Senior Spotlight: Caleb La Londe, Mediapolis

By Joshua Swafford for The Predicament

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

I started wrestling when I was five. my dad introduced me to the sport. He took me to one of my brother’s practices to watch, and I started the very second practice; I knew I loved it.

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

Yes, my dad wrestled in Ohio and he took 3rd, just a point away from beating the state champ. My grandpa wrestled as well.

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

I started catching on very quickly, and I qualified for a lot of big events as a young wrestler. However, because I was born into a military family, we moved to a few places that slowed the process. Instead of wrestling, I was involved in years of Judo practices and competitions.

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

I would like to say DC Elite for my high school years, but I grew up wrestling at a lot of different clubs throughout our moves to other states.

What are a couple memorable moments from youth wrestling?

I remember qualifying and winning a few matches at state in Ohio when I was in kindergarten. I also remember almost teching the state champ in Las Vegas in 8th grade, and then he came back to beat me by a point.

Who were your wrestling heroes growing up?

Definitely my dad for one. When I was younger it was probably Jeff Jordan, but eventually I started really looking up to Jordan Burroughs, David Taylor, Nick Suriano, and even Bryce Meredith.

How did you finish at state tournaments in youth?

I only got a couple opportunities to wrestle youth state tournaments. I think I qualified twice and a few matches each time.

How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the HS level?

I finished high school as a 2x State Qualifier.

How much of a confidence booster was it when you placed at Preseason Nationals this year?

It was huge, I beat multiple state qualifiers, state placers, and state champions. I lost a close one to someone who almost made it on the Cadet World Team (5-2). So it was definitely a big confidence boost after I took 7th at Pre-Season Nationals. And it’s crazy the amount of improvements I’ve made since.

You started out wrestling in Nevada... How much of a transition was it going from Nevada to Iowa? How much different was the competition?

The competition is obviously a lot stiffer in Iowa. There are some great wrestlers and buzz saws in Nevada. I had to adjust to the competition in high school in Iowa, and I was able to do that and more.

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

Yes, as soon as I started hitting up club practices and I found wrestling to be my passion I began making huge jumps; all it takes is persistence. The values I learn through my experience as a wrestler propel me to keep moving forward as a student of this phenomenal sport.

Who were some of your toughest competitors in HS?

I’ve never had any really big rivals, but a few tough competitors I banged heads with in Iowa were Carson Tenold, Caleb Swalla, Jo Kelly, and Baylor Crigger.

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

I want to continue my wrestling career at Coe College a be a multi- National Champion, and there’s so much opportunity to do so. After that, I aspire to wrestle on the USA world team and win gold in the worlds/ Olympic scene.

How would you describe your wrestling style? Who would you compare yourself to?

I have a very universal style of wrestling. I wrestle clean, technically, and to always be in the best position, while relentlessly setting up my opponents. I like to compare my style a bit to Nick Suriano.

Do you have any regrets from wrestling or did you leave it all out there?

I left it all out there, albeit the adversities is what got me during the season this year. Some things you can’t control, but find something you can do and work your best at it. Everything happens for a reason, and I’m excited for the opportunities to show why.

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

I used to play football, and I did very well. As my passion for wrestling grew, I decided to solely focus on it; I’ll do this knowledge-filled and humbling sport for the rest of my life.

What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling?

I like to go to the gym and train, mostly for my wrestling, but it’s still a hobby. I like to swim, ride my bike, and just about any other outdoor activity.

What is your favorite HS wrestling memory?

During the HS season, my best memory is probably winning the conference title, but not because I won it. I had so much adversity during that time it molded me into a better wrestler now, even if I were to take state. It taught me values, technicality, and passion I could only learn through experience.

What is some of the best advice you ever received?

Consistency is the key to success. That’s what Jordan Burroughs preaches all the time, I want to be the most experienced and the hardest worker as a wrestler and student.

Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers?

Be persistent in developing your skills; endlessly strive to grow your experience in whatever your passion may be. But most importantly be positive, be a student, look to always improve, and have fun!

Who were some of the most influential coaches you worked with?

I’ve really liked most of my coaches. However the three that sticks out the most are Coach Ryan Phillips, Coach Rob Rhum, and my dad.

What are your college plans? Is wrestling in your future whether it be competing or coaching?

I plan to either go a business or law route in college, however I’m still unsure. But yes, I plan to compete for years still after college to through the highest levels of the international stage, and then I plan to coach a club team or a college team.

What is the future outlook for Mepo wrestling?

Although wrestling is a bit light at Mepo as of now, there are a lot of great younger kids getting ready to fill the program again. The coaching staff is what makes Mepo have such a great program. GO BULLDOGS!!