Mar 1991: NCAA champs; Alger sings

3/10/91
Solid week of training.

Dominated Pablo but gave up some stupid stuff--a 3-point headlock toss, a 2-point roll from my front headlock. Good and tight on my front headlocks.

Did not do so well against Griffin. Giving away too much, especially on the feet, but also on mat. Must make good shots, defend better, finish.

Also wrestled with Barry (scored a few points), Hendricks, McCain, and Ehlen, all of whom I handled, but I've been a little slow starting.

Today I wrestled three matches with Zaputil, and he beat me two out of three. I must keep him away from head/tie situation--he is much too strong there.

3/11/91
I have my picture in "Sports Illustrated" this week. Some story about wrestlers getting herpes; I'm shown mopping the Iowa mats.

3/13/91
Went live vs Ehlen today. 23-9, 10-3. Very tired. He felt big and fairly strong. I basically wore him down and kept plugging.

NCAAs are this weekend. They're here in Iowa City. An NCAA team title doesn't mean that much to me personally, since I'm not directly involved, but I'm still excited about it. It would be nice to be a part of it. I've been here for 4 years without being part of a national championship team. It kind of revives those old feelings that I had when I first came here--that this place is the center of the universe, and the entire galaxy revolves around the 3-acre plot of land upon which Carver-Hawkeye Arena sits.

3/17/91
We won the NCAAs at last.

There were huge crowds for every session, and Carver Hawkeye was sold out for the finals--15,000.

Only Tom Brands and Mark Reiland won in the finals. Zaputil got killed by Prescott from Penn State, Terry got out-wrestled 10-5 by Kelber from Nebraska, and Steiner and Ryan both lost by 1 point.

At 118, Akin from Iowa State (who beat me 3-2 at Northern Open, and whom I placed ahead of at UNI Open) took 8th. Tyree from UNI, who was 7th at freestyle Nationals last year and whom I beat at UNI Open, went 2-2. Higa from Cal-State Bakersfield, whom I beat at freestyle Nationals in '89, was seeded 10th but didn't place.

The mood afterwards was much more somber than celebratory. Jenny and I sat next to Hunter Rawlings (University of Iowa president) for the finals. She talked to him about John Irving and what a good storyteller he is. Hunter said he's had John over for dinner when he was in town and he's a nice guy.

After the finals we went to a small team gathering at the Canterbury Inn, where the team stayed during the tournament. I rode over with Barry, Gable, Tom Brands, Reiland, Chelesvig, Fiser, and Alger in a team station wagon.

On the way we saw some guy walking along the side of the road with a crutch. Barry said, "Hey, that's Pack Rat, that crazy guy." Barry yelled at him to do some push-ups and the guy tossed down his crutch and started doing push-ups at the side of the road.

Gable was in the front passenger seat and was telling Barry, "No, no, shhhh, don't say nothing to him, shhh, he might come over here!"

Meanwhile, Barry had rolled down his window and was hanging halfway out of it yelling, "Come on, Pack Rat, hit some push-ups! Come on, buddy!" Then when the light turned green and we passed him he caught a glimpse of Gable's face in the passenger seat and just kind of stared at him in awe--probably trying to figure out if it was really Gable.

After the Canterbury we all went out to the Westfield Inn for the Hawk Party, which was open to fans. It was packed. Gable had lost most of his voice, but he got up onstage with the team members and had each one of them speak. The crowd was really good to them, especially to Terry Brands.

Gable was in a great mood. It must be a great feeling of satisfaction and relief to win the NCAAs after 4 dry years.

Then Royce Alger came up on stage and dominated the event by recalling his own two national titles and singing "Teenager in Love" and "You Picked Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille" in his slightly off-key psuedo-country twang. What an a--hole.

That was followed by Mrs. Steiner singing a song she wrote about wrestlers, sung to the tune of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman." ("I am strong. I am invincible. I am wrestler.")

By that point it had become so hokey that I decided to stop being a snob and just roll with it. The Gable girls and a few Mat Aides, along with Terry Steiner's girlfriend (dressed as Tina Turner) danced to "Simply the Best" and "La Bamba," then the crowd began dancing and that was about the whole show. The final song of the night was, of course, the Iowa Fight Song.

There are things I really like about this place, I must be honest. The NCAAs psyched me up for wrestling. I was thinking about what would happen if I got accepted to Harvard or Yale for grad school in the fall. Things have been so good for me here in Iowa that I would have mixed emotions about leaving. Next season is going to be a very good one. We have the potential to break all the records, since the entire starting lineup is back.

And I wouldn't mind having another year to get myself together and push for the Olympic Trials. I'm not sure I'm ready for my wrestling career to be over in seven weeks. I know I'm not ready for it.

And on the other hand, good timing means knowing when to move on as well as when to stay. If the time to move on is '91 I have to be ready. If it's '92 I have to be prepared for that too. It's just that placing 8th at Nationals seemed so cool a couple of years ago, and now it doesn't seem so cool at all. I want to keep progressing, and I like being a part of what's happening here (even the hokey Hawk parties).

3/22/91
Decent training week with a variety of partners.

Mon: Live vs Jeff McGinness, an Iowa high school stud. 20-5, 15-0, 12-0. I was not hitting good shots, letting him in on my legs too much and wasting too much time passively tied up. I was good on turns. Afterwards he went into the locker room and was all pissed off. I like his intensity, but it annoyed me that he thought he was going to beat me...that just makes me want to beat the crap out of him even more next time.

Tue: I ran with the club guys (Barry, Griffin, Royce) plus McGinness upstairs in the arena in the morning. 8-lap run (1st), 5 x 1-laps (1st all except once, behind Barry), 5 stair sprints. Good workout, very winded. Afternoon weights and drilled with Barry.

Wed: Live with Barry. Did okay until he turned it on.

Thu: Morning arena runs. Afternoon live vs. a 145-pounder I didn't know. Missed a front headlock on 2nd go, let him get in on legs a couple of times.

Fri: Sauna/jumprope with Barry in morning, down to 127.7. Afternoon, rolled around with Barry and sauna. Down to 125.2.

I'm wrestling at Tri-State Freestyle Championships in Ft. Madison tomorrow. I considered going down to 114.5 but it was just to big a drop right now.

3/24/91
I'm at Great Midwestern Ice Cream Company with Jenny. I'm doing Stats homework while she does some stuff for work.

Yesterday I won the Tri-State Freestyle Championships. I'm a 3-time champ. I beat Hogan 5-4. Not a great match, but I led the whole time. I need to score more on top. It was good to beat him since he beat me at the Midwestern Championships in January.

Then I beat Brett Christiansen from Buena Vista 18-4. I was a little worried about him because he's a Division III All-American and Hogan only beat him 12-11. But I overpowered him and out-slicked him. Much better than my match against Hogan.

I'm gaining confidence. If I can get my weight down to low 120s after practice (I was 127.5 today) and wrestle well at Nationals I will have a very good shot at placing. If I get a good pairing that separates me from the top couple of guys I will be in even better shape.

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