Jan. 28, 2010

By Gary Brown
Champion Magazine

Chris Dahlheimer has an unusual career track. If he tells you what he’s going to do, he’ll have to kill you.

OK, so that’s an exaggeration. But go ahead, ask him.

“Well, I can’t tell you too much about it,” he’ll say.

Here’s what we do know about the senior wrestler at Lycoming: As a student, Dahlheimer has an almost perfect grade-point average in computer science. He’s a coaches association all-academic selection and a member of a Lycoming squad that had the eighth-best collective grade-point average in Division III last year.

As an athlete, the 6-foot-2-inch Dahlheimer is just as accomplished, having finished seventh in the 165-pound class at the 2009 Division III Wrestling Championships after nearly beating the top seed in the bracket. He was 15-1 in 2007-08, 24-4 last year and 13-1 already this season heading into January.

And as for that career thing, he wants to follow his father and his grandfather as a government contractor with the National Security Agency. As for specifics, well, that’s where it gets sticky. He’ll probably write some code, help develop software and perform a little maintenance on already established systems, but he won’t disclose much more than that.

He’s already acquired a government security clearance from his father’s firm, and he interned last summer as a software engineer with Praxis Engineering, a software and systems engineering firm in Annapolis Junction, Maryland.

“I’ve always been interested in computers,” Dahlheimer says. “I don’t see them going away any time soon.”

Dahlheimer’s wrestling opponents might wish he would go away soon. The Felton, Pennsylvania, native has been on the mat “pretty much from birth,” he says, citing his father’s influence as a high school coach in Maryland.

Dahlheimer says he likes the individual aspect of the sport, the skill required and the techniques learned over time.

“It’s not a team sport. You can’t blame anyone else for your mistakes,” he says. “It’s just you against one other person. The sport offers a mix of brute physical ability and technical strategy, almost methodical at times.”

Dahlheimer is one of more than 400 student-athletes at Lycoming, located in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home of the Little League World Series. About 30 percent of the student body participates in one of Lycoming’s 17 varsity sports. “All the teams are pretty tightknit, both within their own teams and with each other,” Dahlheimer says.

With Pennsylvania a hotbed for Division II schools, Dahlheimer says he considered choosing Division II but wanted a smaller institution. Williamsport also is only a couple of hours from his hometown, just the right distance, he says, for being independent without being detached. His only sibling, brother Keith, is a freshman this year at Shippensburg.

“But I also was attracted to the wrestling program at Lycoming,” Dahlheimer says. “I wanted to be part of something that had a good tradition and a bright future.”

Dahlheimer is now part of that future – and a unique part, at that.

“You don’t see too many 6-2 wrestlers,” he said. “Especially ones who major in computer science.”