One wrestler on this year’s Utah Valley University wrestling team with an interesting story is Blake Mangum.
Mangum, a redshirt freshman, is listed at 125 but has also competed at 133. After winning
a state title and earning All-American status at Wasatch High School, Mangum redshirted at the University of Oklahoma, one of the top programs in the country.
After his first year, Mangum traded in his singlet for a suit with a black name tag. He was called to serve a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil. When he returned, Mangum considered returning to Oklahoma or going to Boise State. But he opted for UVU.
“I wanted to stay closer to home,” Mangum said in an interview with Garrett Coleman of the UVU Review. “I hadn’t been home for about four years, and wanted to be close to my family and friends. There’s a lot of kids that I know on the team. I get along with the team here really well.”
Another returned missionary is wrestling at Boise State, however. Brent Chriswell, a redshirt junior, wrestles 197 for the Broncos. The road he took to Boise is also an interesting one.
After a decorated high school career at South Kitsap in Washington, he was recruited to Purdue. He redshirted his first year and transferred when the coach resigned. He moved on to Arizona State and won a PAC-10 title, but was forced to leave when the Sun Devils dropped their program.
At that point he opted to serve a mission and was called to Las Vegas, Nev. Following his mission, he landed in Idaho. His new mission? Find a wife.
“That’s my No. 1 goal right now,” he told Jeff Graham, a reporter with the Kitsap Sun.
FInally, an article in RantSports.com recently highlighted former University of Utah star Sione Pouha, a defensive lineman for the New York Jets. Considered one of the top nose tackles in the NFL over the last few years, the article said signing Pouha to a new contract is a high priority.
“He’s the Jets’ top priority this offseason, and it’s unlikely they would place the franchise tag on him, which would pay him $7.9 million on a one-year deal if they did,” wrote columnist Jon Presser.
Pouha served an LDS mission in Pennsylvania. This New York Times article talks about some of his mission experiences.