Whenever junior wrestler Tom Lane talks, he is calm, soft-spoken and even “a little goofy,” by his own admission.
On the mat, however, the 6-foot-2-inch 197-pounder is as dedicated as they come. His demeanor and work ethic when it comes to wrestling is second to none and has put him in a league of his own as a result.
Lane’s 18-10 record this season, with eight wins by major decision and two wins against ranked opponents, makes him one of Cal Poly’s best wrestlers and ranked No. 31 by WrestleStat in his weight class. The Garden City, New York native has already improved his win count from last season, when he finished with a record of 16-11.
Lane did not begin to take wrestling seriously until tenth grade, when he was forced to be on his school’s varsity team due to a lack of wrestlers in his weight class.
“I was like ‘ugh, okay, I’ll just do varsity wrestling tenth grade’,” Lane said. “And then I actually had a lot of success at first and I was like ‘damn, I’m actually pretty good at this thing.'”
Lane’s late start is a a stark contrast to wrestlers who often begin to dedicate themselves to the sport around 2nd, 3rd or 4th grade, according to his head coach Jon Sioredas.
Despite the late start atypical for elite wrestlers, Lane exceeded all of his expectations to succeed in college wrestling, with an appearance at the 2018 NCAA Championship and a fourth-place finish in the 2018 Pac-12 championships.
“The fact that he’s started so late and he’s having this amount of success and still has a couple years left — this year and next year — is pretty impressive,” Sioredas said. “It’s 100 percent due to his work ethic.”
The importance of a good work ethic was passed down to him early on in life by his older brother Sean, who was a swimmer at North Carolina.
“When I was in 4th grade, I saw what it takes to be the best, superior pro athlete in a sport,” Lane said of watching his older brother swim. “Growing up, I saw what [needed] to be done because most people don’t have that growing up in their home, but for me it was different.”
What needed to be done to succeed, according to Lane, was to “never give up and keep moving forward.” Being instilled with those values by his brother, along with his father, has turned Lane into an dedicated craftsman on the mat.
“It’s everything he does. He’s a competitor,” Sioredas said. “If he doesn’t have the results that he feels that he’s happy with, he’s pretty upset about it. Those guys that are competitors, they care the most. He carries that gene.”
Lane, in true competitor fashion, is looking ahead to the Pac-12 championships on March 9 in Tempe, Arizona. Focused on winning his weight class at that tournament and receiving another spot in the NCAA championship as a result, he is working to display “the best Tom Lane” that he has been training to perfect.
“The best Tom Lane is the guy getting his hand raised,” the Lane said. “It’s probably not going to look pretty […] I’m not really the most flashy wrestler in the world, but it’s [going to] be a hard match, seven minutes, to get my hand raised at the end.”