The Saratoga Sun -

Putting in the work

Former Panther and first place State Wrestler maintains workout regimen at college, gives recruitment advice


August 15, 2018

Mike Armstrong

A well-toned Thomas Ingraham takes a break for a photo.

Twenty-year-old Thomas Ingraham was back in Saratoga working at his family's establishment, JW Hugus Restaurant, for the summer.

In a week or so, he will be returning to University of Jamestown, a private college in North Dakota. In 2007, Jamestown became the first North Dakota college or university to make U.S. News and World Reports "Tier 1" for undergraduate colleges in the Midwest, an accolade repeated annually.

It is a university that takes wrestling seriously enough that it is one of the few schools that has a women's wrestling team.

"Going to the college level is so different from competing at the high school level," Zach Schmidt, Saratoga Middle High School (SMHS) wrestling coach said. "With Thomas, there was never any doubt about the effort you were going to get from him and he is where he is at because of the support he had and because of his hard work and dedication."

Schmidt said the tales of Ingraham getting up at 4 a.m. to condition himself lifting weights and then practicing at night are true.

"He was running 14 to 15 hour days being a student, being an athlete and the way he prepared himself for college is a testament to where he is at now," Schmidt said. "To be a college athlete, you have to learn to balance your life and, from when I have talked to him, he seems to have managed this lifestyle."

Ingraham said he started his early rising and weight training in the summer before his senior year at SMHS and did so all year long.

"The way I looked at it, every single morning I was putting in an extra two hours was two hours my opponents weren't," Ingraham said. "No high school kid wants to really get up at 4 a.m., be in a gym at 5 a.m., lift a bunch of heavy weights, get all sweaty and then face the day, but I believe whether it is sports, academics or a job, you should work hard at it."

His work ethic, he said ,came from the example his father, Trevor Ingraham, presented to him growing up.

"Every day, my father gets here (JW Hugus) at 3 a.m. to make sure everything is alright for the day to come," Ingraham said. "Everything he is going to do is 100 percent and my grandfather was the same way."

Ingraham said the hard work in high school paid off because he got a full scholarship to Jamestown University. In fact, Ingraham had offers from several schools.

"What sold me on Jamestown was that it wasn't a huge campus or known as a party school," Ingraham said. "Most of the students there are similar to me; about 70 percent of the school are student athletes so it makes it a lot easier to connect with new people and schedules tend to be the same."

Schmidt said Ingraham stood out in his high school years to colleges outside of Wyoming.

"A lot of kids from Wyoming don't get looks outside the state for the college level and so Wyoming athletes really have to work harder at getting noticed," Schmidt said.

Jamestown is noticing Wyoming athletes now.

"It is kind of funny because now, talking to my coaches at Jamestown, before they weren't considering recruiting any Wyoming kids before I went there, mostly because Wyoming's population is so low, but now they are asking me about some kids coming up," Ingraham said.

He said if Wyoming wrestling athletes want to get noticed by other schools out of state, a wrestler has to get his information out in the public domain as soon as possible. Ingraham said waiting until junior or senior year can leave you behind.

"If you have some potential at being a college athlete, you need to expand your horizon beyond the ones that are at home," Ingraham said. "For wrestling you need to go to Rocky Mountain Nationals, the Western Regionals and the one you want to aspire to is Fargo."

He said many wrestling collegiate coaches go to Fargo to see who to recruit. Ingraham said learning to become a certified referee helped him tremendously and advises a wrestler who has state aspirations to become one.

"I think reffing helped me out in my actual wrestling because it gave me a lot more mat awareness," Ingraham said. "You learn to have great anticipation of what wrestlers are going to do before they do."

Starting out, Ingraham said he wasn't all that into wrestling even though he started in third grade.

"I didn't win a match for three years," Ingraham said.

It wasn't until he was in middle school he started winning and gaining confidence. He gives credit to his coaches during that time.

"Sterling Arnold, Rusty Arnold and Mr. (Jared) Mason were my coaches until my senior year, when Mr. Schmidt was my coach–and all helped me become what I am," Ingraham said. "My freshman to junior year, I was in the top six of state and I was pretty consistent."

Ingraham had a great senior year wrestling in high school.

"Senior year it all came together," Ingraham said. "I wanted to show wrestlers in the classes below me with a lot of hard work you can win."

Ingraham said he has always puts the same emphasis on working hard in academics that he does in wrestling.

"Schooling has always been a huge thing for me," Ingraham said. "My parents said the sport might be great, but it is always schooling first."

Ingraham said his first year he redshirted because he felt it was important to focus on his classes and get a handle on what was expected from pursuing a mechanical engineering degree. Being redshirted in wrestling doesn't mean you can't compete in open tournaments, it means you can't represent the school. This allowed Ingraham to wrestle and keep himself in shape, but allowed him to focus on his studies.

"The workload I had for the first year was pretty crazy," Ingraham said. "In fact, Jamestown wrestling, basketball and football teams won't take mechanical engineering students any longer to be on the team because the degree is so hard."

Ingraham said he doesn't party with friends and peers because his goal is to do extremely well academically versus having the enjoyment of the temporary fun times.

"You know, if you are looking at a sport to help you get into a college, then really take it seriously and don't wait until your senior year," Ingraham said. "Parents should sit down and talk with their kids to see if they are serious about competing like my parents did with me, because the earlier you set your sights on it the better, and that means academics too."

He said with the expense of going to college, it is worth the effort to do as well in school with sports or academics as you possibly can to get scholarships. He does caution to make sure a student has the desire to pursue a sport, because to do it well means there must be passion. He said too many wrestlers he has come to know burned out because they didn't really enjoy the sport.

Ingraham said that has never been the case for him.

"If it weren't for wrestling, I wouldn't be going to Jamestown with a full scholarship," Ingraham concluded.


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