor Medberry of Colorado 1-0 and 2-0 to earn the title.
Wrestling with the Minnesota Storm club, Betts also wrestled in other national tournaments, with some success. He "wrestled up," and faced some college freshmen and sophomores this summer. That's going to prepapre him for some tough work at Northern Michigan, he said.
"I could have wrestled at my level, but it was good for me to get that experience," he said.
Meanwhile, soon-to-be sophomore Tommy Thorn has been a force this summer.
Thorn wrestled his way to a championship at 105 pounds, winning nine matches in three days in Fargo. He faced wrestlers from South Dakota, Colorado, Pennsylvania and beyond on the way to topping Ronnie Bresser of Oregon 7-0, 3-1 in the final match.
It's also his second straight year as an All-American.
"It's a great event," Thorn said of Fargo after winning a state championship at 105 in Minnesota. "It keeps you going in the summer. You can't stop working. So you come into school prepared for a new season in November."
Thorn also took first place last spring at the USAW Folkstyle Nationals. He’s headed (now) to Hungary to wrestle international competition with the cadet team, including members of the Storm.
“Tommy’s just one of those kids who comes from a strong tradition there with his family,” said Knights head coach Dan Lefebrve. “He’s willing to put in the work. He has all the tools.”
In addition, Cole Sladek, a junior on the 2011-2012 roster, wrestled his way to sixth place in the 119-pound class. He earned his first All-American finish with a record of 6-3 in a group that included 94 wrestlers from around the country.
Other STMA wrestlers at the USA Nationals in Fargo were Aaron Dick, Mark Voss, Lincoln Mallinger, Jake Lillie, Jake Briggs, Ricky Briggs, Mitch Eull and Nick Edling.
As for Betts, he hopes to be back to check in on his former teammates when he can.
“Hopefully. I know they have a lot of tradition and a lot of success coming along. That was one thing I was so proud of. To wrestle for St. Michael-Albertville was a great thing for me. And to make the steps that we did [in classes], that was huge,” Betts said.