Wrestlers grapple to the top


by Will Steingreaber

A wise man once said, “Opportunity is missed by most becauseit’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” For the 2004 Simpsonwrestling squad, an opportunity is all they’ve ever asked for. Nowthey’re taking advantage.

If you haven’t heard the news yet, the Storm grapplers areranked third in the nation, the highest ranking a Simpson wrestlingteam has ever received.


Don’t be, because they certainly aren’t. For them, achievementisn’t a surprise, it’s a payoff.

This season the Storm are a school record 24-4 in dualcompetition. Two wrestlers, junior Clint Manny and sophomore DustinBrewer, are second and seventh, respectively, in the latestnational individual rankings.

Last season both Manny and senior Bart George were namedAll-American after incredible performances at Nationals. This year,says coach Ron Peterson, “Everyone wants to show how good they are.They all want those initials behind their name.” But the Storm knownothing comes free.

It takes a certain arcane discipline to be a wrestler; an almostsadistic self-control to endure weeks of near starvation and inducepractice regimens that seem intensely grotesque to the ignoranteye.

Not everybody is cut out for hours of running in a swelteringgym, wearing multiple layers of clothing and sweating away everyounce of excess. But these guys do it every single day.

It’s about frame of mind, explained coach Peterson.

“We try to make our practices intense-it puts you in the rightmental state. The atmosphere is very upbeat, though. We’re alllooking forward to the conference championships.”

Quent Christensen will likely be the first in line to board thatbus to conference. Christensen, a junior, is riding high onmomentum from last season’s disappointment.

After a very successful sophomore campaign, Christensen didn’tdo as well as he had expected at last season’s championships.

But after an intense off-season of weight lifting and running,he’s returned to the mat with an acute new focus. This seasonChristensen is 22-7, but it’s the success of his teammates that ismaking it all worthwhile.

“It’s an awesome experience to be a part of,” Christensen said.”It’s way more exciting to walk into the gym and watch the headsturn because they know who we are and want to see us. We’re allfeeding off of each other with that competition in practice. I’mloving it.”

The Storm may be working hard and loving it, but they surearen’t sweating because of pressure. Christensen and Manny bothagree that pressure is a non-factor in their equation of success.”We haven’t changed our styles at all,” Christensen claimed. “It’sjust finally all coming together.”

Knowing that the third time’s a charm is keeping Manny stressfree. His only two losses this season were to the same opponent, anopponent who he will have to face again to win it all.

“There’s always a little anxiety, but the pressure’s on him. Hehas to beat me again. We’ve all worked hard, now we have it comingto us,” said Manny.

That rugged effort begins and ends in the weight room, whereManny says Coach Head’s lifting program is making a huge impact ontheir wrestling success.

But the tremendous work ethic that all these wrestler’s shareappears more than pure coincidence, it’s almost genetic.

“We’ve always been a tight knit group,” Manny explained. “We’relike a family, and that’s nice in college because you don’t see ita lot. I think it’s a huge reason for our success.”

Whichever element you attribute to the Storm’s accomplishmentthis season, something seems to be contagious. Bart George, thelone senior on the roster, may know best the key ingredient in arecipe for success. After finishing seventh in the nation lastyear, George is 31-4 this season. Like a wise old veteran, heunderstands that cohesion and achievement revolve around the sameideal-focus.

“It’s so easy to slack off and think about other things, buteveryone is stepping up and leading this year. There’s a lot morefocus than I’ve ever seen, and it’s creating a great atmosphere.We’ve become the team to beat.”

Yet not even popular opinion can satisfy these warriors.

“We want to bring a trophy home,” Coach Peterson admitted.”That’s what we’ve been building for.”

The Storm are fully aware that the price of success isultimately an unwavering dedication to hard work.

They’re happy with the results of the National Duals, butthey’re hungry and starving for more.

So they keep running and they keep lifting, and unfortunatelyfor everyone else in their path, as the days get longer this bitterwinter, the time only gets shorter until the big payoff.