Living the Lifestyle with Dalton
4X All State & former DI wrestler starts new column on illinoismatmen for 2012 season
Hello Illinois wrestling community!
My name is Dalton Bullard and I am currently a student-athlete at Elmhurst College. I wrestle for Steve Marianetti, an NCAA Champion and former USA World Team Member from the University of Illinois. I am an Exercise Science major with a focus in Strength and Conditioning.
I graduated in 2006 from Belvidere High School. Under the coaching of current head coach, Mr. Dan McNames, I had a fairly successful career. During my high school career, I compiled a 170-12-career record with 100 pins and was a 4-time IHSA All-State wrestler.
At the completion of my high school career, I signed to wrestle for Mark Johnson and the University of Illinois. During my freshman year, I had developed many personal and academic issues, which eventually led to my withdrawal from school. During this period in my life, I was struggling with my decision to quit school and wrestling. However I maintained communication with Coach Johnson. Later that year I worked with him to eventually get myself back in class and on the team. It was during my second year that I regained my focus on my goals athletically while also trying to learn from my mistakes. That second year was one of the greatest years developmentally for myself because I was able to train daily with former Illini wrestler, Gabe Flores. He was by far one of the best wrestlers technically that I ever had a chance to battle with on a daily basis.
In my third year at Illinois, I was looking forward to making the starting line-up. This was B.J. Futrellís true freshman year and eventual entrance into our teamís starting line-up. While everyone knows how talented B.J. is, I myself struggled with this mentally. I would be the first to admit that I made some extremely immature decisions, which led to me transferring to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
It was through my relationship with former All-American Steve Dwyer that made this decision possible. Even though my time as a Husker was short lived, I had the opportunity to learn from a great coaching staff led by Head Coach Mark Manning. While all the coaches taught me a lot of new things, specifically I got to work with current University of Missouri Assistant Jason Mester. For those who donít have the luxury of knowing or working with Mester, he is the definition of a student of the sport. The way he looks at wrestling is like no other person I ever had the chance to be around.
Following my time at Nebraska, I returned home to begin my high school coaching career and work to finish my education close to home. Getting a tremendous opportunity from Hall of Fame coach Marty Kieser, I became a coach for both the Hononegah High School as well as the Indians youth program. The experience of coaching along side current Head Coach Justin Wieman, as well as working with Coach Kieser and the youth program, became a great learning experience. I had the chance to work with all age groups and ability levels while also learning what a true wrestling community is. The Hononegah Wrestling Club is a true wrestling family and they took me in as one of their own from the very beginning. It was here that I really began my coaching career.
I began getting more involved with the IKWF/ILUSAW Organization with the help of Gene Lee, Mike Urwin, Jim Considine, Chauncey Carrick, and Don Reynolds. These individuals have been great mentors and I am very grateful to get to work with them on a yearly basis. With my daily involvement in the Hononegah organization, I was intrigued by our freestyle developmental program and wanted to become more involved. I looked at this as an opportunity to learn from a tremendous group of coaches as well as have the chance to work with the best wrestlers in our state.
Now as a young man with no college degree, surrounded by individuals with a lot of knowledge, many advised me to finish my degree. That was the push I needed. I started looking at schools to finish up my education. I began thinking about the possibility of still competing. With my NCAA Division 1 eligibility up, my remaining wrestling opportunities were limited to Div. 2 and Div. 3. While on staff for the Freestyle National Team I got to know Steve Marianetti as well as getting a chance to see him work as a coach. It wasnít long after that experience that I considered the possibility of wrestling for him. I soon made the decision that I would finish up my education at Elmhurst College. My decision was a no brainer, since in my opinion, he is one of the best coaches on the collegiate level, he gives me the best opportunity to continue learning in the sport and to finish my career as a national champion. So now I am at Elmhurst, my new journey begins.
So you may wonder why am I writing a continuing blog on Illinois Matmen? Some people might remember a post made last season after the NCAA tournament in regards to a friend of mine not winning a national title. This wrestler was Jimmy Kennedy and the comment/discussion was that the coaching staff was the reason for his defeat. I responded to this comment because I thought it was very irresponsible as a wrestling community to place blame on individuals, that I for one know personally worked extremely hard daily to make everyone in that wrestling room champions. Upon my response, illinoismatmen.com staff contacted me about the idea of maybe developing a series of blogs this season. I was reluctant at first but after a summer to think about my opinions and experiences in the sport, I see it as an opportunity to help many that might have gone through or are currently going through similar situations. In addition, I see this as an opportunity to stay involved in a wrestling community that I believe to be the best in the country.
The Illinois wrestling community is, in my view, the strongest group of wrestling fans and supporters in the world. Everyone is very passionate about their respective high school and club programs and rightly so. We continually flood the national tournaments with our stateís talent and have continued to increase our numbers of participation every year. For that, I am extremely grateful to not only be a part of that progress but also to have seen this progression as a wrestler, coach, and fan of the sport.
Through this blog I plan to discuss my experiences in the sport as well as anything that people might want me to discuss or give my opinion on. My career has been less than ideal, however, I wouldnít change anything. For my experiences have built relationships and made me who I am today, and for that I no regrets.
You can contact me by email or follow me on twitter.
Last edited by admin; 11-25-2011 at 10:15 PM.