Lake Norman wrestler Ryan Devlin is making his championship move
Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014

Lake Norman wrestler Ryan Devlin is making his championship move

Ryan Devlin is a man of few words.

For the past two seasons, the Lake Norman senior’s actions have done all the talking: Devlin is a combined 92-11 going into this year’s postseason.

“I’ve always been really quiet. Not shy, but I just don’t say things unless they need to be said,” Devlin said. “I just try to go out and get it done every day. I don’t need to talk about it.”

Lake Norman coach Tom Pavia said he loves Devlin’s approach.

“Ryan has always had a very business-like approach at practices or in matches,” Pavia said. “He lets his results on the mat speak for themselves. While he has had a lot of success, he is a guy who has never been satisfied, never felt he has completely arrived yet.”

After finishing fourth in the state as a junior at 170 pounds, Devlin, 18, has been even better in his final high school season, going 42-2 (through Feb. 2) in the 182-pound weight class. He also won the North Piedmont Conference title, and the WRAL, Fandetti-Richardson Brawl and Fred T. Foard tournaments this season.

Devlin, at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, said he feels good about his accomplishments to this point but is more focused on what he hasn’t done this year, and the regional and state tournaments.

“I definitely want to be a state champion,” said Devlin, currently ranked No. 2 in North Carolina in 4A at 182 pounds by “I don’t think I will be totally satisfied until I get there. I think about a state championship every day.I have it written down on the wall of my bathroom and I look at every morning.”

Devlin had a slow start to his career, making only five starts as a freshman for a loaded Lake Norman team, stuck behind former Wildcat standout Mike Hayes in the 145-pound weight class.

Devlin improved his sophomore year, notching 35 wins, but failed to make to regionals or states.

One week after his sophomore season ended, Devlin decided he wanted to commit himself to wrestling year round and joined the Arrichion Wrestling Club.

Devlin got a lot of advice, training and motivation from his brother, Patrick, who was two years ahead of him at Lake Norman. They wrestled together for two seasons as Wildcats.

The Devlin brothers often worked out together in practice. The intensity was so high that Ryan said a few workouts ended in fistfights.

“Patrick has been a big part of everything I’ve done on the wrestling mat and is one of the hardest-working guys I know,” Ryan Devlin said. “I’ve not only always wanted to be like him, but be even better.

“But there have definitely been some heated matches between us. A few have definitely ended in fights. But we are still very close and talk all the time.”

Ryan Devlin signed with the Davidson College wrestling team last week, where he will join Patrick.

Ryan Devlin also enjoys wrestling with Pavia, who at 50 years old can still hang with most of the Lake Norman wrestling team.

“I feel like I can still hang with most of these young guys,” said Pavia. “But I can’t really hang with Ryan. He is just too much, too strong and powerful.”

“It’s awesome that he can still get out there and wrestle with us,” Devlin said. “I like wrestling with him and I like beating him, but he beats me too, he’s just not telling you.”

Devlin says he doesn’t look at or care about rankings or anything else like that. He focuses on the wrestler in front of him.

“When it comes down to it, you just have to beat the guy in front of you in that match,” said Devlin, who off the mat has a 4.56 GPA. “My approach has always been to be good at two or three things and stick to my strengths. A lot of people think that is too simple, but that is just my style.”

While Pavia is always trying to help Devlin expand his skills, he said he admires Devlin’s direct approach, noting he “picks his spots well, and when he hits you, he is usually scoring.”

Devlin is hoping for one last run at Lake Norman.

In a Wildcat locker room where teammates like R.J. Cloninger, Chase and Conner Komenik, Eddie McGrail, Logan Pavia, Zac Rainess and Michael Ready have regional and state championship aspirations, he doesn’t have to look far for daily motivation.

Devlin says he loves being a part of the Lake Norman wrestling tradition. The Wildcats were 26-2 going into the dual state tournament.

But after finishing second in the regional and conference tournaments last season, Devlin is looking for individual championships.

He got off to a good start, pinning his way through the NPC tournament to win the league tournament title.

“I remember finishing fourth at state last year, and that was nice,” Devlin said, “but I also remember thinking about how bad I wanted to be on top of that podium. That is what I am working for right now.”

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at

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