Dickinson State Blue Hawks wrestling senior Deshun Haynes drowns out distractions before national meet

Before he wrestles, Deshun Haynes likes to grab his headphones and listen to music to drown out any distractions. Haynes has battled through many distractions throughout his career -- moving all the way from Texas, being the first in his family t...

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Dickinson State 125-pound senior Deshun Haynes, left, wrestles Austin Dodson of University of Great Falls during the Tyler Plummer Classic on Jan. 23 at Weinbergen Gymnasium. (Press Photo by Colton Pool)

Before he wrestles, Deshun Haynes likes to grab his headphones and listen to music to drown out any distractions.

Haynes has battled through many distractions throughout his career - moving all the way from Texas, being the first in his family to go to college, his grandmother’s death and the murder of his uncle - to get where he is today.

“It helps me block out everything and not worry about what my opponent is doing,” Haynes said of his routine. “It blocks out wrestling for me, period. It helps me get to me.”

But somehow, Haynes is back in the national tournament.

The Dickinson State senior 125-pound wrestler will join six other Blue Hawks to compete in the NAIA national tournament that begins today at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan. This will be Haynes’ second trip to the national event.


Haynes, along with No. 10-ranked junior Seth Ehlang at 149 pounds, No. 4-ranked senior Taylor Hodel at 165 pounds, freshman Cody Johnson at 174 pounds, No. 6-ranked junior Jon Solano at 184 pounds, No. 15-ranked junior Lane Oversen at 184 pounds and No. 7-ranked junior Hudson Buck at 197 pounds will represent No. 14-ranked DSU.

“God told me I should be here, and I met a second family away from home here,” Haynes said. “These guys on the team are amazing. They’re all my brothers, and it’s something that I’ve never experienced before.”

Haynes needed some help to get to the national meet. After going into the NAIA Central Region National Qualifier in Marshall, Mo., as the No. 16-ranked wrestler in his division, Haynes took fifth in his weight class, and only the top three receive automatic bids into the national tournament.

Haynes was voted in via national wildcard, which is voted on by coaches across the country.

“My hard work is not unnoticed,” Haynes said. “That’s one thing I really was proud about, that other coaches see how hard I’m working, as well as my teammates and coaches.”

Haynes came to DSU after filling out a questionnaire on the NAIA online homepage, and although he would travel hundreds of miles to get here, he said it felt like home and he needed to be here - even if flying to begin college meant leaving Texas for the first time.

“Obviously, we’ve welcomed him in as a walk-on kind of kid, and now here he is being a major contributor. That’s a big step, if you think about it,” DSU head coach Justin Schlecht said. “Just the fact that he threw himself out there, gave himself a chance and has worked hard to be one of the guys, the last two years he’s been a pretty good staple for us at 125.”

It was a “shellshock” when Haynes first came in. After a standout career at Cypress Lakes High School in Houston, Haynes said he was beat up in the weight room and lost match after match his freshman year.


“He was more of a defensive wrestler; more timid of taking shots,” said Brice Gorsline, a 125-pound DSU junior. “Now that he’s realized he has the abilities and capabilities of getting to the national tournament twice now with his fakes and speed, it makes it a lot easier for him to realize he can take people down and be the dominant wrestler he actually is.”

Haynes said getting himself where he is now was a longshot. In fact, he said he was fairly set on staying in Texas to be with his family when his uncle was killed during a break-in.

“One thing I always told myself, my uncle would’ve told me, ‘Don’t give up. Don’t quit because of me. … Your family is alright,’” Haynes said. “Going through college, I definitely experienced a lot of trials and tribulations.”

It’s also been almost been year since Haynes’ grandmother died from cancer.

But he feels she would’ve told him the same thing.

“Now we look at him as a two-time national qualifier with the potential to be an all-American with the potential to achieve a big-time career achievement,” Schlecht said. “He’s really come a long way.”

Haynes, a business major, has another year of school remaining. He plans on opening his own business after college.

Schlecht said, despite all that has happened, Haynes has taken care of himself both in wrestling and in school. He attested that Haynes is one of the fastest and, pound for pound, strongest on the team.


“His speed is a big thing and his strength, because he’s so short and strong,” Gorsline said. “Just the speed he has on him, it’s easy for him to get the double legs and pull it in and get the takedown really fast. That’s a big advantage for him.”

Being a two-time national tournament qualifier now, Schlecht said Haynes will have to simply wrestle like himself to be an all-American.

“One thing about wrestling, you want to stick with your strengths,” Haynes said. “I want to be me when I’m wrestling, and that speed and quickness is what I hope to accomplish this weekend. The ultimate goal is to win matches on my feet and just to keep taking down, keep taking down. Don’t stop.”

Haynes, nicknamed “Diesel,” may be one of the smallest athletes on the team. But he said perseverance is what leads to success at his weight at the national meet.

In fact, that’s how Haynes got through his entire college career, Schlecht said.

“It takes heart, to be honest with you,” Haynes said. “You can be the most talented wrestler in college, and you can lose matches and get upset at the national tournament and don’t place at all because someone went out and wanted it more than you that match. That’s all it takes, is that 7 minutes of heart.”

Related Topics: BLUE HAWKS
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