The Student News Site of University of Nebraska at Kearney

The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

Bumpy road leads McCauley to UNK

After a successful college wrestling career, McCauley travels to Golden, Colorado, to punch his ticket to the national tournament

JD Rader
Antelope Sports

In just a few days, senior wrestler Destin McCauley plans to wrestle his final match as a UNK athlete in the 2017 Division II NCAA wrestling championship finals. It’s been an unusually long and winding path that has led McCauley here, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
It all started for McCauley at the young age of 5. That’s when his dad put him into wrestling to get rid of some of Destin’s extra energy and restlessness. The Sioux City, Iowa, native immediately saw success. McCauley was a natural born athlete and had no problem picking up wrestling techniques.

McCauley became so good that he and his family made the decision to move from Sioux City to Apple Valley, Minnesota, to surround Destin with better resources that would allow him to succeed on the mat.

The success continued in Apple Valley, when McCauley won a state title in his first year there as a seventh grader.  You can compete at the varsity level in seventh grade in Minnesota. He would go on to win four more state titles, making him one of only four people to win five state titles in the state of Minnesota.

McCauley was also winning at the national level, taking home a coveted Fargo national title his junior year. After the tournament, head USA Wrestling Coach Bill Zadick approached McCauley and asked him to spend the summer training in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center with some of the nation’s top athletes, an offer McCauley couldn’t refuse.    

Zadick wasn’t the only coach after McCauley. Many Division 1 wrestling programs and coaches reached out and recruited him. McCauley ultimately decided to put off college for another year and train full time for the Olympics and Junior World Championships at the Olympic Training Center.
“ But there’re still a lot of good wrestlers in DII obviously, and I had to learn that the hard way.”  -Destin McCauley

Favorite music artist: old school Eminem
Favorite food: cookie dough ice cream
Favorite sports team: Kansas City Chiefs
Favorite movie: “Pain and Gain”
After competing at the Junior World Championships, but failing to make the Olympic team in the summer of 2012, it was time for college.

McCauley chose to take his talents to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for the 2013 fall semester. It seemed like a great fit, due to Lincoln’s location and having three-time world and Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs, who McCauley met and trained with at the Olympic Training Center.

Things didn’t work out and after just one semester at UNL, and McCauley decided to leave. “I wasn’t seeing eye to eye with the coaches on some things. To be at that level you need everything to be according to plan and things just weren’t,” McCauley said.

For the first time in a long time, it was McCauley recruiting for a place to go instead being recruited by coaches and teams.

His first call was to former UNK wrestler Chase White. “I knew I wanted to stay close, I knew Kearney always had a good wrestling team and I already knew Chase White. So, that’s who I contacted asking about the program and if I would be accepted.”

Former head wrestling coach, Marc Bauer, welcomed McCauley with open arms, but once again, things didn’t go as planned. McCauley was eligible to wrestle as soon as he arrived on UNK’s campus in January 2014. However, after winning his first four matches, he finished the season just 6-4 and failed to qualify for the national tournament.
“Coming from the training center, to a DI, to here (UNK), I thought it was going to be easier, and I was going to be able to do what I normally do,” McCauley said. “But there’re still a lot of good wrestlers in DII obviously, and I had to learn that the hard way.”

Photo by Todd Rundstrom Senior Destin McCauley eyes his opponet during a recent match at Cushing Colesium. The Physical Education K-6 major from North Sioux City, IA has found success in wrestling at many levels, including here at UNK.
Photo by Todd Rundstrom
Senior Destin McCauley eyes his opponet during a recent match at Cushing Colesium. The Physical Education K-6 major from North Sioux City, IA has found success in wrestling at many levels, including here at UNK.

He knew it was still going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed, but he learned fast. After a rough first season, McCauley bounced back by claiming a MIAA conference title and finishing third at the national championships in 2015. He then improved even more in 2016, bringing home another MIAA conference title as well as a national championship.

“The main thing that really changed was my mindset, I refocused on my goals and changed my habits around,” McCauley said. “Things just started to click more”.

Things aren’t just clicking for McCauley on the mat, however. In addition to finding a second family in the UNK wrestling team, McCauley has found a girl in Kearney to settle down with and start a family of his own. Destin and his fiancé, Maddie, are expecting a baby boy in May of 2017. “I can’t wait for our little family to start and see what this life has ahead of us.”

Life is going well right now, and he knows it. “Things seem to be going pretty well, so I can’t complain about anything,” McCauley said.

And while it might not be business as usual at home with a baby on the way, it has been business as usual for McCauley on the mat. He moved up a weight class this year from 149 to 157 and is currently ranked second in the nation.

No matter what happens this post-season for McCauley, he said he won’t have any regrets. “You shouldn’t ever regret anything.”
The wrestler wears a reminder of this in the form of a Bible verse on his ribs: Ephesians 6:12. “It talks about how you’re going to have struggles. Not just people-to-people struggles, but other evils as well trying to bring you down. You have to rely on God a little bit to have your back and push you through those times.”

McCauley said he has relied on God throughout his whole life, a life that has included a lot of success, struggles and unconventional moves, but a life that has led him to his current home and place that has brought him happiness: Kearney, Nebraska.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Antelope

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Nebraska at Kearney . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Antelope

Comments (0)

All The Antelope Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *