Published: November 13, 2013
Just a handful of years ago, the thought of wrestling at an unknown 2A school in far northeastern Colorado Springs might have stopped some who had aspirations of competing on the mat in college.
After all, who had ever heard of Discovery Canyon anyway?
On Wednesday in the Thunder gym, the short, yet impressive history of the wrestling program continued when seniors Tyler Oberg and David Traynor signed national letters of intent to compete and attend school at Columbia and Western State, respectively.
"They took a leap of faith, with our coaches and us, to go to this program at a new school," said Thunder coach Ron Sukle, who started things from scratch when the school opened for the 2007-08 year. "It all worked out. They worked hard and deserved what they got. I think we're headed in the right direction."
At least one Discovery Canyon wrestler has taken a seat at the table in each of the school's first four graduating classes since 2010-11. Oberg and Traynor followed Nick and Garrett Adams and AJ Rees in proving a school's age has little to do with desire and plenty of hard work.
"It's cool that we've started a tradition of wrestling here," said Oberg, last year's 4A state runner-up at 145 pounds. "We want to put ourselves on the map, and I think we already have. It's definitely a chain reaction. When we saw the older guys do it, it made us want to work harder. I definitely think we can continue this tradition."
Oberg long had dreams of attending an Ivy League institution. Soon, he'll start living that dream and wrestling for the Lions at the same time.
"When I was in the eighth grade, I had a lot of drive in school, and I did well in school," Oberg said. "It carried through high school, and I knew I could look at colleges like this. I visited in the summer. New York is a big change, but I can get used to it."
Sukle vividly remembers hearing an expected response from a young student.
"I remember Tyler sitting in my office and, out of the blue, asking him what he wanted to do," Sukle said. "He said right there that he wanted to go to an Ivy League school. That says a lot about his mentality and who he is. The maturity he had at the age, that was pretty cool and exciting to see him stay with it the whole time."
Traynor, who like Oberg, reached the finals of his weight class only to come up short, could have followed the footsteps of his father, who wrestled at Adams State.
Instead, a rival Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference team allowed Traynor to find his new home for the next several years. In Gunnison, he'll join former teammate Garrett Adams, a 2012 Discovery Canyon graduate.
And Traynor is quick to thank those who took the first steps at the then-fledgling program.
"We knew we were just getting started, but we knew Ron Sukle, and knew he was going to start something good," Traynor said. "I wanted to be part of that. Watching those guys, I wanted to be like those guys. They pushed us every day and I wanted to be as good as them. It paid off pretty good for the two of us today."