My Sophomore year at Iowa we took second at the National Tournament and as a team we struggled a bit throughout the year. I was the starting 158 lber that year and was having a season with some ups and downs. My biggest weakness was the bottom position and it caught up to me one night in Minneapolis.
We went on the road to wrestle U of Minnesota and we lost the dual. I lost a match in that dual because I couldn’t get out from the bottom position.
MY BIGGEST WEAKNESS
WAS THE BOTTOM POSITION AND IT CAUGHT UP TO ME
Coach Gable gave us a looong talk on the way home and in my shame of losing that night I stood in front of the team and said I would never lose a match again because I couldn’t get out from the bottom.
Well, the damage was done and when we got back the coaches told me they were bringing Joe Williams out of redshirt and we would wrestle off that week. We wrestled off and I lost. I was devastated, Lincoln McIlravy was at the weight class below and things weren’t looking good.
Even though I wasn’t in a good spot I still had my eyes set on being an All-American, so I dropped two weight classes to 142, made the team and ended up gaining All-American honors that year. I feel that if my bottom wrestling was better I wouldn’t have been in that position and I would have gotten the job done at a more natural weight class that year.
The devastating effects of not being prepared in the bottom position popped up again my senior year. I had my sights set on winning a National Title before I left Iowa but I had two defending NCAA Champs in my weight class. I wrestled one of them, Mark Branch, in January and lost by Major Decision because of my inability to get away from him. The last month of the season Jimmy Zalesky taught me some rock solid strategies for staying out of and clearing legs and Coach Gable put everyone we had in the room that ever threw a leg on top of me. He would have them shark me and at first it WAS NOT FUN.
By the time the Big Ten’s rolled around NOBODY could ride me more than a couple seconds. After my Sophomore year experience I had developed a great Stand-up Series and NOW nobody could ride me with legs. I had so much confidence in my bottom position that I felt invincible. The rest is history, I went on to beat both of the defending National Champs at the NCAA’s and won the National Title. Without the setbacks and hard times that motivated me to master the bottom position I wouldn’t have won the NCAA’s my Senior year.