May 1988: First win at freestyle nationals

I'm in bed in my hotel room in Reno. I won 1 and lost 1 at Nationals before withdrawing with a strained knee ligament.

Here's the thing: after two matches I was in the final 10 in my pool; 17 of the 33 competitors were out after 2 rounds. With a good draw and a little more talent next year I can be there.

My goal this year was to win 2. Well, I lost the first one 10-7 to Carl Stanley from Navy. I won the second match by pin over a guy named David Lucero, who was a multi-time state champ from Utah. So even though I didn't achieve the goal, I definitely came closer than last year, when I was tech-falled twice.

I wrestled fairly well. Kevin Dresser was my corner man, and he told me after winning the second match that it was the best he'd ever seen me wrestle. Both guys were Greco guys--Stanley took 4th at Greco Nationals last year, so I wish I'd wrestled more lower-body stuff against him like I did against the second guy.

I'm rooming with Mike Hruska, a 158-pounder. I didn't know him much before this trip.

I asked out a girl named Gwen from my Literature class. She gave me a ride to the arena after class, where we sat in her car and talked for almost an hour. She said she's in the process of breaking up with someone and wants to go slowly. Which means she's on the rebound and wants immediate emotional reassurance.

It's 10:30pm and I'm in the locker room at the arena. I'm going to mop the mats and maybe hit some weights.

I'm flying to Ohio tomorrow for the final Olympic Trials Qualifier. A few months ago I didn't think I had a shot at it, but now I think otherwise. I think I can make it to Topeka.

I got accepted to the Masters program in History at Iowa. Must not be that hard to get in, right?

I haven't seen Linda in over 2 weeks.

I just got back from Ohio today. I got hurt in the first match. I think I could've beaten the guy.

I'm beginning to get impatient. I want to be better than I am. I keep getting hurt.

I want to move out of the Heff House, this pig-sty frat house. The mood has changed. There was such a sense of cameraderie a few months ago--everyone getting up in the mornings for the 7am pactices. Now I hardly ever see Heff or Brooks. I seem to be taking on the image of the reclusive, balding intellectual.

I've got to stay focused on wrestling. I've got to stay sharp. Maybe it's because I wasn't sharp that I got hurt in the last 3 tourneys in a row.

I think I made the decision to move to Iowa because I was unhappy with my life. There's nothing wrong with seeking a change, but I think it's wrong to run from one's problems. I still can't decide if I was running from my problems or confronting them.

Summer is almost here. I'm sitting on the front steps of the Heff House. Everything is turning green.

I survived my first season at Iowa.

I took a week off after the Ohio tournament. I'm anxious to get back to it. If I can make some great strides over the summer I'll be right in there. I need to be able to go even with Martin, the Brands, and Regan, as well as the new guys.

I went out with Linda the other night. We got some wine coolers and sat down by the river and talked.

I signed a lease on a 2BR apartment right across the street from the arena. I'll move in July.

Gwen called me today at the arena. I was watching Randy Lewis videos in the wrestling office. She said she got back together with her boyfriend, or "decided to make it work," or some such BS.

Linda isn't going to last either.

Wrestling camps start in 3 weeks, so I've got 3 weeks to fill.

The Heff House is desolate. Everyone's gone except me and Carpenter. He might have left today. The whole place is trashed out. It'll be full of fruit flies and cockroaches before anyone comes back.

The wrestling room is deserted. Everyone is in Topeka for the Olympic Trials. I guess it wouldn't have mattered if I'd qualified--my rib is still f---ed up.

I went downtown and met a cute girl tonight, named Julie. (A different Julie.) Very cute. I walked by her and said, "You have a nice smile." She said, "Thank you," and I kept walking. That was our first meeting. Later I went back and got her number. I am so f---ing cool.

I drilled a little on the takedown machine today for the first time in awhile. I feel pretty good. My rib is getting better. I think I'm learning things from watching the videos. Or maybe I'm learning things in my sleep. I just feel smarter. I feel quick.

It's just after midnight. The Heff House is completely empty except for my little bedroom. Even the TV in the living room is gone. Brooks is still around but he's living across the street. We didn't pay the electric bill, so I'm surprised the power is still on. They were supposed to shut it off today. So I've got to live in this pit, alone and without electricity, for the entire month of June.

The power was turned off when I got home late last night. This morning I cleaned out the refrigerator. I had lunch with that girl Julie, but it wasn't real exciting. She's 20, from Ames, in a sorority, and she's into "tanning." She wanted to eat at 2:30 instead of 12:30 so she could tan.

So, okay...not a love connection.

I just got off the phone with Linda. I think her main problem, quite fankly, is that she's stupid. She put pictures of me up on her wall next to pictures of some wrestler from NY whom she's going out to NY to see, and she doesn't understand why that might annoy me.

Last night I drove up to Lisbon with Royce, Lewboo, Rico, Greg Randall, and Penrith. There was a party up there. It wasn't too good, so we came back to Iowa City, but it was already midnight (on Sunday) and everything was closing up.

Lewboo told me a story about walking into a room where Jeff Kerber and a girl were asleep naked on the bed. I can't tell the rest of the story, but the last line is that the girl thought he was Kerber. That's one of his milder stories.

I went out with Linda last night, and she got so drunk that she started saying, "You're too nice for me, you really are." What do women mean by that, anyway? Then she asked me who else in Iowa City I was interested in, and I (stupidly) mentioned that I'd taken that girl Julie to lunch, and she said, "You were DATING someone else?!" I said, "Well at least I didn't hang her f---ing picture on the wall next to yours."

Then she started babbling about her infatuation with Randy Lewis.

In the morning she claimed she didn't remember anything from the night before, so I decided to keep the information to myself. We went to some little town and ate pork tenderloins on an old bridge and played with some dogs.

So that relationship ended well, all things considered. And life goes on.

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