SE’s Duckett eyes next goal
DES MOINES — Ryan Duckett did what he said he was going to do — earn a state tournament berth.
The St. Edmond senior fought through excruciating knee pain and will end his high school career in Des Moines.
“Now I need to shift my focus to getting on the podium,” Duckett said. “It’s hard knowing that I won’t ever wrestle another tournament in that green singlet after this week.
“I’m going to give it my all, but no matter what the outcome is, I want to take my time to enjoy my final tournament and just have fun.”
The goal for the Gael 120-pounder was simple: do what it takes and deal with anything that comes his way. The two-time state qualifier didn’t reach Wells Fargo Arena on his own, as he leaned on his coach and his family.
“I have a fantastic group of people behind me — not just through my injury, but throughout my career,” Duckett said. “My parents have been to every single meet cheering my teammates and I on.
“My uncle has helped me tremendously as well.”
Through the years, Duckett has also found an ally in his coach, Eugene Carlson.
“Coach Carlson said to me in practice a few weeks ago that maybe we should think about taking me out and accepting that I’ve had a great career,” Duckett said. “All I said was, ‘I’m not ready to be done, I will go to state.’ He said, ‘That’s all I needed to hear.'”
“He has done everything he can to set me up for success, and it paid off.”
Even with the low numbers in the St. Edmond program, the group on the mat is slowly building for the future.
“I couldn’t do what I’ve done without my teammates, who have continued to practice with me even though the season is over.”
Duckett (16-5) will face third-ranked junior Garrett Funk (36-1) of Don Bosco in the first round. Funk is a two-time state qualifier. He was 43-4 last season and finished fifth.
“I told Ryan he is good enough and shoot for top six,” Carlson said. “He needs to be realistic and just go out there and go for it.
“Why stop now?”
Carlson knows Funk is a solid wrestler, but at this point, he has nothing to lose.
“Funk is a solid competitor, but so is Ryan,” Carlson said. “It boils down to the fact that it doesn’t matter who he has wrestled — now he has to wrestle you.
“Don’t wrestle yourself, go out and dicatate the tempo of the match. He’s been there once and knows what’s going on.”