One of the toughest things Kyle Schlauch ever did in his life was step into the jungle and wrestle for the Washougal Panthers.
“I had a rough start as a freshman, but my coaches told me to never hang my head and never give up,” said the 2008 Washougal High School graduate. “I never encountered anything harder than I did in that wrestling room. It was all about pushing yourself farther than you thought you could go.”
Lessons the 22-year-old learned as a Washougal wrestler gave him the courage apply to the United States Military Academy, and leave family and friends for West Point, N.Y., after high school. It also invigorated him with tenacity and determination to overcome any obstacle that stood in his way.
“Never discount that anything is impossible,” Schlauch said. “I knew the odds of getting into West Point were slim, but I was going to try for it anyway. If so many people could do it, I could do it too. Never count yourself out.”
Several mentors kept Schlauch on the right path during his time at West Point. One of them was LTC Hector Morales, the head coach of the academy’s Judo team. Schlauch captured a gold medal in 2010 and a bronze medal in 2011 from the Collegiate National Judo Championships. He also helped West Point become three-time National Champions.
“Judo is so different than wrestling. The only same thing was the aggressiveness I always had,” Schlauch said. “In wrestling, you get more times to take the guy down. But in Judo, you only get one shot. It’s about patience.You have to wait a long time for that perfect shot. Once you see an opening, you have to hit the shot without hesitation.”
Schlauch never hesitated. Like his wrestling days, he seized every opportunity to excel in the classroom and get his hand raised on the mat.
On May 26, Schlauch graduated from the USMA with a Russian and German languages degree and earned the ranking of second lieutenant.
“It was really cool to see the culmination of the last four years,” he said. “At West Point, I was able to mesh what I could do with how the Army works. I learned a lot about myself, how to take care of myself and how to interact with people. I’m going to be in the Army for a long while. These skills are going to be critical in everything I do.”
Schlauch is currently stationed in Fort Leonard Wood, Miss. Once he completes his training in December, Schlauch said he will transfer to Fort Riley, Kan., where he will remain for the foreseeable future.
Schlauch looks forward to spending more time with is wife Alexandra. They were married on May 27, at the West Point Chapel.