Matt Dunn, the head wrestling coach at Elkin High School, accomplished something that he had not done in 13 years. He competed in and placed in a high level national wrestling tournament.
The U.S. Open in Las Vegas drew international talent and served as a qualifier for World Team membership in certain divisions. Dunn’s fourth-place finish established his claim to an alternate’s position on the World Masters Team.
When asked what motivated him to train and compete for 12 months, during which time he lost about 50 pounds, Dunn responded in a fashion that is unusual to those who know him for his private and reserved nature.
“I have been haunted by goals not achieved or titles that I lost due to injuries and that would keep me awake at night,” said Dunn. “I think that I wrestled this tournament with the hopes of killing these unfulfilled ambitions and desires. Ironically this competition ignited my passion more than ever. I plan to continue my training and to wrestle in other national events in order to make the World Team as a competitor.”
After suffering an ankle injury, Dunn dropped his first match to the number-two seed in the tournament. He came back in the consolation bracket with three straight wins to claim fourth place and a spot on the podium.
“I wouldn’t have said this a year ago, but I am so thankful to God just for the opportunity to go,” Dunn continued. “In training for this I have renewed my faith and my passion. I always teach my wrestlers that the joy is the journey. I truly believe that the gains of the grind have far outweighed the rewards of the tournament.”
Maybe next year Dunn’s journey will yield greater challenges and rewards as he grapples with the opportunities that life presents to him.