NIXA – Nixa wrestling coach Dustin Martin recalls when state champion Christian Lance weighed 113 pounds as a freshman.
He went 56-0 at 220 pounds as a senior.
Lance signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to wrestle at the NCAA Division II level at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. Lance was somewhat new to wrestling as a freshman, but ascended to a perfect season in three years.
“To make that big of a jump in four years is pretty astonishing,” Martin said. “It was just hard work on his part through strength in the weight room and dedication in the wrestling room.”
Lance says he’s excited to join Jon Inman of Branson and Zach Kearney of Reeds Spring, both former opponents of his, on the Fort Hays State wrestling roster. Where Lance will fit depends on his weight. College wrestling has 10 weight classes compared to 14 in high school, so Lance will have to decide between 197 pounds and heavyweight, where wrestlers can weigh up to 285 pounds.
“After the season I would say I wanted to wrestle heavyweight, but then I wrestled with a bunch of college heavyweights. Once I got to feel them I was like ‘Man, these guys are pretty strong, maybe I should go to 197,'” Lance said.
Dropping to 197 will involve a weight loss plan for Nixa’s ace grappler.
“I usually hover around 225, 230, so it will be a pretty hefty cut to get down there,” Lance said.
Whichever weight class Lance attacks, he expects to be able to compete well from the neutral position, where both wrestlers are standing and attempting to take the opponent to the mat.
“His takedown was kind of his signature, very explosive,” Martin said. “I feel like on his feet, he’s going to be good, and he’s going to have to put some work in on the mat.”
Martin says Lance took some inspiration from former teammate Joe Velliquette, a three-time state champion from Nixa now wrestling at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I think he leaned on Joe Velliquette a little bit, watching him the last couple years and kind of had a role model. I’m kind of hoping our younger guys see (Lance) as a guy to model themselves off of,” Martin said.
To that end, Martin says Lance will benefit from the level of competition on his own team. Martin also wrestled for Fort Hays State, and spoke of the quality training partners the Tigers can offer.
“He’s getting ready to go to a room where there’s four of five guys around his weight that are at his same level, and I really think he’s going to get better and better each year,” Martin said.
Lance is undecided on an academic major at this time.