Rulon Gardner hopes to bring more than wrestling knowledge to Herriman High School

May 25, 2018, 7:57 PM | Updated: 11:19 pm

HERRIMAN, Utah – There’s a certain amount of excitement whenever a new athletic season is about to begin.

“I’ve been excited since wrestling ended, to be honest,” said Tristan Hendrickson, who is about to be a senior at Herriman High School.

For him, wrestling is everything.

Especially after he placed fifth in the Utah State wrestling tournament last season.

“It’s been my life since I was a little kid, so I love it,” Hendrickson said. “It’s given me passion. In not only wrestling, but in school and relationships and all sorts of stuff.”

This season, though, he was more excited than usual at Herriman High School’s first wrestling practice. It wasn’t because he knows this is his last season in high school. It was because of his new head coach, Rulon Gardner.

“Dude, it’s so sick,” Hendrickson said with a laugh and grin.

Gardner, a Gold medalist in wrestling at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Bronze medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympics, was recently named the head wrestling coach at Herriman High School.

“It’s one of the things I haven’t done that I originally wanted to do,” Gardner said after holding his first practice with the team. “I can help this team get to where they want to be.”

He’s hoping to bring his Olympics experience to Herriman to teach wrestlers they can be champions, too.

“I look at kids and they say, ‘the Olympics, it’s so way above beyond me.’ No it’s not,” Gardner said.

He’s a legendary figure in wrestling on the international stage.

His wrestling story is inspiring; how a country kid from Wyoming ended up with arguably the greatest upset in Olympics history.

However, it’s what he has done since winning Gold that may really resonate with Herriman students.

After frostbite being stranded from snowmobiling in Idaho, a plane crash into Lake Powell, and financial and weight issues, Gardner has been through it all but never gave up.

And at a school like Herriman, where suicides have happened far too often this past school year, he’s someone students can listen to. He’s been there.

“It’s not just about sports, but it’s about life. It’s finding those things in life,” he said. “Take a breath and remember that the sun will come up tomorrow, and it’s a whole new day and there’s a brighter side of life.”

It’s about more than just wrestling.

“If I can do it, you can do it. Anybody can do it,” Gardner said. “Truly I believe that.”

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Rulon Gardner hopes to bring more than wrestling knowledge to Herriman High School