Marian Central senior Bryce Shelton was thrilled recently when he committed to Iowa State to wrestle on an athletic scholarship for Cyclones coach Kevin Dresser.
Shelton had communicated frequently with Dresser during the recruitment process and the two had built a good relationship.
But one day after committing to Iowa State, Shelton received news from the one school that could make him change his mind. He learned of his appointment to the Air Force Academy.
Shelton talked to his family and knew he had to chase his dream. He decommitted to Iowa State and committed to the Air Force.
“Last week was craziness,” Shelton said. “I committed and a day later I got appointed to the Air Force Academy, which is what I’ve wanted to do for a really long time. I had to call coach Dresser. He understood that I wanted to serve my country and everything. He was very understanding. I had to call the Air Force coach (Sam Barber) back and let him know that’s where I was going.”
Shelton took fourth in the Class 2A State Tournament last year at 138 pounds, finishing with a 42-4 record. His older brother Chance wrestled at Harvard and then for two years at Iowa.
For Shelton, who started with the Crystal Lake Wizards Wrestling Club around age 5 or 6, college wrestling was his destiny.
“That’s how I grew up around wrestling,” he said. “My whole life I always wanted to do that. I like the opportunity to serve my country and get a great education. Of course, I get to wrestle when I go there.”
Shelton leaned on Marian Central graduates, Thor Paglialong and Jayden Thiergood, both of whom are playing football at Air Force, for information about the academy.
“I talked to Thor a lot about it and he said if I had the chance to come there, he loves it there,” Shelton said. “Thor helped me out a lot answering questions.”
Paglialong wrestled as the Hurricanes heavyweight when Shelton was a freshman and sophomore. Shelton plans on majoring in engineering at the Air Force.
“It was tough telling coach Dresser because he’s been with me, texting me and everything, for a long time,” Shelton said. “He’s a really good guy. It wasn’t an easy thing to to, but he understood why I was doing it. He was really nice about it and I respect him for that.”