ROCK SPRINGS — The Wyoming Cowboys Wrestling team added a familiar face on Tuesday afternoon. Western Wyoming Community College 197 pound wrestler Tucker Tomlinson is that familiar face and will continue his collegiate wrestling career with the Wyoming Cowboys next season.
Tomlinson has been at the top of the National Junior College Athletic Association’s rankings for the 197 pound weight class throughout this season. He currently sits third in the nation among the other 197 pound wrestlers around the country.
The Vernal, Utah native is the second WWCC wrestler this season that has landed a spot on a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I wrestling program. In January, Tomlinson’s friend and teammate Landon Brown signed with the University of Nebraska.
Common interests brought Tomlinson and the Cowboys together. When it comes to the definition of toughness, look no further than Tomlinson himself. From his physical appearance to his style of wrestling, toughness and Tomlinson have been together for quite some time.
“The little thing they (University of Wyoming) always put in their hashtag, ‘Living Cowboy Tough,’ I guess is kind of how I’ve lived my whole life,” Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson said that he was contacted by the Wyoming Cowboys Assistant Director of Player Development McCade Ford. Ford had texted Tomlinson and expressed the Pokes’ interest in him joining their wrestling team. After accepting an invitation to visit Laramie, Tomlinson went and watched the Pokes dual against Fresno State. He also attended a practice and spent the weekend with former WWCC wrestler Cole Verner, who currently wrestles with Wyoming.
“I liked the team and the facilities,” Tomlinson said. “It just felt like when I was in Laramie I was at home.”
Several other Division II and NAIA schools were interested in Tomlinson, but he ultimately made the choice to wear brown and gold.
Leaving a Legacy
Legacies aren’t left by every wrestler at WWCC, but Tomlinson will be one of the elite athletes to have left his mark.
“I’m proud of everything here. I’ve loved my three years here. All the friendships I’ve made with my friends and coaches, I’m definitely going to miss this place for sure. It does grow on you,” Tomlinson said.
Part of Tomlinson’s legacy will not only be what he achieved in the classroom and on the mat, but what he gave of himself to the community. One of his favorite aspects of Western’s program is the community service expectation set by head coach Art Castillo.
At the beginning of the season, the wrestling team helped with a move. What originally was supposed to be an hour job turned into a four hour job. The move turned out to be one of Tomlinson’s favorite service projects from the past three years.
On the mat, Tomlinson’s favorite wrestling memory also comes from this season. During the 2020 Coaches Duals in Miami, Okla., the Mustangs had what Castillo claimed to be “the most dominating performance” he’d ever witnessed. The Mustangs performed well throughout the beginning of the tournament, but fell to Clackamas. Western bounced back to defeat Cloud County Community College 60-0.
“We wrestled really good and then didn’t do so good against another team. But we bounced back and dominated the third ranked team in the nation,” Tomlinson said.
Castillo’s favorite part of coaching is seeing the transformative process of his wrestlers. Tomlinson is another one of Castillo’s success stories.
“He’s really become a tremendous athlete,” Castillo said.
“He’s a great teammate and that’s been proven by how his teammates have voted him captain for two years. The way he treats people and carries people is going to be one of his legacies here,” Castillo said.
A Blessing in Disguise
As the Mustangs prepare for the 2019-20 NJCAA Wrestling Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Tomlinson is eagerly preparing for his opportunity. Last year, he didn’t get the chance to compete at the national tournament due to a cracked sternum which sidelined him for the year. Luckily, due to the timing of his injury, Tomlinson was granted a medical hardship from the NJCAA which granted him another season with the Mustangs.
“Ultimately, I believe it was a blessing in disguise. He’s gotten a lot better, he’s proven and academically he’s further down the road. I think it all happened the way it was supposed to,” said Castillo.
“I feel like as a team and as an individual, we are better prepared than we were last year. We’re ready to go out there and show that we’re the best team in the country,” Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson mentioned that he and the team are polishing up for the postseason. His top priority is to work on staying in the match for all seven minutes. In addition, Castillo and his coaching staff are working on the 197 pound wrestler’s angles.
“We’ve really been working on him getting angles. He’s a big, strong kid that when he catches those angles, he has a very high chance of scoring on anyone,” Castillo said.
The injury which seemed to be a roadblock has seemingly turned into a special opportunity to help the Mustangs win the NJCAA national championship this year.
“I’m super excited, and I know everyone is super excited. We’re just ready to go compete,” Tomlinson said.
“I’m super proud of Tuck,” Castillo said. “We’ll see him a lot and I’ll see him next fall. Perhaps we’ll get a chance to tangle with him.”
“I know he’s going to go down to Wyoming and make an impact on their team and campus community and ultimately he’ll get that degree and go do some great things in life,” Castillo said.