Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Daily Email Edition

Get MN Daily NEWS delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday!


Vance VomBaur goes from injury to victory

Vance VomBaur consistently failed before he finally reached an NCAA All-American title.
Image by Brad Rempel (courtesy)
Vance VomBaur walked away with his first NCAA All-American title.

Vance VomBaur’s teammates were not supposed to be down on the mat watching him in the blood round at the 2024 NCAA wrestling tournament. He did not know how some of them even got there.

The feeling he had when he ran off the mat to his teammates after he defeated Josh Edmond from the University of Missouri, 8-5 in overtime, is one he said he will remember forever. VomBaur walked away from the mat as an NCAA All-American in the 141-pound weight class with a bloody mouth to prove it.

At the start of the season, VomBaur’s chances of being among the top eight wrestlers in the nation were minuscule. He underwent shoulder surgery and rehab entering the season before falling short in the finals to Gavin Drexler of North Dakota State University (NDSU) at the Bison Open, the Gophers’ season-opening tournament.

After the match, VomBaur said he called his dad – who offered words of encouragement – but VomBaur was more afraid of what his coaches were going to say.

“I thought they were going to be mad that I had just lost it to someone I should have beat,” VomBaur said. “They weren’t.”

VomBaur said his coaches understood the Bison Open was his first time competing in over six months and they offered their support.

VomBaur continued to face adversity throughout the season. He had to get surgery on his knee and missed the Cougar Clash and NDSU dual meet. He was in rehab for both his shoulder and knee.

When VomBaur was going through his recovery, he said he needed something to take his mind off wrestling. He played basketball and went ice fishing for the first time, but nothing was as fun for him and his teammates as frisbee golf.

“We’re kind of addicted to it,” VomBaur said. “It’s a stupid little thing but we do a lot of it.”

VomBaur entered the Big Ten season coming off a third-place finish at the Soldier Salute in Coralville, Iowa but went on to lose his first three conference matches. 

Gophers head assistant coach Luke Becker said conversations with VomBaur focused a lot on believing in oneself regardless of what position he was in on the mat. 

“No matter what you do, you got to believe in it,” Becker said.

Gophers head coach Brandon Eggum said VomBaur was not used to running out under the lights in the singlet, which he added, contributed to the adversity VomBaur faced because this season was his first experience with that.

“There’s some advantages of getting that opportunity,” Eggum said “There wouldn’t be just one thing with adversity.”

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when believing in oneself is to win a match, according to Becker. 

Becker said “it finally clicked” for VomBaur after he won the seventh-place title at the Big Ten Tournament.

“When he won that match, he came off and I can tell he wasn’t thinking out there, he was just wrestling,” Becker said.

VomBaur said he had an army of supporters who believed in him from his first day back on the mat to when he clinched his All-American status.

His teammate Isaiah Salazar was Minnesota’s only other NCAA All-American. Salazar wrestled with VomBaur at Windsor High School in Colorado and had been with him through several injuries throughout his career.

Salazar said he knew VomBaur’s efforts would eventually pay off, knowing VomBaur’s work ethic.

“I was probably happier for him than I was for me,” Salazar said. “It was just nice to see it finally all come together.”

Windsor boys’ wrestling coach Monte Trusty said VomBaur was a “goofball,” but once he stepped on the mat, he was a competitor.

“He just goes man,” Trusty said. “He just goes and he’ll never stop.”

When VomBaur was a freshman in high school, Trusty said he failed in the state finals match on a locking hands call in the third period. The following year, an injury prevented him from competing at the regional tournament, so he could not compete at the Colorado state tournament.

Trusty’s support never faltered, though. In the following two years, VomBaur went on to become a two-time state champion.

To this day, Trusty said he supports his alumni wrestlers. He added he watches every wrestler he has coached compete at the college level and has yet to miss a match, going as far as traveling to watch VomBaur and Salazar compete in the 2024 NCAA wrestling championships at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo.

When Trusty can not make it in person, he said he offers his words of encouragement to his former wrestlers before each match.

“Every match through the entire year I send them a text, whether they like it or not,” Trusty said.

With the college wrestling season now over, VomBaur said he has an added bit of confidence heading into the offseason but refuses to forget about any of the losses that occurred throughout the season.

Several of the matches he lost at the NCAA tournament were close, and he said all of the dropped matches kept him up at night.

“I understand [the matches] were close because I’m almost there,” VomBaur said. “I could be the guy next year.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Accessibility Toolbar

Comments (0)

All The Minnesota Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *