Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2006

Sullivan decides to go back to the mat

May 4, 2006

For many high school athletes, the college recruitment process is almost the same workload as one of their classes. There's highlight tapes to splice, letters to sort through, paperwork to fill out and interviews to do. For Dustin Sullivan, the recruitment process consisted mainly of picking up the phone.

Despite winning a regional championship this year, "Sully" wasn't planning on wrestling competitively in college, except maybe in intramurals. But that all changed when the Basehor-Linwood High School senior got a call from Jordan Nichols, the new head wrestling coach at York College in Nebraska. Fairly quickly Sullivan went from not planning on wrestling at all to deciding on a school where wrestling will take up much of his free time.

"It's a small school and not really a party town so there won't be a lot of distractions," he said. "I know this coach and I know his work ethic and I really wanted to wrestle under him."

Sullivan met Nichols years ago in Garden City, where he lived before coming to Basehor. Nichols was a star wrestler at the high school there and also at Fort Hays State, where he won a number of prestigious awards, including being named NCAA Division II All-American and the Kansas College Wrestler of the Year.

Sullivan knew Nichols well, even working at his wedding in Garden City and Nichols cultivated the relationship, coming to watch Sullivan wrestle at both the Garden City Invitational and the Bobcat Classic this year. After Nichols accepted the head coaching job at York in late February, Sullivan was one of the first recruits he went after. He called him a week after the state tournament and, this past week, the Basehor senior accepted a wrestling scholarship to York.

At York, Sullivan will wrestle at the NAIA Division II level and most of his meets and tournaments will be throughout the Midwest in places like Sioux City, Iowa and Wichita. The town of York itself, about 35 miles west of Lincoln, Neb., is a four hour drive from Basehor, which doesn't bother Sullivan too much.

"It'll be alright because there's a couple kids I know there from my old high school and I know the coach on a personal level," Sullivan said. "And I can always go home on weekends if I want to."

Whether he's at home or at school, Sullivan will likely be working on his conditioning. Nichols and the other York coaches have told him to expect a grueling regimen.

He'll also be part of building a program from the ground up, as York wrestling is only a few years old and Nichols is entering his first season as head coach. Sullivan, who was 26-8 last year and went to his second straight state tournament, should be a solid cornerstone to build around.

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