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Mat Chat: Casey Randles, Coeur d'Alene
Al Fontes has a one-on-one talk with former Coeur d'Alene wrestler Casey Randles
Published: 4/20/2022 2:41:40 PM
Al Fontes
Contributing Writer

The city of Coeur d’ Alene, located in the northwest panhandle of Idaho, is known for water sports, walking the trails in the Canfield Mountain Natural Area, and it’s National Forest. Within the wrestling circles, it is also known for the quality of wrestlers and programs it produces each and every year.

Since moving to Idaho a few years ago and integrating into the wrestling scene, it has been my observation that the Northern Area of Idaho is truly passionate for wrestling and sports in general. To date, Coeur d’ Alene High School (CDA) has won five State Team Championships since the early 1970s and has had numerous individual State Champions, placers, and All-Americans.

Among CDA’s elite alumni is 2017 graduate Casey Randles, a 3x Idaho State Champion (first two titles at Sandpoint H.S.) and recipient of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award for the state of Idaho. The Dave Schultz Award is based on wrestling achievement, scholastic achievement, citizenship, and community service.

Additionally, Randles compiled a career prep record of approximately 160 wins, and earned All-American honors at both the USAW Folkstyle Nationals (finalist) and National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) Championships, winning an individual title in the Senior Division. After the completion of high school, Randles moved onto the next level and competed for the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Making the transition from high school to Division I (DI) is not an easy task as only a small percentage of prep wrestlers make it to this level. Rated among the top prep wrestlers in Idaho his senior season, Randles took his talents to Laramie and wrestled for the University of Wyoming (DI) from 2017 to 2020.

While competing for the Cowboys, Randles fared well in dual meet and tournament competitions, winning individual titles at the Utah Open and Journeymen Classic to name a few. During his three year stay at Wyoming, Randles occasionally represented the Cowboys in the starting line-up in duals or tournaments, but by the end of his final season in 2020, he did not attain the top spot in his weight group (174s) to compete at the Big 12 Conference Championships, the qualifying tournament for the NCAA Division I National Championships.

Despite not achieving his goal of earning All-American at the DI level, Randles wasted no time in the classroom and completed his Bachelors of Arts degree in American Studies in only three years, an exceptional accomplishment for a student/athlete. The discipline required to extensively train and wrestle at the DI level along with maintaining a full academic load and more is not an easy task (NOTE: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, just 41% of first-time full-time college students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years, and only 59% earn a bachelor’s in six years).

Always moving forward, Randles still had the desire to compete on the mat, as well as continue his post graduate studies, but his future was unclear in the months leading up to graduation.

Then the unexpected happened.

Randles received a phone call from Grand View University Assistant Coach Jake Laden to discuss the possibilities of continuing his education and mat career at the University. In life, one never knows exactly where it will go or when their journey will be altered and set on an unexpected course, especially when at a crossroads.

Continuously improving in life has been Randles’ credence since an early age. It was just a matter of figuring out where to begin his new chapter. Considering Randles still had two years of wrestling eligibility left, he decided to make a trip back to Des Moines, Iowa to check out the Grand View program. Upon his visit, he immediately observed the enthusiasm and motivation exemplified by the wrestlers and head coach Nick Mitchell in not only the wrestling room, but around campus and community.

The atmosphere in the wrestling room was energetic, motivating… I knew I could thrive in this environment. The positive academic and wrestling culture at Grand View was for me.”

                                                - Casey Randles


It was Randles’ desire to enjoy wrestling again coupled by earning a Master’s degree in a positive new setting that convinced him to consider the Grand View program. Around the spring of 2020, a few months prior to graduating from Wyoming, Randles made his final decision to attend Grand View and eventually arrived in Des Moines later that summer.

Ready to begin a new chapter in his life, Randles joined the program and became the starter in the 174-pound weight group. From the beginning, he thrived at Grand View and went on to earn his first college level All-American honor by placing third at the 2021 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) Championships. The following season, Randles led the Grand View program to its 10th overall team title in eleven years and capped his collegiate career with an individual national title, second All-American honor, and a collegiate record of 104 wins. As of this writing, Randles is in the process of completing his course work and will graduate with a Master’s degree in Sports Management at the end of this month (April 2022).

The sport of wrestling has been an integral part of the Randles family for over three decades. Casey’s father Mike has been involved both on and off the mat in various administrative and coaching roles for several decades. He was the head coach at Sandpoint High School for 18 years where he produced 3 state championship teams, 2 nationally ranked teams, 25 individual State Champions, and 95 state placers. Many of his wrestlers went on to compete at the DI level. Currently, Mike is the Principal at CDA and a recent inductee into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame – Idaho Chapter for lifetime service.

Casey’s younger brother, Nolan, a 2021 graduate at CDA, became the school’s first 4x state placer (2x finalist) and currently competes for Southern Oregon. His sister, Alyssa, a junior at CDA recently earned her third state title and is a 2x All-American, which includes placing at the prestigious Fargo Nationals in 2021.

In closing, it has been an honor to meet Casey Randles and discuss his journey thus far. He is a great example of a wrestler that works very hard, both in the classroom and on the mat, living life to the fullest. He is always moving forward in the process and does not allow failure or extraordinary challenges from deterring him to continuously improve and reach his goals and full potential.

To date, Randles has had an exceptional prep career at CDA, followed by his experience at the University of Wyoming to his recent championship performance at the NAIA Nationals. Close to completing his Master’s degree, Casey is now in position to move forward and begin another chapter in his life. I wish him the best in his journey moving forward.

I had the opportunity to talk with Casey about his wrestling career, academics, and life experiences thus far. Below is my Q&A with Casey.

Q&A WITH CASEY RANDLES

Q: How did you first get involved in the sport of wrestling?

A:
I began wrestling at the young age of 4. My Dad, Mike, was the coach at Sandpoint High School and our local club program. In the beginning, I didn’t win many matches, but never gave up. Despite losing a lot early in my career, I was motivated to get better.

Q: Who has been your biggest influence in the sport?

A: My Dad. He coached me from the beginning and continues to give me general advice about wrestling.

Q: Is there an Olympian or collegiate level wrestlers or someone outside of the sport of wrestling that you want to aspire to be someday?

A: When I was young, I looked up to 4x NCAA Champion and Olympic Gold medalist Cael Sanderson.

Q: What life lessons have you learned in wrestling that applies in your day-to-day life?

A: Simple lessons, such as discipline. For example, how I approach my day-to-day training, preparation, and academics. To live a healthy and productive lifestyle.

Q: What advice would you give a young wrestler wanting to be successful in the sport of wrestling?

A: Keep it simple. Work hard, but don’t push yourself where you are not enjoying the sport. Enjoy your journey.

Q: Outside the sport of wrestling, what other goals do you have in life?

A: I want to maintain meaningful relationships with my family, friends, and future co-workers. It’s also a goal of mine to write a memoir, as well as a fiction novel.

Q: The number of Idaho wrestlers experiencing success on the national stage is increasing annually. Currently, Idaho is not a top five power state, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Illinois, New Jersey, but with the recent growth and opportunity in the Gem State is improving each year. Where do you see Idaho wrestling in the next ten years?

A: I believe Idaho has a lot of talent that is capable of competing on the national level. Considering Idaho is geographically isolated between the north and south, it’s difficult for kids from these regions to compete on a regular basis. No longer having a collegiate program in Idaho also hurts. Reinstating Boise State or starting any other program would inspire more kids to compete at the collegiate level. Additionally, the growth of girls wrestling, club wrestling, and organized off-season competitions is making a big difference in Idaho...It’s creating more growth and interest. With leaders, such as, Chris Owens and Levi Jones to name a few, Idaho is becoming more competitive at the state and national levels. It’s leadership and efforts like this that will continue impacting our sport in the years to come.

Q: What has been your experience at Grand View, both academically and with the championship program?

A: Academically Grand View is very good. I’m thankful for the opportunity to complete my master’s while competing. But the main draw of Grand View is the wrestling program. Talk to any of the wrestlers and they’ll tell you a similar story. The emphasis is to perform and make the right choice in every aspect of your life, whether this be your relationships with family or your daily diet choices. By living this way, you become a better wrestler, but more importantly grow as a person.

Q: What was it like to be part of a national championship team at Grand View University?

A: Our culture is very positive. I’ve really enjoyed being part of this team. Winning the national title together after all the work we’d put in felt great.

Q: What are your future plans in wrestling after Grand View?

A: Although my collegiate career is over, I haven’t decided on the specifics of what is next. Currently, I plan on transitioning from competing to coaching over the next couple years.

CASEY RANDLES ACADEMIC AND ATHLETIC PROFILE

COLLEGE ACADEMICS:

  • Master of Science degree in Sports Management at Grand View University
  • Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies at the University of Wyoming
  • GPA: 3.5

 COLLEGIATE WEIGHT: 174

 COLLEGE ACCOLADES:

  • NAIA National Champion ’22 (Grand View University, Des Moines, IA)
  • 3rd Place NAIA Nationals ‘21
  • 2x NAIA All-American, 2021, ’22
  • University of Wyoming (3 years), 2017 – ’20

 COLLEGE WRESTLING CLUB:

  • Viking Wrestling Club (Grand View Univ.)

 HIGH SCHOOL:

  • Coeur d’ Alene High School (Class of 2017)
  • Sandpoint High School (2015 – ’16)
  • GPA: 3.9

 HIGH SCHOOL ACCOLADES:

  • 5A State Champion (Coeur d’ Alene H.S.), 2017
  • Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award Winner, 2017
  • Idaho Wrestler of the Year, 2017
  • 2x 4A State Champion (Sandpoint H.S.), 2015, ’16
  • NHSCA Senior National Champion 2017
  • Folkstyle All-American (Finalist), 2016
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