Two and a half years ago, Goddard’s Tyler Caldwell was wrapping up one of the great wrestling careers in the history of Kansas High School wrestling. He won four consecutive state titles, was 148-4 for his career and finished with 125 career pins; a record that still stands.
Fast-forward to June of 2011 and Caldwell has reached heights far beyond his stellar high school career.
In March, Caldwell finished second in the NCAA at 165 pounds for his second consecutive All-American honor for Oklahoma. Then, just three months later at the World Team Trials in Oklahoma City, Okla, Caldwell finished in the top eight to qualify to train with the U.S. National team.
He will take a year off of college and collegiate wrestling to train with the top wrestlers the United States has to offer. It is all part of Caldwell’s end-game.
“My personal goal is to be the best. To be the best you have to win world and Olympic championships. I’m just trying to put myself in position to do that,” Caldwell said.
Another change in Caldwell’s wrestling life was his decision to transfer to Nebraska this past May. Oklahoma’s coaching staff was overhauled with longtime coach Jack Spates calling it a career at the end of this past season. Caldwell saw an opportunity to further his dream.
“It’s just a better situation at Nebraska with the coaching staff and training partners,” Caldwell said. “I made that move for myself.”
One of those training partners is 2011 Dan Hodge Trophy winner Jordan Burroughs. Burroughs handed Caldwell three of his six losses on the season including losses in the Big XII and the NCAA 165-pound finals.
Burroughs is one of the great collegiate wrestlers of the last few years with two national titles to his name. He was able to win the 163-pound weight class at the World Team Trials to claim a spot on the team.
The Nebraska star’s prowess on the mat was well known, but that did not stop Caldwell from cutting weight this past season to get into Burroughs’ weight class.
“I knew that he was the best guy in the country pound-for-pound,” Caldwell said. “I knew it was going to be a challenge coming down to that weight class, but I felt like it was a better weight class for me. I was excited to wrestle against the best guy in the country. It really motivated and pushed me in the room knowing that I was coming down to his weight class.”
Now the former Big XII rivals will motivate and train with each other in person.
“It’s going to be an all-around great situation for me to go up there and train with him,” Caldwell said. “This all worked out great. I’m moving up to Lincoln to train with the No. 1 guy in the country, and possibly the world right now.”
Caldwell is only home for a short time as he is busy working camps and getting ready to travel abroad with the national team. On July 10 he and the U.S. team will be travelling to the Ukraine to train for two weeks.
This next year will be all wrestling, all the time for Caldwell, but do not expect this Kansas grappler to get burnt out from constant training and wrestling.