Former Buffalo to wrestle Down Under
Dale Conner will be taking his wrestling talents to a beach far further south than Miami this summer.
The Floyd County senior will travel into the Southern Hemisphere July 3 to represent the United States at the 24th annual Down Under Sports Tournament in Sydney, Australia.
Conner will be one of nearly 1,000 high school athletes from the U.S. to compete and one of 90 U.S. wrestlers in the competition. He said the trip was “a once in a lifetime opportunity,” and one that until his mother checked the mail two weeks ago, he didn’t even know if it was a possibility.
“She called me and said I got a letter,” Conner said. “She said it was good news and that I needed to come home as quick as I could.”
The letter explained he had been invited to represent Virginia and the U.S. in the international competition based on his high school wrestling career and gave him advice on ways he could raise the near $5,000 for the trip costs.
Down Under Sports program director Job Cyril said the selection process for the U.S. wrestling team was conducted by a group coaches which included coach Scot Davis who has a national record of 986 dual meet coaching victories at the high school level.
Cyril said the group chose Conner based on his career statistics, which are highlighted by his third-place finish in this year’s VHSL Group A state finals and a 2011 state title, which Conner said was his proudest wrestling achievement.
That might change after this summer as wrestler who admitted he previously had no plans for post high school competition said the idea of winning at the international level was a little hard to wrap his mind around.
“I can’t even think about it right now,” Conner said. “I’d have to wait after it happened and see how I felt after it sank.”
Conner’s former coach Mike Murphy said he had no doubt the wrestler he’d coached for five years at Floyd County High School would represent his hometown well on the international stage. He credited Conner’s intelligence and work ethic as leading to his success on the mat.
“He’s one of those guys that, win or lose, is going to sit back and analyze the match. If you beat him on one move, you’re not going to beat him on that move again,” Murphy said.
The two-week venture will allow Conner to display his talents on the mat, though he said he is most excited about taking his talents to the beach on the first day when their matches will be held in the sand.
While the trip is a great opportunity for post-graduate wrestling, perhaps more importantly it will give Conner an opportunity to travel to a long-desired destination.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, it seems like a pretty neat place. I guess I’ll find out,” Conner said.
In order to make the trip, Conner will need to raise close to $5,000 dollars before June 1, however Cyril said Down Under Sports would match 25 percent of any donations Conner receives prior to May 26.
For more information about how you can help Conner reach his goal, call his mother Robin Conner at 540-521-9642 or 540-651-3403.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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