By Zach Breeding, Co-Editor of Sports
Darren Wynn’s life is one that is heavily influenced by family and friends. And if it wasn’t for his family, he may not have even had the opportunity to achieve the massive success that he has as a wrestler at McKendree.
“My biggest inspiration has to go to my family, they always push me. I’m the oldest cousin and brother, so I have to show the younger people in my family how to take care of business,” said Wynn, a redshirt junior from Champaign, Ill. This backbone, along with his coaches, is also Wynn’s support system. However, it’s not just a helping hand that his family provides. They were also his initial push into wrestling.
Wrestling has been a part of Wynn’s life since the second grade, but this wasn’t by his design. Up until his sophomore year of high school, Wynn wrestled because his mom required him to join an extracurricular. Then, after being convinced by a friend to start taking the sport more seriously, Wynn exploded.
Dominating and winning are two very familiar phrases to Wynn. This was highlighted in his high school career, with 100+ wins over three years, an astounding 45-2 record his senior year and a state runner-up award. This was a tradition of excellence which he hoped to bring to McKendree in the fall of 2013. But the transition would not be without its difficulties.
Of this transition, Wynn said that going from being top dog on the practice mat and the big stage to being bested in all aspects of the sport in college was the hardest part. “You have to be able to bounce back from a loss in competition and [on] the practice mat,” Wynn said. “There aren’t any days off really.” He didn’t let this slow him down however. Wynn took what he had learned from being at the top of the game in high school and used it to drive him forward in the sport at McKendree.
In order to further develop as an athlete and to let a spot open up in the weight class that would have been his best fit, Wynn redshirted his first year on campus. During his redshirt freshman season, he came back hungry and his previous year of training paid dividends. Wynn ended the year with a seventh place finish at NCAA nationals, earning him a spot at No. 3 in the national rankings. He was also honored as an All-American.
Wynn’s redshirt sophomore season, however, was his most successful thus far. He consistently won competitions, finished the season with the second best record on the team and culminated the year by delivering McKendree’s first men’s wrestling national title. Wynn dominated his competition in the final matches at the national championship. He exited the semifinals with a decisive 10-3 victory and managed to shut his opponent down in the finals to win 12-8.
Wynn is currently ranked second according to Intermatwrestle.com. Using his indomitable spirit and family support system, he and the rest of the wrestling team travel to Moorhead, Minnesota in two weeks to punch their tickets to Nationals where repeat success is the goal.