Former Payson High School wrestling and football star R.C. LaHaye is now plying his wares for the NCAA Division II nationally seventh-ranked Western State College of Colorado.
As the Mountaineer's starting 141-pounder, LaHaye is ranked eighth nationally on a team that sports five wrestlers listed among the nation's top eight in their respective weight classes.
"We are real strong. We have a lot of good wrestlers," LaHaye said.
After graduating from Payson High School as a three-time state champion in 2000, LaHaye accepted a scholarship to attend Western State.
Last season, he molded himself into one of the finest young wrestlers on the collegiate scene. At one point in the campaign, he was the nation's No. 1 ranked 141-pounder.
At the Colorado Collegiate Championships, which drew wrestlers from all the colleges and clubs in the state, LaHaye grappled to a first-place finish. On his way to the title, he defeated a national champion from Adams State and a two-time All-American representing Northern Colorado University. For his efforts, he was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler.
At the NCAA championships, he opened with a victory over a three-time University of Nebraska All American before dropping two one-point decisions to two other All-Americans.
Among his other accomplishments were second-place finishes at the Northern Colorado Open and the Tracy Borah Invitational.
LaHaye eventually advanced to the NCAA regionals in San Francisco before a knee injury slowed his progress.
This season, LaHaye has completely recovered and is primed and ready for the season opener Nov. 12 in Paul Wright gym on the WSC campus.
The opener is the annual Crimson and Slate intrasquad dual. One of LaHaye's goals this season is to become more consistent on the mat which could lead to his winning an NCAA national championship.
"If I keep making good progress, I can do that," he said.
At Western State, LaHaye is coached by Miles Van Hee. At Payson High, he was coached by Dennis Pirch and Dave LaMotte.
Also on the WSC team with LaHaye are former PHS wrestlers George Coleman and Zach Lee. The pair, both freshmen, are expected to red shirt this season.
Academically, LaHaye is majoring in marketing with an eye on earning a BS degree and then transferring to Arizona State University where he will study for a master's degree in sports business.