Flip Through To Read Story & 20 Questions With Rune:

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“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 with?”

“Really just hard work and I hate losing. Like I hate it. I don’t know if that’s unique but I’m willing to admit it. You know, a lot of people try to downplay it, oh we’ll move on and learn from it. Sure, you can’t let it affect the next result but I hate losing. It pisses me off.”

“I definitely appreciate the honesty there. I do feel like folks try to sugarcoat the feeling or stay neutral but it’s ok to acknowledge that we feel angry, disappointment, all those things when we work hard for something and don’t get it. It’s ok to hate it.”

“And I do. So let’s not do it.”

“Let’s not. But, this does lead me to the last loss you have at this level, to another elite kid in the country, Correa, do you look at that like anxious to run it back? Do you make adjustments? Obviously, it was set up to meet in the Ironman finals and you got hurt the round before and had to default out. Do you still look at that as a match you want?”

“Of course. I like those challenges and I think where I’m at now, that would be exciting. So whenever it happens, probably college now if it does, it’s gonna be good. But I also can’t worry about that. I have this season to finish and so I’m focused on that.”

“As for the challenges, you prefer events like those where there’s a real chance you could lose but you know the competition each round is higher or the ones where you’re the clear favorite and should dominate through the finals?”

“I think there’s something to gain from both. I think that sometimes it’s good to work on stuff in a match setting that you should win but it’s outside the practice room. And I also think it’s good to step up in competition and test where you’re truly at.”

“For sure. That makes sense. Balance is key in like everything.”

“Exactly. A balance.”

“Like talking to a national media outlet about wrestling and getting your hands dirty in a pig trough.”

“Exactly like that.”

“So, you’ll be graduating and heading to West Virginia next year. Have you been doing anything to prepare for the next level? Have they been giving you any things to work on or anything like that?”

“Not much. Really just staying in touch, wishing me well for the season. Once the season’s over there’s an early enrollment and I’ll start working on that stuff then.”

“Any off season tournaments?”

“Just the Dapper Dan.”

“What was the draw to the Mountaineers?”

“Relationships. With the coaches of course but also the guys coming in with me. Ty Watters from last year. Shawn [Taylor]. Hoke Hogan.”

“Oh that’s cool you have a good relationship with the other commits too. So what your goals, if it’s specific accomplishments or something more general about success. What do you want to continue to achieve?”

“I have some pretty lofty goals but I’ll just say to get better every day. That’s how I set myself up for success, consistent incremental improvement.”

“Alright so improvement as a wrestler, there’s also growth as a person, off the mat. Rune Lawrence. What’s been your proudest moment?”

“That’s a good question, but I don’t know if I have one to be honest. My expectations for myself are high. I’m just doing what I think I should do.”

“And do you think there’s anything you couldn’t do, or accomplish, whatever you decided to turn your attention to?”

“No. I think if I put my mind to it I can do anything. Except maybe astronaut. That might be the one thing.”

“OK, so no space trips or NASA in your future.”


“Have you thought about your future much though? Like legacy you hope to leave? Will you come back to the area after West Virginia?”

“I have no idea. I think opportunities I haven’t even considered or couldn’t imagine will come around and if something sounds like a good idea I’ll pursue it. That could be here, there, who knows. As for a legacy, I don’t think about it at all. I just go day by day, take care of business and if there’s something there to remember or be remembered for, I can’t control that. I can just do what I need to do in each moment.”

“That’s well said.”

“I have my moments.”

“Well, you have a big one coming up. Hershey for the final time. Won’t wish you luck, as it’s the bracket that needs that. But I’ll say, as a fan of the sport, you’ve been a fun one to watch and I’ll be tuning in next weekend and hope to see you taking that same dominance to Morgantown.”

“Thank you, I appreciate it.”

“Thank you. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.”

“You too, thanks!”

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!