Ronnie Beard will say there is nothing special about his unfinished basement in Goddard.
There is a set of makeshift monkey bars, large rubber bands, a punching bag and a pull-up bar. But it is not the average man-cave.
Beard's sons, Boaz and Dalton, have spent countless hours during summers and springs with their dad trying to better themselves. Their favorite part of the basement was the wrestling mat.
When they weren't doing homework, Dalton and Boaz spent their time training. Dalton started when he was about 4. It was hard work, but it also was competition with his brother. Who could train the most? Who could get a move down first?
"I told the kids every time you work out and when you train you put some pennies in a jar," Beard said. "At the end of the year you walk out on the mat, and you've got your jar and the other guy's got his jar. Whoever's got the most pennies is going to win. I wanted them to train hard."
Boaz, three years Dalton's senior, was a four-time Class 6A champion at Goddard and earned a wrestling scholarship to Iowa State, wrestling for a year before transferring to Emporia State to play baseball. Dalton, a senior at Goddard, will begin defense of his title today in the 189-pound division at the Class 6A tournament at Hartman Arena. He is one of three Goddard wrestlers preparing to defend titles (Kaleb Bonilla at 112, Trey Houlden at 140).
Dalton, who had to wrestle behind his brother and another four-time state champion, Tyler Caldwell, wants to experience the rush of being crowned champion again.
"It felt good. I finally won and it felt like all of my hard work had paid off after all of these years," Dalton said. "It's hard to really describe what it feels like."
Boaz, who visits the family during school breaks, still returns to the basement to train with Dalton. He has seen his brother improve and shape his own identity. Boaz never felt like Dalton was trying to follow in his footsteps.
"He's not a real show kind of wrestler, but he's technically sound and he works hard," Boaz said. "So he deserves every win he gets. I expect him to get the state title."
Dalton's laid-back demeanor has helped him to get through the trials of being a returning state champion and trying to pave his own wrestling legacy. Goddard coach Brett Means has noticed Dalton's unwavering demeanor.
"It's tough for a kid to go through the pressure and have to live through all of that," Means said. "But he's handled it very well. He doesn't get really excited. He doesn't have a lot of ups and downs emotionally during a match. He just plods along and takes care of business."
Ronnie Beard isn't surprised by his son's success. It stems from the early lessons taught in the basement.
"It's a way of getting them out there with the right attitude," he said. "It's like Dan Gable said, 'Once you've wrestled, everything else is easy.' And that's pretty much the way it is."