F On My Chest: Rune Lawrence

Flip Through To Read Story & 20 Questions With Rune: Full Text: “After I feed and water these pigs, I can call you. If that works.” Feed and water these pigs. I read that line to myself. Again. And again. A few times. I was admittedly taken aback, not that there aren’t folks out there who do in fact spend time feeding and watering pigs, but rather this was the first time anyone had needed to push an interview back for that purpose. Now, I will admit that prior to speaking with Rune Lawrence I had never really heard Perryopolis, PA, and frankly I’m still not sure I can say I have. But what I can say is that I don’t think the opolis there is doing the same work as say metropolis. I mean sure it’s the same suffix, but one entails visions of steel and glass constructed in geometric configurations that stretch to the sky hundreds, even thousands, of feet above ground. A ground where thousands, or even millions, walk below through the shadows of these structures. That’s a metropolis. So synonymous with the hustle and bustle of “the city”, the word itself was the name where Superman called home, at least his home on Earth.  But what if instead of Metropolis, the Man of Steel had landed in rural Western PA? What if instead of a stand in for New York City, he found himself in a place likely the inspiration for Green Acres? What if instead of news reporter by day, this superhero was a farmhand. And instead of an S on the chest of a blue and red suit, it was an F on a red and white singlet. What if. Now, I’m not saying Rune Lawrence is Superman. And I’m not saying that some alien baby was sent to Earth from Krypton and ended up outside Perryopolis and became an elite high school wrestler. But what I am saying is that if something like that did actually happen, it would look a lot like the Frazier senior going for his 4th PA state title. Because he’s not just in the midst of one of those impressive 4 time state champion runs, he’s doing so in spectacularly dominant fashion. The way he man handles 215 pounders you wonder how he’d do stopping trains at full speed with his bare hands. You see the way he slips out of shot attempts with the quickness one might use to dodge a speeding bullet. And you start to think, hmm, there isn’t a wrestling superhero story there. Not in Marvel or DC lore. At least that I know of. But there could be. And if there is, no one would bat an eye if the inspiration were taken from watching Rune Lawrence this weekend in Hershey. What if. Well, until then, here’s the interview I did with him in an effort to understand how he’s become this dominant. “Alright man, you have to tell me, like walk me through, feed and water these pigs? What are you doing over there?” “That. That’s what I was doing, literally. We’re out here on a farm, it’s a family thing. We got pigs, beef cattle, it’s just what we do.” “Ok. Nothing wrong with that at all. Your message just kinda surprised me, you know. Like the casualness with which you said it. Like if I woke up tomorrow and there were pigs around to wash and feed, something would be wrong. But I guess in the same sense for you, if you were all of sudden surrounded by skyscrapers and whatnot kind of the same thing. So, I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of Perryopolis before setting up this talk and looking at where Frazier is. Describe the town, the school setting, what do y’all do for fun? Stuff like that.” “So it’s definitely pretty rural, a small town. There’s like 64 in my class. I think that’s the number. There’s some stuff that we get into like fishing and off-roading quads, dirt bikes.” “Oh, that’s cool for sure. So you still find time for all that in the midst of wrestling and while you’re on this path to dominance?” “No, not really.” “That makes sense. So, I know your brother came through the Frazier program first, was able to win a couple state titles. What’s been your experience now that you’re wrapping up your career there?” “Well, there’s been clear growth. Like I don’t even have to say, it’s obvious. Just in terms of numbers in the room, quality in the line up, being more and more competitive every time out. It really feels like a team. Guys are dedicated. It’s in a good place and still growing.” “Now, in a small town like that, and class size that small, are you someone people look up to, not just on the wrestling team but even on the campus as a whole. Like here’s this kid from our area, from this school this good at something?” “Well, I kind of stay to myself. I put in the work I need to. I help when I can but I also don’t know if the rest of the school realizes just how good someone is. Like, ooh I’m in class with Rune Lawrence, it’s nothing like that.” “I see. And with your brother coming up first and doing what he was able to, did that drive you at all entering high school, you were gonna top him, are you guys competitive, what is that like?” “Oh, we’re super competitive. No question about it.” “I’m an only child myself so I never really got to experience that sibling rivalry, competitiveness in the household. But you look at a lot of the top guys in the sport and they had at least one sibling they went up against all the time. What would you say sets you apart, what does Rune Lawrence bring to the sport that makes you so tough to deal

Nuthin But A G Thang: Alex Gutierrez

Flip Through To Read Story: Full Text: It doesn’t take a genius (heck, even I could draw these parallels) to equate wrestlers to warriors and wrestling to a battle. A battle of wits. A battle of wills. A battle of ultimate want to. And for those who really do want to win any battle, they’d be wise to heed the words of legendary strategist Sun Tzu, “Every battle is won before it is fought.” Words that sound great – amazing even – to win, before any fighting actually takes place. But to turn such a dream to reality… well, it doesn’t just happen. It’s not accidental. And it’s not magic. In fact, I’d say there’s a pretty clear path to setting oneself up for the sort of victory Tzu espoused lo these many centuries. A path that I’ve identified as having a few key steps, but no shortcuts. You can cheat yourself, but you can’t cheat the process. And what is that process exactly? Purpose. Preparation. Persistence. Simon Sinek made perhaps the most popular case for the importance of identifying one’s purpose and the role it plays in success. He referred to it as the “why” but you can call it whatever you want. The idea, of course, is that it is the underlying reason you, me, and we do anything. We all have finite time to work with and a need to figure out exactly how we spend that time we have. And the driving force behind that figuring out is the why, or the purpose. And it’s undeniable that having a clear purpose is important. It sets the compass, pointing you in the right direction. But it’s not enough. Not by a long shot. Every journey requires preparation. Even a trip to the grocery store usually entails a car that needs gas, an awareness of the weather outside, and things like traffic at a specific hour. Easy preparation, admittedly, but preparation nonetheless. Something a little more daunting, like say, scaling Mount Everest, requires even more precise and arduous preparation. And then something like achieving wrestling greatness might fall somewhere between those two endeavors, but no doubt requires its own preparation. A sharpening of the mind, body, and spirit are all necessary along this journey. And each of these aspects requires its own regimen and its diligence to reach optimum output or performance. And then, with all that being established and set, you have to have the mindset, the discipline, to stay the course. Because the cliché about god laughing at your plans is a cliché for a reason… almost nothing goes according to plan. But that doesn’t mean planning and preparation are therefore useless, quite the contrary. The more comfortable you are in the uncomfortable, the more scenarios you have accounted for and put yourself through, the more adaptable to those changes you become. The inability for us to ever fully control external variables around us only makes preparation tantamount. So, when things start to arise against your plans, will you still see it through? We’d all like to believe so, but if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to failure is paved with hopes and dreams. It takes more. And in this sport, it takes all you have. And then asks for more. And not everyone is built for it, and that’s fine. But for those few who are, we cheer them on and celebrate their greatness. But you’ll notice that as we talk about the things needed to chase greatness on the mat, and greatness off it, what isn’t necessary, and what can often be detrimental to it, is being loud about it. Boasting. Arrogant. Drawing unnecessary attention. What did we learn from Lil Wayne a little over 10 years ago? Real. G’s. Move. In. Silence. And while G literally means ‘gangster’, what it means to be gangster transcends any and every lifestyle and pursuit.  A real G knows what they want and goes after it. A real G doesn’t let anyone get in the way of their mission. A real G puts in work. Work that goes unnoticed, unpublished, and uncelebrated. NBA star Damian Lillard also has a quote along these lines, “if you want to look good in front of thousands, you have to outwork thousands in front of nobody.” Real. G’s. Move. In. Silence. Like lasagna, and like Alex Gutierrez. The Central Catholic sophomore has spent the better part of his early career under the radar and overlooked. But he’s been working, moving, behind the scenes, with one goal in mind: wrestling greatness. And he’s had the season so far to set himself up for it. This weekend he stands at the threshold of CA wrestling immortality. A state championship. A chance to prove that greatness can come from anywhere, anyone. If they really want it. He really wants it. It’s his why. And it’s here now. He’s here now. Prepared. Whether you heard him coming or not. I was able to speak with Alex briefly and learn a little more about the top seed at 132 pounds this weekend in Bakersfield. So, I ask everyone, describe your start in the sport? Sometimes it’s a deep family history and sometimes it’s like you’re the first in your family to wrestle. It’s not a deep family history, but my older brother was in it first and then I followed. And I was scared. But I learned quickly that I had to adapt and get tougher and over some years I was able to do that. And did you feel pressure to succeed early on? Not really, it was just something for us to do, to keep us busy. As I got more success and showed some potential then it was like ok we have to keep this going. So the pushing for more came once there was some success. I’d say when I got 3rd at Reno Worlds. So, you compete for Central Catholic in Modesto, but I

Meet Todd Wightman

Based in Western PA. Right in the heart of WPIAL country, Todd brings an insider’s view from the country’s epicenter  of wrestling. He’s excited to build on the TKDWN tradition of starting with the story first. The athletes, the coaches, their families and supporters, there is no shortage of stories to tell. And Todd will bring his unique perspective to help us continue to deliver top notch content for the world’s greatest sport!