Hence the trip to Coralville. Gunderson, 18, was placed in the junior division, where he faced youngsters between the ages of 17 and 20 – many of whom have previously competed in college.
WRESTLING: Baraboo’s Gunderson Makes Name Nationwide in Freestyle and Greco-Roman Events | Barabo
“John wanted to come in, even though he was ‘young’ in the Junior Division and would be wrestling children – men – who were in their first two years of college,” said Dan Gunderson. “Usually you improve a lot after a few years in college. We knew John probably wouldn’t be a favorite in a single game, but he wanted to give it a try.
“I just didn’t feel any pressure,” John said. “I wanted to win at least one, but I didn’t really know how I would fare against tough college guys and a lot of DI wrestlers. There was a lot going on, a lot of big names… but when I get on the wrestling mat I kind of do what I’ve always done and just had to take out tough games.
Gunderson more than held up from May 1-2. He went 5-2 and took seventh place at 92 kilograms while taking on wrestlers from North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois, Campbell, Cal Poly and North Carolina state, and by pinning the only high school student he faced in 23 seconds.
“It was crazy,” John said. “There were a ton of guys there, and a lot of them were guys that I recognized from seeing on TV. My first game, I’m sure I wasn’t the favorite to win against a guy from Campbell … I was just kind of an unknown high school student, but I won that first game right at the end.