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Student Spotlight: Dakota DesLauriers

His grandfather, Edward “Frenchy” DesLauriers, started the wrestling program at Burrell High School in the late 1970s. Dakota’s father Shawn and uncles Ryan and Joel DesLauriers (Burrell’s first state champion) were all accomplished wrestlers, and encouraged him to begin his career at six years old.

So it comes as no surprise that the Burrell High School senior has been courted by wrestling programs at several universities, including Virginia Tech, Arizona State University and American University. But Dakota has chosen to stay a little closer to home, and will attend Mercyhurst University in Erie this fall on a full scholarship.

“I just really like Mercyhurst,” he says. “I competed in a wrestling tournament there when I was in sixth grade, and I got to see the campus then. Plus, a lot of my past teammates are at Mercyhurst now.”

Dakota says Mercyhurst’s size is a more comfortable fit for him than some of the larger schools that made him offers. “I won’t get lost there, and I think I can really succeed academically,” says Dakota, who plans on majoring in Business.

“I think he will really excel at Mercyhurst,” adds Bud Sines, Burrell’s head wrestling coach, “on and off the mat.”

“Dakota is one of the nicest kids you’d ever meet – it’s hard to believe someone so nice competes with so much intensity,” he says. “Dakota is very humble, and very coachable. You can make suggestions to him and he’ll incorporate those suggestions into his wrestling. Kids like him define why you coach.”

Coach Sines has worked with Dakota for the past two years, and has seen him overcome injuries and illnesses to succeed. The 182-pound wrestler gruesomely dislocated his elbow during the first moments of a tournament in North Dakota last year. He missed the first half of last season as he recuperated, but finished his junior year by helping the wrestling team secure the WPIAL championship trophy – the sixth consecutive win for Burrell.

Dakota also won the POWERade Wrestling Tournament as a junior and senior, and has three county titles under his belt, in addition to various other accolades. He coaches youth wrestling, and is a member of Burrell’s rugby team. His philosophy for wrestling is pretty straightforward: “Stay focused. Go back and look at your mistakes and learn from them. Train hard, and keep your head up.”

That philosophy will serve him well at Mercyhurst, and in life.

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