Some-times, listening to your parents can pay off. Or, in Ronald Genco III’s case, save a lot of money.
Genco, the top wrestler at Clinton High this past season, will continue his career at Luther College in Decorah. Although it’s a private college, much of the cost of his education will be paid for because he paid attention to the academic side of high school.
Genco received a Larson Presidential Scholarship and plans to major in biology and study premed at Luther. He said he would like to be a surgeon someday.
“It’s an academic scholarship, so most of my schooling is paid for,” said Genco, who had a 33-8 record as a senior and placed seventh at the Iowa Class 3A state tournament at 119 pounds. “My parents always told me I should worry about grades before anything else. Now, I realize what they said is true.”
He also will be a part of one of the top NCAA Division III wrestling programs in the country.
The Norse have placed in the top 10 in Division III nine times since 2000, including three consecutive third-place finishes (2004-06).
“I went to a lot of wrestling camps up there,” Genco said. “I really liked the campus, and I like the coach (Dave Mitchell). He caught my attention. That pretty much sealed the deal.”
Besides wrestling for Mitchell, who has served 15 years as head coach, Genco also will be guided by assistant coach Jeff O’Gara, a former Division III national champion in the light weights.
“He knows his stuff when it comes to wrestling,” Genco said of O’Gara. “I’ve seen him teach other kids at camps.”
Genco said he probably would wrestle at 125 or 133 pounds but said his chances of starting right away were “not great.”
“This year there are a lot of incoming freshmen, and it will be more of a younger team,” Genco said. “Coach Mitchell says he sees great things in the future, and if we go by what he says, he thinks we can be a really successful team.”
Wrestling in the Iowa Conference, considered the premier Division III wrestling conference in the country, can make success a relative term.
“Having all these great schools in one conference makes for more rivalries,” he said. “I’m kind of anxious to wrestle for Luther and wrestle against these other tough collegiate wrestling schools.”
But, as it did in high school, education will come first.