Sophomore wrestler Luke LaVanway might be far from home, but he has made a new one at Waynesburg University. Over five hours from his hometown in Monroe, Michigan, LaVanway enjoys being a member of the wrestling team and spending time with his teammates off the mat.
Even though he’s a solid distance from home, LaVanway doesn’t regret coming to Waynesburg.
“I’m really happy where I’m at right now. I attribute that to the coaching staff. They make it feel like I’m really at home,” LaVanway said. “The team atmosphere too, we hang out outside the room. It’s not like I’m ever thinking about going home. It’s nice to build that team chemistry with all the guys.”
The wrestling program stood out to LaVanway when making his college choice two years ago.
“I was looking for places to wrestle, mainly division three,” LaVanway said. “Programs around Michigan and Ohio compared to Waynesburg aren’t the same. Waynesburg and schools out here had so much more to offer than the programs back around me. I like the area out here a lot. It’s just a nice change for me from back home.”
LaVanway is a criminal justice major and likes the program Waynesburg had to offer. That was another reason why he chose Waynesburg. The criminal justice program was the biggest that stood out at Waynesburg for LaVanway, compared to other programs he was investigating.
“It’s nationally recognized, and there’s a high standard here. It does help you get to a job after you graduate,” LaVanway said. “It’s not just a degree you get and takes you forever to get the job you want. There’s a good job turnout after you graduate from here.”
Head coach Ron Headlee likes what LaVanway brings to the team and how committed he is to the program.
“He never missed practice. He kept wanting to learn,” Headlee said. “He’s a great team wrestler. He’s always just trying to push the other guys even though he wasn’t a starter for us last year.”
Headlee was helpful to LaVanway during the recruiting process.
“I just knew right away that he wanted more for you [than] to just be a good wrestler,” LaVanway said. “He wanted you to be a good person overall. After talking with him, I got that feeling. That was a really big thing for me. He wants you to be a better person overall and not just a better wrestler.”
The wrestling team has practiced already. Headlee has noticed improvements LaVanway has made from last season.
“He’s a lot stronger this year and mature,” Headlee said. “He’s able to finish some of the things that he wasn’t able to last year because he didn’t have the strength, I don’t think to do it.”
LaVanway was in the 184-pound weight class last season, and he was getting beat in it. So, he made improvements in the offseason for how he would train.
“This summer, I got a personal trainer and focused on getting stronger and wrestling to a specific strength,” LaVanway said. “I feel more explosive and more powerful and more physical. The technique I focused on controlling the match over the summer. My top was the one thing that needed the most work. That’s what I focused on was controlling the top.”