Heavyweight Clayton Burtis was named All-American at the NAIA Wrestling Championships earlier this month in Topeka, Kan. Burtis, a graduate of Colton High School, is in his junior year wrestling for Southern Oregon University, in Ashland, Ore. Burtis placed eighth at the championship, and the SOU team took fourth.
Being named All-American felt pretty good, Burtis said.
Day one of the championship, Burtis opened with a loss, which meant he had to win his next three matches to stay in the tournament. He won them all, despite being smaller than some of his opponents.
The second day I was pretty sore, he said, which affected his performance. Burtis took an overtime win against Morningside's Tyler Kacmarynski, securing his All-American honor. He went on to lose his last two matches. He finished his season 19-5.
This year, Burtis shifted from 197 pounds to heavyweight, a division which allows wrestlers to weigh up to 285 pounds. The heavyweight division is an incredibly difficult division to wrestle in. For someone who could trim down to 197, moving up meant he was on the smaller side of heavyweight.
Hes a little undersized, SOU wrestling coach Mike Ritchey said, and heavyweight matches are one-mistake matches.
However, Burtis is a technically sound wrestler, Ritchey said. He simply has to overcome the heavyweight size. Hes never going to be a huge heavyweight, but his athleticism will be to his advantage, as hes faster than many of his opponents.
Hes one of those hard-working young men, Ritchey said. Hes pretty humble. He comes to the table unassuming, but hes a pretty talented athlete, and he proved that [in Kansas].
Burtis returns to the mats next year. Hell wrestle as a senior for SOU, where hes currently studying physics. He said his classes are interesting but tough. Burtis hopes to eventually get into engineering. SOU didnt have the program he wanted, but he decided to go there anyway, as he wanted to wrestler for the Raiders.
After his senior year as a Raider, he intends to move closer to Colton, where his family still lives.
He said he enjoyed growing up in Colton. I like living in the country. And he would like to return to Colton High School to help as a coach someday.
He knows Coltons mats well, and what it takes to win at the high school level. While attending Colton High School, Burtis climbed in position at state three years running.
In 2008, as a sophomore at Colton High School, Burtis took third place at state. The following year he fought to second place. In 2010, as a senior Viking, Burtis took first at state.
Burtis was unable to wrestle as a high school freshman due a knee injury, which still gives him a little trouble, he said, but should last one more year.
He encourages any athletes who want to continue their careers after high school to actively pursue that goal. Fill out recruitment forms, he said. Talk to coaches. Burtis gives a lot of thanks to his coaches for helping him get to where he is nowan All-American athlete.