Lance Runyon, Best of the Best Question & Answer

By Joshua Swafford for The Predicament

Getting to Know 3A Captain, Lance Runyon

* When did you start wrestling? Who introduced you to the sport?

I was six when I started wrestling in the living room on the floor with my dad.

* Do you have any family who wrestled before you? How did they do?

Um, not too many honestly but obviously my dad and Uncle Dick, which neither were very high level wrestlers. I have three cousins that were very good at wrestling under the Davis name. Troy, Cory, and Chris. Troy was a state placer, Cory was a state champ and they both wrestled at BVU. Chris was a coach at Wapsie Valley for many years before retiring and being introduced to the National Coaches Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Ok.

* Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?

I would say I caught on pretty quickly considering I placed 4th as a kindergartener at SuperPeeWee, then went on to win two titles in 1st and 2nd grade. In 2nd grade I also bumped up to 3rd and 4th at AAU and got 4th losing to one of the West twins.

* What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?

High Altitude Wrestling Club was the club where I got started which developed me into a pretty good wrestler. I learned a bunch of awesome technique and was around a crap ton of stud for many years. People like Jake Marlin, Cash Wilke, the Walker twins, Colton McCrystal, Travis Taylor as well as many others. It was great being around all those high-level guys as well as learning from them and Chad. Chad is a great guy and a great coach and I wouldn’t be where I am at without him and his club.

* What are a couple memorable moments from youth wrestling?

One of my favorite memories was at Liberty Nationals my first year at 6U. I could tell my dad was nervous, and never told me I drew the one seed first round. It was Colton Yapujian and I went out and hammered him in the first, he took down in the second and I pinned him in a 2 on 1 tilt! Lol it was awesome! I ended up winning the tournament facing numerous other studs and winning Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

I have a lot of memories with Team Iowa but going and wrestling in Columbus, Ohio at the OSU indoor practice field was super fun. This tournament was a great experience and I received the All-American honor. I specifically remember Mark Perry talking to my dad about coaching me one match over there. Previously I had done camps with him at High Altitude and had dinner with him a couple times! It was a good memory for sure!

* Who were your wrestling heroes growing up?

Mark Perry
David Taylor
John Smith

* You may have the most unstoppable cross face cradle that Iowa high school wrestling has ever seen. Who taught you that?

I think I learned a lot of variations in the past so I added them all up and made my own version. I watched David Taylor pin a lot of people in cradles as well as Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal. I learned some from Chad, some from Manny, then some more from SEP coaches.

* Was there ever a point in your career where you noticed yourself jumping levels and making huge strides?

I would say not until I all-American’d at Fargo two years ago. I knew I was good but I never had the confidence or swagger to be on that next level. I also feel like It took me longer to figure out my style and what I was good at so I could focus on those areas in particular.

* Your parents have always been so supportive of you. How great was it to make them so happy this year when they witnessed their son achieving his dream?

It was truly a dream come true. All the time, money, and traveling finally paid off. The first thing that came to my mind was “it isn’t over tho” meaning I still have a lot of goals and dreams to attain. I want to continue to make my family and support system happy as well as myself!

* What should we expect from your brother, Tank?  Were you proud of him for qualifying for state this year?  Are you your brother’s biggest fan/supporter?

Well, Tank is coming I’ll just say that. He’s getting bigger, faster, stronger, and better everyday. I was so proud of him and his performance this year even though I know he could’ve done even better. The older brother/teammate definitely came out of me in multiple dual meets and tournaments. I love watching him wrestle, he is a entertaining 220 that’s for sure! I’ll place my bets on him being 3A 220lb State Champ for the next two years.

* Who were some of your toughest competitors to this point?

At this point there are so many tough guys out there. My closest matchup this season was with Baylor Fernandez, I’d say he’s a pretty good competitor. Last summer I wrestled guys like Jace Luchau and Sonny Santiago. Josh Otto is also a great competitor! I’ve wrestled some of the toughest guys in the country! They are all good!

* What are your wrestling goals now that you are moving on from high school?

Well, the obvious answer of being a 4x national champ, but in reality I want to keep improving my game and skill. I want to set school records at UNI and I want to be a leader on the team. I want to show the country what UNI wrestling is all about along with my fellow teammates. I truly believe the sky is the limit for our team, and we can reach the goals we are setting. Eventually I would like to be the #1 wrestler in the World! Why not aim big, so that means World and Olympic Champ.

* What other sports do you play and how have you done at them?

I currently only wrestle but I used to play on a USSSA team for baseball until I quit to start focusing on FRECO season. I was a lefty pitcher and an outfielder so I was decent. I played football up until my junior year of high school which I thought I could’ve been pretty good at if that was the primary sport I was focusing on. I played safety and running back.

* What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling?

I like to play bags, long board, fish, listen to music, hangout with friends, play video games, and eat ice cream.

* What is your favorite high school wrestling memory?

My favorite high school memory would be winning a state title, but besides that it would be traveling with my team to Cheesehead. That tournament is so tough and fun. I love that it is two days and we always bring down games to play like spike-ball. I like just being away with my team doing the sport we all love!

* What is some of the best advice you ever received?

I would say the advice that really opened my eyes was to be successful and jump levels in wrestling you really have to love the sport and dedicate yourself to it. Doing something everyday to get better. The constant thought that someone is always doing more or working harder or whatever it may be. That is how you achieve your goals.

* Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers?

I would just say have fun with wrestling and enjoy it. It’s a long hard journey but if you stay the course, trust yourself and your coaches then you will eventually get the results you want. Always be coachable and pay attention to small details. Also, it’s always fun to come up with your own moves or add your own twist on some.

* Who were some of the most influential coaches you worked with at the youth and high school level?

Chad Tunink is a big one because he has coached me since such a young age and we used to travel together to big tournaments like Tulsa, Liberty, etc. Just being around him and believing in his philosophies and what he was saying. Also, being around the guys that he produced and brought in for camps took me a long way. Another coach that was very influential for me was Jake Agnitsch. He has been there for me as a friend, coach, and mentor for many years now. He has always pushed me and helped develop my skills and critique the small things in my arsenal of attacks. I think with his help of focusing on the details and paying more attention to the things I do well made me jump levels as well. Jake always has believed in me and pushed me to not only be a better wrestler but also a better person. He is truly an awesome person and a great coach. I think everyone at SEP and anyone that has ever learned from him would say the same. He is always trying to boost his wrestling mind so he can teach us new things.

I would say my Dad was a huge coach of mine when I was little too. I mean we bumped heads at times but that’s only because he was my dad. He always knew what the answer was and he always knew what was best for me. Without his dedication to me when I was little taking me to camps, practice, tournaments, dual tournaments.. I wouldn’t be where I am at today. We started on the living room floor and now it’s my turn to finish it. There are so many great coaches that have influenced me in some way.. just to name a few Jason Christenson, Jessman Smith, Mark Reiland, Tj Sebolt.. the list goes on and on. I am so thankful for all these people that have invested in me and believed in me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

* Now that UNI had a national champ this year, how motivated are you to keeping the Panther Train going and accumulating more national champs?

It was awesome for Drew Foster to get the Schwab era rolling. I honestly think you will see at least one more next year and many more to come in the next couple. I am very excited and I know the guys on the team are too.

* Some names who have been named Best of the Best Captain in the past include; Brody Teske, Alex Thomsen, Carter Happel, Max Thomsen, Brandon Sorenson, John Meeks, Jake Marlin, Dan Leclere, Jesse Sundell, Josh Watts, Mack Reiter, CJ Ettelson, Jay Borschel, Bart Reiter, TJ Sebolt, etc.  How much of an honor do you consider it to be included with those names as The Predicament’s Best of the Best 3A Captain?

It is an awesome honor to be included with these high-level names and some of the guys I even looked up to when I was growing up. It was an awesome and very fun season, and I am so glad I get to add to it by receiving this honor. I appreciate all the hard work you guys at The Predicament do for our sport. It was a fun four years taking interviews and reading the content. I am very excited for my future at UNI.