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Missouri wrestlers Dom Bradley, Mike Larson hope to leave with life lessons

Sunday, March 17, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Change.

For some people, it can be a negative. For others, it can be a positive. Some are resistant to it, while others welcome it. For many people change brings with it a degree of uncertainty, and uncertainty can be unsettling.

2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships

WHEN: March 21-23

WHERE: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa



With a little more than a week left in the wrestling season, Missouri seniors Dom Bradley and Mike Larson are on the brink of change.

Bradley and Larson have wrestled for most of their lives. They have lifted countless weights, ran countless miles, and practiced countless hours. 

They gave their time to the sport, and the sport gave back.

It helped pay their tuition and instill in them certain values. Meeting weight requirements developed discipline while the mandatory redshirt year encouraged perseverance. They believe the challenges they’ve faced and the failures they’ve endured affects how they approach other aspects of their lives. Wrestling had a hand in shaping who they are as people.

***

In 2011, Bradley took an Olympic redshirt, sitting out his junior season with Missouri to train for the 2012 summer games. It wasn’t his first experience with international competition. Two years earlier, Bradley came in first at the 2009 Junior World Championships in Ankara, Turkey.   

Bradley fell short at the U.S. Olympic Trials but traveled to London, the site of the 2012 Olympics, as a training partner of trials medalist Tervel Dlagnev. 

Watching Americans Jordan Burroughs and Jake Varner reach their goals of winning gold medals motivated Bradley to pursue his own goal – a career in wrestling after college.

He will have to wait three years — until the next Olympics — to accomplish his biggest goal, but Bradley plans on training and competing in the meantime. This year, the goal is the Wrestling World Championships.

Later, he will consider giving back to the sport that has given him so much.

“I wouldn’t mind coaching,” Bradley said.

***

Larson, who has wrestled in three conferences during his college career, is familiar with change. When California State University-Bakersfield considered eliminating its wrestling program his sophomore year, Larson decided transferring to Missouri gave him the best shot at success.

Two years and a Big 12 Conference title later, Larson is again faced with change, and again must choose a path that will give him the best shot at success. After reading books the last few years and talking to professionals in the field, Larson believes that path includes the U.S. Navy SEALs program.

He believes he is prepared for the challenge.

“We pretty much run a military workout regimen here (at Missouri),” Larson said.

The early mornings, multiple daily workouts, discipline and mental strength that have been part of his life at Missouri will still be part of his life. 

“I think it will translate into instant success in whatever I do,” Larson said.

***

March 23. This date marks the end of the wrestling season and the end of Bradley’s and Larson’s collegiate wrestling careers.

This date marks change.

Bradley and Larson said they are not thinking too far ahead, but both have given thought as to how they will handle their futures.  One wants to be a wrestling lifer while the other eyes a career outside of the sport.

Both plan to apply the lessons they’ve learned through wrestling to whatever their future goals may be.


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