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A week after winning a state wrestling championship early this month, Rocco Caywood committed to the U.S. Military Academy, where he hopes to win an NCAA championship or two in his sport.
The Perrysburg High School senior was sought by a long list of collegiate wrestling programs — including Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina State, Purdue, and Kent State — but West Point stood above the rest for the 18-year-old.
“It’s awesome,” Mr. Caywood said. “To know I’ll get a great education, wrestle, and serve for our country, it is just awesome.”
He isn’t just committing to attend class and wrestle for Army, he’s also vowing at least five years of active military duty after college. He’s following in the footsteps of his father and uncle, who served with the Army National Guard.
During recruiting, Mr. Caywood quickly eliminated “party schools,” his father said.
“He wants to be focused and not get sidetracked,” Carl Caywood said. “He has always been goal-oriented and focused, I can’t say enough about that. I’m extremely proud he’s taking the hard road.”
Sam Cotterman, Perrysburg High School’s wrestling coach, once faced a similar decision: He could have played football at Army, but chose to go to the University of Findlay instead. He says he didn’t get the education he wanted and returned to college.
“That’s the best part about Rocco. Most college athletes only think about the sport in college,” Mr. Cotterman said. “He’s thinking about his future and the opportunity they offer is a great one.”
When talking about his options, Rocco Caywood was quick to point out his options and potential earning power after attending West Point.
During his West Point visits, he slept in a barracks and loved the brotherhood feeling on campus. Army cadets are focused on becoming the best they can be, he said.
That appealed to him, although he admitted being a bit nervous about the tough schedule and regimen. While he isn’t sure what he will study, he is leaning toward engineering and does not want to join the infantry.
West Point grade-point averages are based on academics, physical ability, and leadership skills — three areas Mr. Caywood is eager to work on.
While the decision to go to Army was more about the opportunities, developing as a person, and life after college, Mr. Caywood still has his athletic goals.
“I want to win an NCAA championship, multiple NCAA championships,” he said confidently.
He’s three weeks from winning the state title at 182 pounds, but said he wants to “bulk up” to 197 in college. His workload will certainly be bulking up too.
“The road ahead will be hard, but I think it is the best decision of his life,” Carl Caywood said.