Vlieger’s success the result of constant improvement


(Photo: Jessie Gronke/The Simpsonian)

by Erich Bogner, Sports Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Senior Colby Vlieger’s career has been like a mountain: Over the last three and a half years he has been on the rise, and now he is hoping to reach the summit.

Vlieger was Simpson’s 285-pounder from the get-go his freshman year and has been ever since.

During the 2013-14 season, Vlieger had a losing record of 11-22 and went 0-6 in IIAC matches. While his first season was lackluster, Vlieger placed third at the Luther Open with a record of 4-1, which was a bright spot in his season.

His sophomore season wasn’t much better as far as win percentage goes. Vlieger went 14-23 overall but was 3-4 in conference and placed at two tournaments.

“I’ve grown up a lot both physically and mentally because of the sport,” Vlieger said. “My first two years I had bad losing records and was mentally weak. I went through the season just trying to hold on. These last two I’ve been much more successful. I’m more offensive and go out to score points, not just win. Most importantly, I’m having a lot more fun.”

Last season Vlieger was tied for Simpson’s win leader with a record of 20-19. Once again he went 3-4 in conference and placed in two tournaments, but he also placed sixth at the NCAA Central Region Championship.

“Colby has made massive gains since I came to Simpson in 2014. He’s changed his body composition, gaining a great deal of muscle while leaning out,” coach Joe Skow said. “He’s increased his power, speed and endurance in the process as well as making huge bounds mentally.”

Vlieger started his Simpson career weighing about 275 pounds in the 285 class. His sophomore year he slimmed down a little to 265. His junior year and this year, he cut even more weight and normally weighs between 245 and 250 pounds.

“I feel better in my body and a lot quicker. I’m also stronger than I was when I was bigger. So far a lighter me has proven to be a better fit for my style of wrestling,” Vlieger said.

To stay in shape and improve, Vlieger works out year-round. He said it is important to maintain his workout intensity when out of season. During the season, he works out two to three times a week with the team outside of practice, then does individual workouts twice a week on top of that. Outside of the season, he helps lead the team workouts, does his own strength and conditioning workouts and tries to get in the wrestling room three times a week.

Vlieger thinks his mental toughness and diet give him an edge on other 285-pounders. He said he won’t beat himself mentally and goes into each match with a plan. As far as diet goes, Vlieger said: “I tend to eat pretty healthy and make sure to get plenty of whole foods rich in nutrients along with plenty of fruits and veggies. But I do make sure to get my ice cream in every now and then.”

This season, Vlieger started with a 17-7 record and 0-1 in conference. He looks strong as Simpson approaches the second half of the season.

“Being his practice partner the past three years, I have seen him grow as an athlete and as a man,” Skow said. “He is a leader and I am proud to know him. He looks great heading down the stretch, and he is a test for anyone he will face off against in the postseason.”