Kevin's Commentary: Brandon Tribble

Kevin's Commentary is presented by US Bank.

Brandon Tribble has always taken on more than expected.

He was a walk-on to the Wyoming wrestling program, and paid his own way his redshirt year.  He wrestled at 197 pounds for the Pokes. But to help his team he agreed to move up to heavyweight (285), an unconventional move with obvious challenges. He didn’t even start wrestling until he was a sophomore in high school, so he was way late getting into the sport.

But that only scratches the surface of what this young man is all about.

While he is graduating this spring with a degree in communications, he’s doing something even more impactful for his country.

In addition to his graduation, he also will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army on May 13 through UW’s Army ROTC program.

“My family has a long history of military service,” Tribble says, “especially on my mother’s (Carmen) side.  My mom is retired from the Air Force, and my grandfather (Tommy) served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.  I’m proud to carry on the tradition, and they are very proud of me.”

Carmen actually ran track at Colorado State and Tribble’s aunt, Santiaga Whilloughby, also ran track but at the Air Force Academy.  While his hometown is Colorado Springs, Tribble was born at an Air Force base in Hampton, Va.

When he chose Wyoming, and decided to walk on to the wrestling program, a military career was really farthest from Tribble’s mind.

“The Army sort of picked me,” he says. “I had always thought about it, but after talking with some folks in the program I became more interested.  I was hesitant at first because I came to Wyoming to wrestle and I knew athletics and academics would be enough of a commitment. But Coach Branch was very supportive, and told me to ‘go for it’.”

As a matter of fact it wasn’t an athletic scholarship that has paid the bulk of Tribble’s way through school. It has been a full-ride ROTC scholarship. That is until this season, when Branch awarded him a scholarship for his senior year. “I was very surprised when he told me, but so appreciative. It tells you what Coach Branch is all about.”

“The thing about Brandon is that he took all the risk in coming here,” says Head Coach Mark Branch.  “He literally got here and it was time for school to start.  We had nothing to offer him at that point but an opportunity.  That’s why we felt really good about finally being able to put him on scholarship.  He worked his way into helping us a lot.”

Branch says that Tribble’s move from 197 to heavyweight was rare especially in just one year. “Brandon’s move to heavyweight was very beneficial to the team,” he says.  “It’s usually something you don’t do in just a year.  It takes more time.  But he worked at it, and it has been the best move for our team.  He was directly responsible for our win over Iowa State.  It was his match that won it for us.”

Tribble speaks proudly of being selected for active duty-- a seven-year commitment-- as an ordinance officer. “I’m mainly involved in logistics and maintenance. In that area I could have chosen several different levels, light infantry (weapons systems), striker combat (wheeled vehicles) or heavy (armor) and I chose heavy…tanks and heavy equipment. Those officers are needed around the world so I’m excited to find out where I’ll be going.”  He will find out his destination in March.

The only destination he knows now is that when he graduates he will go to school for four months at a base in Virginia. He’s undecided what he will do once his seven-year commitment is completed.  What happens after that is to be determined, he says.

Oh, and by the way, on top of everything else he and his fiancée, former Cowgirl volleyball player Mikaela Ryshytylo, are planning a June 24th wedding.   They will be married in Canada, her home country.

Tribble began his collegiate career as a wrestler at Western State College (Gunnison, Colorado). After one season there he determined it wasn’t a fit for him.  He was going to work out for a year at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where his family makes their home, and take a few classes at a local community college.  While working out some people began talking to him about Wyoming.  He decided to check it out, ended up with a recruiting visit. He decided this was the place, and walked on to be a Cowboy.

“I certainly had to learn how to manage my time, to juggle competitive athletics, academics and ROTC,” he says. “There were times when I didn’t think I could do it, but I’m glad I hung in there.  Everyone has been so supportive and I’m thankful for that.  I wouldn’t trade any of it.

He has been a fixture on Big 12 and Western Wrestling Conference All-Academic teams his entire Wyoming career.  On the mat he has compiled a 35-31 record at 197 pounds.  He has produced a 9-13 mark as an underweight heavyweight. 

“Wrestling and ROTC have taught me to be a man, taught me structure, discipline, focus and how to be accountable.   As Coach Branch always says ‘chase greatness’, and those are the words I try to live by. I have not been as successful on the mat as I wanted to be, but I’ve cherished the experience.  I love my teammates.  My fondest memories of Wyoming will be my time with them. There is so much respect among us.  Coming here was the best decision I ever made.” 

What a guy. Brandon, all of us thank you for your commitment!