Ryan Renon: the championship lifestyle


National qualifier Ryan Renon.

Brandon Rooker, Staff Reporter

Ryan Renon was not successful in his 2012 campaign, if winning a national championship is the only qualification one has for a successful season.

But for his coaches, teammates, and friends, there is more than just a “championship/no championship” grading scale on Renon’s success.

If one reads beyond the ultimate prize and into his statistics this season (32 victories for the second time in his career, eleventh Lakeland College wrestler to qualify for nationals ever) and into the effect Renon had on the program, his teammates, and his coaches, you will find a respected competitor, a beloved teammate, and an individual passionate for life and wrestling. Renon may not have a medal or a trophy to display proclaiming him a national champion, but to his coaches, teammates, and friends, he is a champion all the same.

“Ryan is the cornerstone of our team,” Wrestling Coach Mike DeRoehn said. “His leadership, positive example and contagious ‘on the attack’ attitude has elevated the expectations of what the Lakeland wrestling program is all about.”

“He is one of our team captains because he leads by example,” Tommy Phalin, Renon’s teammate and friend, said. “As a leader, he is quiet because his actions speak for him. He lives the proper lifestyle to be successful in wrestling.

“Ryan is one of my best friends. He is genuine and is nice to everyone,” Phalin said. “I cannot say enough about how good of a friend he is to me. He’s always there for me no matter the distance. He fully supports your ideas, even if he doesn’t agree with them, as long as it makes you happy. Yet he is also not afraid to give his two cents on the topic. I honestly could talk about how great of a friend Ryan is for hours.”

Perhaps most of these “moral victory” articles that have been written have had to cover someone with less talent. Perhaps the truth is bent and the opinions altered to turn a second-rate athlete into a first-rate stallion. For Renon, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Renon is a great wrestler, and an even better teammate and person, thus making this article possible.

With a 32-6 season record, Renon tied his own mark for eighth all time in Lakeland College history for victories in a season. He dominated opponents on his path to the national tournament, a high honor in any sport.

“We believe ‘you only deserve what you earn,’” said DeRoehn. “[Renon] earned every accolade he received through a commitment to a championship lifestyle.  I feel honored to be called his coach.”

“I take advantage of every opportunity to get better,” Renon said. “Get in any extra workouts I can, look out for anything that’s going on, and just be a champion.”

“He sets the pace for everyone around him,” Phalin said. “I always like to say I’m going to be the second hardest worker in the (wrestling) room because I know Renon will not be outworked by his peers.“

Though his work ethic, even in his own words is “matched by few others,” Renon will be the first to tell you that he has not become the star he is alone.

“My coaches have been there from day one. They saw something in me and kept on pushing me, and I like being pushed. I focus on just working as hard as I can, whenever I can and when that opportunity arises, whether it’s in the weight room or in the wrestling room, just never letting up and keep on pushing the pace.”

Renon is also in the National Guard. This means he will not be able to compete for the wrestling team next season. He does, however, have one more year of eligibility left under his belt, a year he plans to exercise in the 2014-2015 season.

“[My experience in the National Guard is] all positive,” Renon said. “Without it I don’t think I’d be the person I am today. With all the training I went through, it made me more mentally tough, just made me realize that whatever is going on here, is not so bad. I’ve been through worse. I feel like I’m a good person on the mat and off the mat. I feel like it has instilled values in me that will make me successful on the mat and when I graduate from here.”

The National Guard predicament will put Renon in an odd situation. Though he misses the chance to wrestle for three seasons, he has an opportunity that few have ever had: To one-day return to the mat and reclaim his throne as a wrestling king.

“Right now my lasting memory [of nationals] is of my match before becoming an All-American. I lost it and just me sitting on that mat afterwards… it stunk,” Renon said. “[Getting back to nationals and winning a national championship] is what motivates me.”