[ skip to content ]

Toggle Mobile Menu

News @ ODU

More Information about this image

You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Wrestler Tristan Warner a Star on the Mat, and in the Classroom

A faint nod and smile of recognition comes from Tristan Warner while the question is still being articulated.

Yes, wrestlers are nuts.

How else can you explain Warner, a graduating, fifth-year senior who has wrapped up his collegiate wrestling career at Old Dominion University this season, resuming voracious training just after surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle?

"The doctor said it was ruptured completely off the bone," Warner said. "But I couldn't just sit there. I was running on a treadmill at the gym with my arm in a sling a few weeks later."

This past season, Warner fought to a 29-5 record, going undefeated in conference, while shaking off two more injuries - for meniscus and labrum tears, both of which required surgery after the season.

"My coaches taught me mental toughness. They taught me to get back up when I get knocked down, and they pretty much brainwashed me," Warner said with a grin.

The determination the 23-year-old exhibited on the wrestling mat is possibly even surpassed by the bare-knuckle approach Warner has taken to balancing athletics and academics. Warner is graduating May 9 with a double major in communications and criminal justice, and a sparkling 3.98 grade point average.

Old Dominion President John R. Broderick said he has known Warner since he was a freshman, arriving in Norfolk from Mechanicsburg, Pa.

"While his feats as an outstanding wrestler are known throughout the country, my admiration for him centers around how effectively and efficiently he balanced being a student-athlete, an outstanding student and a campus leader," Broderick said.

"Tristan has been one of the athletic representatives from our sports programs who meet with me several times a year to discuss a variety of campus and national topics. He is always prepared and knowledgeable and represents himself and Old Dominion in both a meaningful and positive way. His future is bright."

For the past two seasons, Warner was also presented the Elite 89 award at the NCAA championships, given to the qualifier with the highest cumulative GPA of all 330 competitors competing at the finals site.

Warner and Karen Hayde of the ODU women's lacrosse team were named the 2015 recipients of the Jack Wilkins/James Howard Scholar Athletes of the Year at the annual Old Dominion University Athletic honors banquet Monday night.

With his bulging shoulder muscles and his ears cauliflowered from hours of mat combat, Warner knows he fits the visual image of a wrestler. But he shatters that stereotype in the classroom.

"Instructors who don't know me read my papers and think someone else wrote them. It's nice to surprise people by changing their perception," said Warner, who is applying to graduate schools and hopes to work in athletic communications.

Warner, who competed in the 165-pound weight category, was one of five Old Dominion wrestlers to earn all-state honors from the Virginia Sports Information Directors. He said the internal leadership of the team is something that he and fellow fifth-year seniors Jacob Henderson and Matt Tourdot have worked hard to instill. They are also graduating with high grade point averages in difficult majors.

The culture of working as a team on the mat and in the classroom helped the wrestling Monarchs earn the second highest GPA in the NCAA, trailing only Harvard. This year's GPA rankings are expected out soon, and Warner said the team is anticipating those figures as much as the team's athletic ranks.

"The academic piece is something that has become an expectation. The seniors who are graduating want to leave a legacy for the younger wrestlers to follow," Warner said. "If we set an example, they know the bar is set high for Old Dominion wrestling in every way."