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A s a kid, Summerville senior Devin Conklin made sure he was in front of the TV every Monday night to watch his favorite show, Raw.
World Wrestling Entertainment stars John Cena and The Undertaker were his favorites, and icons in the business. He didn’t collect action figures or anything of the sort, but his eyes were glued to that television screen every seventh day.
“I used to be hooked on fake wrestling,” Conklin said. “I used to bug my dad all the time, ‘I wanna wrestle, I wanna wrestle.’ ”
After pleading his case, Sean, his father, took his 9-year old to Curtis Creek Elementary, from partner school Sullivan Creek, to see if he liked wrestling.
After a few days he was hooked.
Of course he was asked not to use those moves he saw on TV. However, he did learn a lot of new moves over the last nine years that produced many victories and championships.
Conklin’s success on the mat and in the classroom led to a $20,000 renewable scholarship.
The Bears star will wrestle next season at Kansas Wesleyan, a four-year National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) college in the midwest.
“They’re getting a great kid, a leader with great worth ethic, dedication, and he wants to be better everyday,” said Bears head coach Jordan DePaoli. “And academically, they are getting a great student.”
He celebrated his college of choice with his family and coaches during a ceremony Tuesday, May 30, hosted by retiring Summerville athletic director Debbie Mager in the foyer of the school’s gymnasium.
If Conklin had a professional wrestling name it would have to be something like Devin the Conqueror, Conklin the Conqueror or even Devin “The Conqueror” Conklin.
Most of his opponents couldn’t argue.
Conklin finished his Bears career as one of the most decorated athletes. He won the Mother Lode League title three straight years in three different weight classes (132, 138, 145), and was the Sac-Joaquin Section division V champion the last two seasons, also in two different weight classes (138, 145). He qualified for Masters three times.
His name is plastered to almost every wall in the Summerville wrestling room.
“He had a great career here at Summerville,” said DePaoli, who coached Conklin all four years and was the first to earn a scholarship under his guidance. “He was sixth on the all-time wins list and he was a leader in that room.”
Conklin is entering a situation at Kansas Wesleyan where the program is in its infancy. When Conklin hits the mat for the Coyotes, it will be the second year for the program. He can likely earn a spot and be wrestling competitively a a freshman.
“I won’t have much to live up to,” Conklin said. “I can start my own legacy and lay the groundwork for a new program. I wanted to wrestle as a freshman and I’m pretty much guaranteed a spot.”
The Kansas coach responded after Conklin puts his statistics and a wrestling video on the school’s recruiting page.
Conklin visited the school during spring break and also saw his older sister, Shelby, who starred as a pitcher on the Summerville softball team, and now plays for Missouri Valley. The schools are about four hours apart.
Before attending school next fall, Conklin will take advantage this summer of the abundance of water and wakeboard.
“A lot of kids like to go snowboarding, that’s not my thing. I stick to water,” Conklin said. “And that’s during wrestling season so I can get injured.”
When the wrestling season begins, DePaoli thinks Kansas has a budding superstar.
Conklin has had trouble putting muscle mass on his “strong bean” frame as DePaoli calls it, even though he is dedicated in the weightroom.
“He’s gonna be one of those kids that develop in the next couple of years, which will be great for Kansas,” DePaoli said. “I feel like he’ll finish his four year degree and become someone special.”