Ryan Deakin: The Pursuit of Perfection

@ryandeakinn: The Pursuit of Perfection #wrestling

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Perhaps the best wrestler going into the 2021 NCAA wrestling season is Northwestwrn’s Ryan Deakin. Before his season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Deakin recorded a perfect 21-0 record. He was named All-American first team despite the tournament not being held.

Being named All-American is nice, but with the tournament being cancelled, it’s almost a hollow victory for Ryan Deakin. But he remains dedicated to seeing the positive from the season and plans to continue on with another amazing season in 2021.

“It was a little bit of mixed emotions about it this year. Not really the way we wanted it to happen, but it was a fun year. I think you take away the positives from the season.”

Ryan Deakin Growing Up In The Sport

Deakin started in wrestling as a kid who played many sports growing up. His parents did their job and found the right sport for their son. Deakin recounts his start in wrestling and trying to fit in like kids do, only to be the odd kid out with the wrong color singlet.

“I played a lot of sports growing up and one day my dad decided I had too much energy and asked me if I wanted to join wrestling. I didn’t know any better. I just kind of was like, ‘Sure.’ I showed up actually halfway through the year. I started wrestling at my youth club and it was I think, late December, early January when I started. I just remember my whole team was wearing blue singlets and I had to go find one but a red singlet at Dick’s was the only thing that left that fit me like that. I was a little outsider on my team for sure.”

Deakin’s love for wrestling wasn’t instant, however. While he enjoyed the sport thoroughly, he also was finding his niche in football, basketball and other sports. It wasn’t until he was almost in high school that Ryan Deakin decided to stick with wrestling as his primary sport.

“I started sports probably at six or seven. I loved wrestling season but played a bunch of different sports. One year I was playing basketball and wrestling at the same time. But I played mostly football, wrestling and lacrosse growing up. Then, I fell in love with wrestling. I’d been wrestling a lot in middle school and stuff, so I just continued in high school.”

College is some of the best times of an athlete’s life. Often times, you will hear a professional athlete fawn over their college days. Deakin will always remember simply having fun in his college wrestling days.

“I like the bus trips with with my teammates. I think we always have a lot of fun on the road traveling and I that’s that’s the best part, all the relationships built along the way. With our coaches and teammates and trainers and all that staff, we have an awesome time every time we’re on the road messing around, goofing around having fun and then taking care of business on the mat when when we need to be serious. So when I look back on this, it’s gonna be the times that last with the teammates and all the all the dumb stuff we’re doing in between when we’re traveling.”

Becoming the Top Dog

Watch Ryan Deakin and Kendall Coleman go at the Big 10 Championships this year.

Early on in the season, Ryan Deakin claimed the number one spot in the country at 157. He defeated Hayden Hidlay with a score of 6-2. While being the best is something that most wrestlers at Deakin’s level strives for, the Northwesterner simply took the season one match at a time and trusted he would get to where he deserved to be: the top.

“Starting the season, you’re just taking it one match at a time and it was cool to share the opportunity with Hidlay. I think I started the season ranked third. I got it right away Hayden, the number one guy at Cliff Keen. I was able to take that spot early on in the season.”

Deakin didn’t let that number one spot get to his head. He kept plugging away at improvements in his game, making sure he was at the pinnacle of performance his game could be. He continually worked at becoming a better wrestler. Deakin has sought out the best talent wrestling has to offer. He purposely went to Northwestern to take on the challenges that the Big 10 has to offer, knowing that this would make him a better wrestler.

“I think wrestling the whole whole year, you’re not really focusing on that you’re just focusing on trying to improve in your game the whole year. It was good to get that through at the beginning of the year. I wrestled a lot of ranked guys throughout the year and with our Big 10 schedule, I think just taking it match by match and really having fun every time I got to step out there was [important] I had a lot of fun this year so I think it was disappointing that it had to end the way it did. But, it was a lot of fun to wrestle most of the ranked guys in my weight throughout the year. Part of the reason I went to Northwestern was to see that big 10 wrestling and be around the best every week to prepare for for tough opponents. I think that kind of stuff really prepares you for for Nationals. It’s disappointing when you don’t get to wrestle at the end of the year. But, we got to wrestle most of the season and a lot of sports didn’t even get to start their season, really, in the spring. So, it was it was a fun year just kind of had a disappointing ending.”

National Champion and Olympian

As mentioned, Deakin wants to be the best. His goal was within reach this year: becoming a national champion. With 2020’s tournament canceled, the goal for 2021 remains the same. But past that, Ryan Deakin plans to work towards his Olympic dream as well.

“I want to win a national title. That was the goal this year and didn’t get that opportunity. I just want to improve my wrestling and I’m looking to compete internationally after. I’ve got some some freestyle goals and stuff, but I‘m just taking it day by day and kind of breaking it down into smaller goals. I’m working on stuff on offense from my feet, new turns on top and and new escapes on bottom and trying to improve a little bit every day.”

His plans were to take part in the Olympic Trials this year. With The Trials being pushed back to 2021, Deakin thinks that it will help a lot of college wrestlers out in the long run. With the extra time, it gives Deakin his time to prepare for freestyle.

“We were planning on wrestling this at the trials this year before everything kind of got canceled with with the Coronavirus stuff. I’m glad that they pushed it out a year instead of just canceling it and making everybody wait for another quad. I think it’s it’s awesome and it plays well for college guys to be able to wrestle all year and peak for nationals and then the trials are two weeks after nationals. That’s what they were planning to do this year. I think it works well training schedule wise. I’m excited to wrestle in freestyle as well. It’s been a lot of fun and wrestling year round is cool. I might change it up and throw some Greco in there, too.”

With a good head on his shoulders, Deakin knows what challenges lie before him making the jump to freestyle wrestling. With his weight class not being a part of the Olympics, he has to move up 4 kilos to compete. That will give him even more time to put on the size he needs not to be at a disadvantage.

“I think that it helps me for sure. I get another year to train and also gives me another year to put on a little bit of weight. The weights are so different for freestyle. I’m on the national team right now at 70 kilos and probably gonna have to go up to 74 kilos for next year. So it’s, I think it’s nice that we get I get that extra year. It’ll help me you know, improve and do more freestyle stuff. Just because all year we’re wrestling focused on now I got a little bit of time to do some freestyle and work on that. Which is always a little bit of a transition. I think especially internationally going from, you know, American soil freestyle to international freestyle stuff.”

Becoming The Best He Can Be

What drives someone to wrestle is accountability according to Ryan Deakin. He says while team sports are grueling as well, the thought of it being you versus another human is intoxicating for him. Having to be prepared is what makes wrestling so attractive to so many kids around the world.

“The individual aspect of it where you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. Some team sports you could be doing everything you can and your team can still lose. You could be preparing really, really well or really poorly and your team could do the opposite of whatever you have been preparing for. With wrestling, it’s a lot more direct. What you put in is what you get out of it. It’s gratifying to be able to go out there with no excuses and step on the line, just strap up, one guy versus another guy.”

Ryan Deakin will assuredly take the 2021 wrestling season by storm. While the tournament this year was canceled, there will be so many vying for a shot next year, making the event that much more exciting. Follow Ryan Deakin on Twitter and Instagram to follow his wrestling journey.