Perfect marriage for Inman, FHSU

Jonathan Inman

By Diane Gasper-O'Brien
University Relations and Marketing

Update: Inman did indeed reach his goal of getting to the second day, thus earning All-America honors for the first time. He won his first two matches of the tournament en route to a fifth-place finish at 184 pounds and finished the season with an overall record of 38-4. For more about the tournament, go to

HAYS, Kan -- The coming week is going to be a busy one for Jonathan Inman, and it's not because he is taking off for vacation land during spring break like a lot of college students.

Inman, a Fort Hays State University junior, will begin his quest for All-America honors today. The sixth-ranked 184-pound wrestler in NCAA Division II, Inman is 35-2 this season and is competing at the national tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., Friday and Saturday.

While that might seem like the most exciting event of this school year for Inman - and at least this week - it isn't.

A week after hopefully garnering that elusive All-America honor and getting to climb the steps of the awards stand, Inman will take an even bigger step. He and his fiancée, FHSU junior Breanna Tendick from Bonner Springs, will be married March 18 in Kansas City, Kan.

Then the newlyweds will return to Fort Hays State to finish out the school year and live happily ever after in Hays, for another year at least, while Jonathan completes his degree in criminal justice and Breanna finishes hers in social work.

Funny how first impressions can change over time. Inman wasn't sure as a teenager he would like living on the plains of western Kansas for four years. After all, he grew up in the Ozark Mountains in Branson, Mo.

"Branson was a small town with a big-town feel," Inman said. "The lake was right there to fish in, and it had all the nice places to eat. It was a super place to live, a great place to grow up."

Inman was a four-time state qualifier in wrestling in high school but flew under the radar because of a couple of other standouts in his weight class, and there were no big-name programs that came calling.

An FHSU graduate, Dustin Martin, happened to be coaching youth wrestling nearby and liked what he saw in Inman and told Tiger Coach Chas Thompson about him. It didn't take Thompson long to contact Inman.

"Besides being a quality wrestler, he was a 4.0 student with a 29 ACT," Thompson said. "I thought he would be a perfect fit for our program."

Inman wasn't as convinced at first. He had wrestled in Hays in some freestyle tournaments and wasn't so impressed with the location. But he thought he'd at least give FHSU a look following a recruiting trip to Colorado Mesa University.

Mesa is situated in another picturesque mountainous setting, on the western slope of the Rockies in Grand Junction. Inman said he loved the campus - the price tag to attend there, not so much.

Hays didn't seem so bad after all, especially once he set foot on campus.

"It was 30,000 (dollars) at Mesa, and when I visited Hays, I enjoyed the campus, and it was a great value for a great education," Inman said.

Inman signed with FHSU before his senior year in high school. Good thing for the Tigers. He went on to win the 182-pound state championship his senior year, and other college coaches started to take notice.

"Even that summer before he came to Fort Hays State, I had some coaches come up to me at some tournaments and ask where (Inman) had been hiding, if he had signed with a school yet," Thompson said.

Oh, yeah, Thompson thought. He's a Tiger.

So Jerry and Lynn Inman packed up their only child and sent him seven and a half hours to the northwest, and their son couldn't be happier about his decision.

"I had thought I didn't want to go to the middle of nowhere; that's the stereotype about Hays," Inman said. "But Hays, and Fort Hays State, is about so much more than location. It's about the people."

Inman continued to excel on the mat, and he met his wife-to-be his freshman year. The rest, like they say, is history.

Inman has hopes of making some history of his own this weekend. With his parents and fiancée cheering him on, he would like nothing better than to win an All-American trophy to bring home. He came within one victory of achieving that last year at nationals.

The top eight finishers in each weight class achieve All-America status.

"Make it to the second day," Inman said. "That's the goal."

If not, there's still next year.

In fact, Inman has become so attached to Hays - and Fort Hays State - that he said he and fiancée are considering sticking around after graduating next spring. Both Jonathan and Breanna are checking out graduate programs at FHSU.

"I have a really good friend base here, and that's what makes someplace your home," Inman said. "My friends are what's keeping me here. I love Hays."

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