by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Kyler Swanson’s next win will make him the all-time leader for Rogers wrestling. The 145-pound senior became just the second Royal to notch 100 wins when he pinned a Spectrum rival at home Dec. 20. He’s added four more, tying the school record of 104 held by Todd Klemz since 2008.
A six-year starter and two-year captain, Swanson takes those milestones in stride. Asked about career highlights, he said friendships are most important.
“I wouldn’t say this win or that win. The best part is wrestling with a team, and getting to know your teammates. Guys I wrestle with, now and in the past, so many of them are really good friends.”
Swanson broke into the Royals lineup in seventh grade at 103 pounds. He’s been a good, not outstanding, wrestler, with about 80 losses alongside his 104 wins. He was 23-18 as a soph but made state by finishing second in his section at 140 pounds. Last year he was 27-13 and placed third in his section after Rogers moved up to Class 3A.
This year he’s 16-4 with seven pins, and one loss was an injury default.
“Kyler is good at all three parts of wrestling: on top, on the bottom and neutral, on your feet,” assessed Chris Donnay, the Royals coach the past two seasons. “He works very hard. He is a leader by example. He’s been a captain for two years, which says a lot.”
The 5-foot-7 Swanson is especially adept at “switching” (while on the bottom, grabbing a leg and whirling to the top position) and the high crotch to double leg takedown. He’s most self-critical about his riding. “I need to work on turning people. For someone who’s wrestled six years, I should have a lot more pins.”
Swanson started wrestling in second grade. He found a fine role model and mentor in Victor Martinez, two-time state champion at Osseo who was running the Rogers youth program. “He’s still one of my favorite coaches. He’s in the room a lot,” said Swanson, now a teammate of Victor’s son Cruz.
Swanson played football and baseball a while but “fell in love with wrestling” by sixth grade and made it his lone sport. “In wrestling, you’re part of a team, but you also wrestle for yourself. If you lose there’s no one else to blame.”
Between seasons he joins the High Flyers of St. Michael, where current Gophers help coach.
Away from wrestling, Swanson says his favorite pursuit is “one you might think is a little strange.” He’s a big fan of farm tractors, especially John Deere. His room is filled with miniature tractors. Swanson and his grandfather, a farmer near Princeton, bought a 1941 John Deere and broke it down and rebuilt it, with hope of entering tractor pulls eventually. He’d like to visit the factory in Moline, Ill., at some point.
In his final prep season, his 16-4 start is encouraging, especially since he’s just a couple of pounds from dropping to 138. “This is it, my last year, and I’m going to do the best I possibly can,” said Swanson, whose goals are to make all-conference, place at state and “just get as many wins as I can.”
THE SWANSON SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents, Jeff and Kim; siblings, Brendon and Nina … Sport: wrestling … Academics: B average … Next year: undecided; possibly tech school for diesel mechanics
Favorite stuff — Class: careers in coaching … TV show: “Family Guy” … Movie: “The Green Mile” … Food: prime rib … Drink: Mt. Dew … Book: “Four Days to Glory” about the Iowa state wrestling tournament …. Athlete: Dan Gable … Music: Metallica, Johnny Cash