When Campus senior Tyler Bastian steps on the mat, it is evident that he is the complete 285 pounds that the heavyweight division allows. In fact, he had to cut weight to make that figure.
Bastian preys on opponents with preconceived notions that are expecting a slow-paced match with not much movement. That’s when he goes to work, surprising them with his agility and technique.
It shouldn’t be a surprise anymore, as Bastian has won all 17 of his matches this season by pin entering a dual at Salina Central on Thursday. After finishing fifth in Class 6A last season, Bastian has ascended to No. 2 in the latest coaches rankings.
“I feel like nothing stands in my way when I’m out there on the mat,” Bastian said. “There’s just something about this season, my senior year, I don’t know how to describe it. I know I’m one of the best and I’ve got to go out there and show it. I can’t hold anything back, I’ve just got to go.”
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Bastian did not qualify for state in his first two seasons, but did so last year as a junior and was proud to medal in his first appearance.
That left him wanting more — 17 pins in 17 matches speaks to his drive.
“For as big as he is, he moves extremely well, which is a huge asset to him,” Campus coach Jim Dryden said. “He’s not only bigger than most heavyweights, but he’s more athletic, quicker, faster, stronger. He’s just the complete package of what you would want from a heavyweight.”
The addition of assistant coach Nathan McCormick has aided Bastian.
Before this season, Bastian wasn’t able to practice against someone close to his size or caliber. It affected his growth, even though Dryden said he worked harder than anyone in the room every day in practice.
“We didn’t really have another wrestler in the room that could push him to the level that he needed to be pushed,” Dryden said. “It’s good now that we have a bigger weight guy in the room that can challenge him.”
McCormick qualified for the NCAA Championships three times in his career at Missouri. Bastian is confident in saying he won’t wrestle anyone better than McCormick this season. It’s driven him to work even harder in practice and strive for more. He says he’s not stopping until he has a gold medal.
“Having Coach McCormick around has changed my work mentality so much,” Bastian said. “He really helps prepare me for what I’m going to see in my matches. I’m so grateful and seeing all of this work start to pay off, it just makes me push even harder. I’m not going to back down until I get what I want.”
State’s best head to Derby — Derby will host one of the most competitive tournaments in the state this Saturday, as 14 teams will be present and nine of them are ranked in their respective classes.
Five of the top eight Class 5A teams will be in attendance, as Goddard (No. 1), St. James Academy (No. 2), and Arkansas City (No. 3) will do battle against two of the best squads in 6A in Derby (No. 3) and Olathe North (No. 2).