After an impressive pre-season, Teton High School sophomore and wrestler Ryker Fullmer is chomping at the bit to get back on the mat this season.

Fullmer recently traveled to Iowa and scored an impressive fourth place finish at the Brian Keck Memorial, a national, invitation-only tournament held in Des Moines.

Fullmer wrestled against competition from Illinois, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida during the tournament, which had 40 competitors.

“Every kid that I wrestled was my level, really strong, you’re not there if you’re not good,” said Fullmer. “It felt great to get back on the mat and still know I’m there, my ability to wrestle and all my strengths were still there.”

Fullmer hopes to parlay that success into this upcoming high school season, looking to make up for a horribly timed injury at last season’s state tournament.

Fullmer suffered a broken collarbone in the state semifinals, an injury he still doesn’t like to talk about.

“It really sucked, but my biggest thing was in my downtime, I had a lot building me back up to get back on the mat,” said Fullmer.

He said the injury healed without any snags, and his recovery went as well as it could go.

“I got back quick, my surgery went well, as soon as I got back I was in the room every day,” said Fullmer. “It for sure fueled the fire for me this year.”

Fullmer will also be jumping up a weight class this season, moving into the 160-pound class after competing at 145 and 138 pounds last year. He attributed the change to a natural gain of strength during the off-season.

“I’m really just looking forward to being stronger and not sucking a whole lot of weight,” said Fullmer.

THS wrestling coach Jeff Wilkes agreed with Fullmer and is looking forward to seeing that increase in strength.

“Ryker just naturally gained a bit of weight working out and getting stronger which is great and I think it will be seamless,” said Wilkes.

Wilkes has also seen Fullmer’s increased motivation, and the goals the wrestler has put on himself.

“He only lost four matches last year and didn’t end the season the way he wanted with a broken collarbone in state semis,” said Wilkes. “He’s definitely looking to get back there and accomplish things this year that he didn’t quite accomplish last year.”

Fullmer’s main goal is to go undefeated, collecting tournament championships all along the way.

Fullmer was only four matches away from doing so last season, where he won four of the five tournaments he entered. The only one that eluded him was state.

“I’m looking to win all my tournaments, especially Tiger-Grizz, and to win state,” said Fullmer. “My goal for the season is to go undefeated.”

To do so will, of course, require some extra commitment. Wilkes himself has been very impressed with Fullmer in this regard, identifying him as a leader in the team.

“When you go into a preseason tournament like that in Iowa, it says a lot about the time and effort you put in,” said Wilkes. “His parents have taken him wherever they can to get him some more matches.”

Fullmer’s father, James, is also an assistant coach with the THS wrestling program. That proximity to quality coaching is a feather in Ryker’s cap, constantly improving his overall skills.

“They [Ryker’s parents] are always pushing him, he has a club coach that is always supporting him, and there’s also another Idaho/USA coach that’s pushing him and making him better,” said Wilkes. “Ryker’s getting all this training advice and coaching and seeing different guys to wrestle with, and It’s just making him a better wrestler overall.”

It can be argued that the athlete-coach partnership matters more in wrestling, a sport played out in individual competition.

The more coaching one gets, the more skills and styles you’re exposed to, and the easier it gets to implement those skills when it matters.

“When it comes to different coaching, you see so many different styles and how they approach it from different coaches and pick up things that you like,” said Wilkes. “You just pick up what you like, and that’s the key with Ryker, he’s picked up so many different things and applied them, used them, and kept that part of his style. That’s why I credit all the extra time he’s put in, it doesn’t just happen.”

Fullmer’s ability to be coachable is easily identifiable as one of his greatest strengths.

“Your coaches, and especially my coaches, they keep me elevated throughout the season through the ups and downs,” said Fullmer. “Everything that we worked on in the wrestling room they help me take it onto the mat. It’s really nice to get a coach that knows how you wrestle, how you want to compete. With my dad as one of my coaches, he really knows how I react and knows when to get on me about dumb stuff and when to just sit back and learn and watch me wrestle.”