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Wrestler books ticket out
Lindhurst's Austin Oliver gets full ride to Iowa university
Austin Oliver stood quietly outside the entrance to the Lindhurst High gymnasium while holding his future by his thumbs and index fingers.
Pinched between his hands was a goldenrod piece of paper with the logo of William Penn University on the top and a blank line for the 17-year-old wrestler's signature on the bottom. Oliver, a two-time state qualifier for the Blazers, was about to be the first wrestler in school history to accept a full-ride scholarship to a four-year university.
"It's going to be life-changing," he said. "This is where all of my hard work has paid off."
The Lindhurst senior signed the letter of intent to wrestle for William Penn in a ceremony on Tuesday that was attended by family, faculty and a large contingent of fellow student athletes who came to cheer on one of their top-performing peers.
During his time in a Blazer-red singlet, Oliver was the first ever Lindhurst wrestler to qualify for the state tournament and compiled a 150-29 record to set the school's career and single-season records for wins.
This season, the 145-pounder went 43-5 — all five losses were to state medalists — and was named the Appeal-Democrat's All-Area middleweight wrestler of the year.
"When I got here, I started keeping records and right now I think he is at the top of every list," said Blazers coach Jason Ramos, who announced last week he is stepping down after 11 years at the helm of the wrestling program.
For Oliver and his father, Laine, an assistant with the Blazers, Austin's commitment to the NAIA school in Oskaloosa, Iowa, represents the end of a "long road" that began when a 6-year-old Austin took up the sport, Laine Oliver said.
"It's been a lot of miles on the road, a lot of getting up at 4:30 a.m., a lot of bumps and bruises and tears," Lane Oliver said. "He's a true quiet warrior."
Now Austin Oliver will be taking that same perseverance to William Penn, a small school more than 1,700 miles away from his home in Olivehurst.
It's a long trip for a kid who has only left the state once — to Oregon for a wrestling tournament — but Oliver is ready, he said. In fact, he already has picked out a major: computer science.
"I've always been involved in computers," Oliver said. "That's what I'm known for, wrestling and computers."