Colten Thomas knows about patience. The Fort Myers senior, a Class 2A runner-up at 132 pounds in wrestling a season ago, employs tactics on the mat better than almost anyone his size.
So he knew finding the right college would take time. But instead of letting his dream school find him, he figured the best way to get in front of a future college program was to call a potential coach himself.
He went out and approached Duke University on his own.
And what he found was a coach, Glen Lanham, willing to listen and to give him qualifying standards for the program he sought. Almost two years later, Thomas made that dream a reality, committing to the Blue Devils in August following a visit to the school in July.
“Honestly, from the sixth grade until now, it’s been my dream school,” said Thomas, who plans to make his decision final during the early signing period in November. “It being the Division I level, which all athletes strive to compete at and reach, was a factor. But also because of its academics. The legacy it has and the opportunities it has to offer, it’s just a great school overall.”
The 5-foot-11, 140-pound wrestler has an overall record of 108-19 at Fort Myers.
During the recruiting process, Thomas was behind the phone almost five days a week over the summer, calling prospective college wrestling coaches. It’s there where he developed relationships, including one with Lanham.
“Florida wrestling doesn’t get too much exposure, especially from out of state programs,” Thomas said. “I knew these schools wouldn’t come looking for me. So you have to make your name known to them.”
And from the get-go, Thomas said, Lanham was able to give Thomas realistic sticking points for not only admission, but as a Division I athlete.
If Thomas wanted to compete at Duke, he said, he would need a pristine ACT score, an upper-echelon GPA, top four status at the state finals and All-American honors.
“I think it went a long way constantly telling them how much I want to be there and following back up with them a week later,” he said. “I wanted to build a personal relationship and wanted to be accountable for what I said.”
Thomas put the final cap on those requirements this past summer. He scored a 30 on his second try at the ACT, maintains an unweighted 3.82 GPA, finished second at state in going 38-6 overall and then added an All-American honor at the Disney Duals in July.
While Thomas’ application to Duke is still pending and nothing is guaranteed, he said, all the wheels are rolling toward making his commitment a reality.
“I pray every day things are going well and within a month or two, there should be some confirmation,” Thomas said.
The Fort Myers senior plans to either study economics or follow a pre-med track. Thomas said his late grandfather was an orthopedic surgeon who performed residency work at Duke University.