March 15, 2002
Bronson Lingamfelter was sitting in a seventh grade classroom when he heard an announcement over the loudspeaker that would change him forever.
The announcement said that his school was starting a junior high wrestling team, and anyone was welcome to join. Lingamfelter had never wrestled before, but he was curious to learn a new sport so he decided to go down and check it out.
Today, close to nine years later, Lingamfelter is one of the best heavyweight collegiate wrestlers in the country for Brown University.
Lingamfelter played several sports while growing up in Boxborough, Massachusetts, but wrestling quickly became his forte almost immediately after he was exposed to the sport. By the time he was in eighth grade, Lingamfelter was winning just about all of his matches.
"I tried just about every other sport," he said. "I was pretty bad at most of them until I found wrestling. It just kind of clicked with me."
In collegiate wrestling, starting in the seventh grade is considered late for most grapplers, but it has been Lingamfelter who has left his competition behind over the last four years.
Lingamfelter, a senior tri-captain for the Bears, has been a four-time NCAA qualifier at Brown, and is currently ranked among the nation's top twenty wrestlers in the heavyweight division with a 30-5 record. The senior was named the EIWA wrestler of the week on February 13 as he became only the second wrestler in Brown history to record 100 overall victories in a career when he pinned Joe Looke of Princeton in a 25-11 win over the Tigers on February 10. Lingamfelter punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships for the fourth consecutive year this season by finishing second in heavyweight action at the EIWA Tournament on March 9-10.
As a team the Bears compiled a 12-6 overall record this season and went 3-2 in the Ivy League. Head coach Dave Amato helped to highlight the season as he picked up his 300th career victory at the Lone Star Duals on January 5.
Last season as a junior, Lingamfelter was selected First Team All-Ivy after compiling a 30-9 record and placing second at the EIWA Tournament. As a sophomore in 1999-2000, Lingamfelter finished with a 23-10 individual mark and had a stretch of ten consecutive wins. He finished fourth at the EIWA Tournament that year.
During the 1998-99 season, he enjoyed one of the most successful rookie seasons in Brown wrestling history, posting a 22-11 mark. He also became only the second Brown freshman to be named the EIWA Freshman of the Year and the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in the same season. But one of his biggest thrills at Brown has been wrestling in front of capacity crowds at the national tournament each year.
"It's awesome...especially coming from Massachusetts where no one really cares about wrestling," said Lingamfelter. "To go into a filled arena was a completely foreign concept to me. It was awesome to see the sport have that popularity somewhere," he said. However, as a three-year veteran of the national tournament, Lingamfelter has become more familiar with the championship atmosphere during his time at Brown. "My freshman year I was a little in awe of it, but I've come to expect it since then," he said.
Something else he's come to expect is seeing his father, C. Brown Lingamfelter, in the stands at all of his matches. A retired owner of a computer software company, his father has the opportunity to see him wrestle numerous times throughout the season. This year alone he flew out to Las Vegas, NV and Dallas, TX to watch Bronson compete at the Las Vegas Invitational and the Lone Star Duals. Bronson's father jokingly refers to himself as "the megaphone" as he can often be heard echoing the calls of the Brown coaches.
"Whatever my teammates or my coach yells, he just keeps going until he hears something else," joked Lingamfelter.
That competitive spirit displayed by his father, is what Bronson likes best about the sport of wrestling. Lingamfelter loves the one on one competition of wrestling even though it is a team sport where everyone is working together towards a common goal.
"At the end of a meet you know if you won or lost. There's no hiding," said Lingamfelter.
A business economics major at Brown, Lingamfelter will work for an equity trading company in New York next year.
While he does not plan on continuing to wrestle after graduation, he sees his new job as somewhat of a substitute for wrestling.
"It's a very competitive workspace so I think that will help to replace the void of wrestling," he said.
For Lingamfelter, the sport of wrestling has truly become a part of who he is. A part he didn't know was there until he heard his calling in that certain seventh grade classroom.