Three-time state champion Calep Balcuns is continuing his wrestling career at the next level.
Balcuns signed a scholarship to attend Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado, earlier this week.
Balcuns finished his prep wrestling career at Brusly in style with his third state championship win after pinning De LaSalle’s Zachary Lalaund in 54 seconds in the 138-pound weight class.
Now he’s moving closer to accomplishing his dream of wrestling at the Division I level.
“It (Northeastern) seemed like the best fit for me,” Balcuns said. “It’s a great introduction into wrestling at the next level.”
He started wrestling in the fourth grade and despite the state championships and other accolades he attained, Balcuns said doubt crept in his mind of how successful he could be early on.
Hard work and perseverance knocked out that doubt.
“When I first started, there were many times I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep up,” he said. “I had to make sure I work as hard as I could to make my dream come true.”
Balcuns hopes to attend the University of Iowa after Northeastern, where he’ll move up to the 141-pound weight class.
“Being a coach, you always want your guys to move on to the level,” said Brusly head wrestling coach Jimmy Bible. It shows that we’re doing the right thing here. Calep wrestled a lot in the kids club, so he knew a lot about the game before he came to me. I can’t say enough about his determination.”
For high school wrestlers in Louisiana, the biggest hurdle to competing at the collegiate level is having the ability to leave the state because Louisiana is one of a handful of states that don’t have collegiate wrestling programs.
Bible said in his 20 years coaching at Brusly, five athletes have gone on to wrestle, but not because of athletic ability, but maybe willingness to be far away from home.
“It’s difficult because of the distance,” Bible said. “If there were more schools in the state who offered opportunities, I think we’d have more guys wrestling. The opportunities are there, it’s just getting them to leave home to pursue those opportunities.”
Balcuns said there were a few matches he wished he could have back and reflected on the bond he developed with his teammates. He thanked his support system for getting to this point.
“I couldn’t have gotten this far without the amazing support of my family, coaches and teammates,” he said.