At first, Soroco High School senior Lauryn Bruggink said it was about unfinished business.
She said the decision she made official Friday actually was reached more than a year ago, when she fell a win short of qualifying for the state wrestling tournament during her junior year.
“That’s when I knew I was going to wrestle in college,” she said.
In the end, however, the deciding factor was the same one that drove her to be a pioneer for girls wrestling in Colorado.
With a gleam in her eye and a hall full of applauding friends, she put pen to paper Friday at Soroco High School, signing on to accept a scholarship to wrestle for Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas.
It’s a commitment to four more years of work, weigh-ins and tough matches, and there was one overarching reason Bruggink did it.
“I just love the sport,” she said.
Once that injury-riddled and disappointingly truncated junior year helped her to decide to wrestle beyond high school, Bruggink set out to apply to all of the schools that offered women’s wrestling. After eliminating one because it didn’t offer her planned pre-med focus and two for being in Canada, Wayland Baptist won her heart. That first happened on a visit last fall, and her decision was reinforced with a weeklong stay at the school and with its women’s wrestling team during Soroco’s winter break.
“Everything seemed to fit and be perfect,” said Bruggink, who as a sophomore became the first girl to win a match at Colorado’s state high school tournament.
She’s spent four years beating the boys, making state three times and winning a total of three matches there.
“The girls were goofy. They were fun,” she said about her future teammates. “It’s exciting for me to be a part of a team like that. Don’t get me wrong — I love my boys at Soroco, but it will be fun to have a little more in common with my teammates.”
Plainview isn’t large, but it’s bigger than Oak Creek. With the Texas cities of Amarillo and Lubbock about an hour away, Bruggink said it’s big enough. And she said the people remind her of home.
Just as she didn’t envision her wrestling career ending in high school, Bruggink doesn’t exactly see it ending at Wayland Baptist, either.
She spoke Friday about dreams of making a U.S. Olympic team. The top two finishers at the national championships from each weight class are invited to the team trials.
But her view of the sport she loves extends even beyond that.
“It’d be really cool to end up coaching some day,” she said.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com