No matter how successful wrestlers are in high school, they all experience growing pains as true freshmen. Battling with upperclassmen who have years of college experience can provide a rude awakening. We caught up with some of our state’s best who are a few months into their first year of college wrestling.

Cade Brownlee-University of Iowa, by way of Creighton Prep:                                            “The hardest transition for me from high school to college has been keeping my confidence high. In high school, it was easy to dominate in the practice room and then use that confidence to go out and compete and dominate in a match. In college, I’m in there every day, and there will be days I can’t even get to a leg attack during practice. I’ve been trying to just keep up the fight and remember to trust my training when it comes to competition.”

Caleb Licking-University of Nebraska-Lincoln, by way of Norfolk:
“I think transitions are hard in any sense. Just like the transition to high school wrestling was hard, so is the transition to college wrestling. It’s just another level, and taking steps to reach that level takes some time. It’s obviously a way tougher environment whether that’s in the practice room or out in competition as well. But I have really enjoyed being around this level of wrestling. I have found that I’ve learned a lot about wrestling and myself during my time at UNL.”

Dylan Buschow-Northeastern Junior College, by way of Red Cloud/Blue Hill:                    “I was from a small school where I had nobody my same skill level to wrestle with, and now there are 21 guys on my team who are. Trying to find a weight to be competitive at while still maintaining my weight is a challenge. In high school, I never had to cut weight to make varsity or in order to be competitive.”

Matt Torring-Hastings College, by way of Millard West: 
“One thing that has really been tough, is the continuous motion you always have to be in while wrestling. You can never stop wrestling because once you do, that’s when you get scored on. Everything ranging from a shot to a set up has to be hit hard or your opponent is going to stop you in your tracks.”

Matt Kindler-Chadron State College, by way of Aquinas Catholic:
“The thing that has been the hardest to transition for me, is becoming solid on my feet. In high school, I was able to get away with being sloppy on my feet and solely good on top. But in college, if I am sloppy on my feet, it will be exposed and taken advantage of by my opponents. I’ve had to learn how to set up shots and have solid defense. Another thing that has been tough for me, is creating a mindset for myself that I am always ready to wrestle a full match. I can’t go out expecting to pin or tech a kid in the first period anymore. In order for me to perform well, I have to expect that everyone will give me a run for my money.

Jace Brandl-Midland University, by way of Creighton Prep:                                                “The hardest transition for me was definitely the emphasis placed on drilling. Attention to detail while still keeping a high intensity took some time for me to get used to.”

Wesley Dawkins-University of Nebraska-Kearney, by way of Lincoln High:                         “Definitely the competition level and work ethic. It’s tough going from being a senior and one of the best in high school at my weight, and then have to start back at the bottom. You learn all of this fancy stuff in high school that works on kids that aren’t very good, but when you get to college, you just have to get back to the basics. Kids in high school can get away with not working hard and still do well. If you want to be good in college, you are going to have to work hard.”

Jake Stogdill-Colorado School of Mines, by way of Millard North:
“For me, the hardest thing is realizing that wrestling is wrestling no matter the level, and that I can compete with just about anyone out there. Your self confidence gets really beat down in the beginning because of the adjustment. Building that back up is definitely the hardest thing for me.”

Zemua Baptista-Iowa State University, by way of Friend:                                                 “The hardest transition in college wrestling has been the small details for me and how much of a difference they make.”

Josh Anderson-Northern Michigan University, by way of Creighton Prep:
“The hardest part about transitioning from high school to college wrestling was going from a room full of state champs, to a room full of national champs and world medalists. I’ve gone entire practices without scoring a point, which was frustrating. But after practice, all of the older guys in the room are more than happy to work with me and the other freshmen in order to fix our mistakes.”

Jonathan Killingsworth-University of Nebraska-Kearney, by way of Lincoln Southeast:
“My toughest transition was front headlock and getting out when on bottom. Handfighting and setting up shots have also been key in the transition from high school to college.”

Andrew Null-Northwestern College, by way of Plattsmouth:                                             “The hardest thing is the competition. I’ve learned that you can’t come out cold your first match, or you’re going to get a rude awakening. Another thing, is having to compete when you’re beat up. I never understood why college guys were always more beat up all the time, but now I do.”

Nick Pray-Nebraska Wesleyan University, by way of Creighton Prep:                             “The hardest part is cutting the weight for me. The weight class change will be difficult to make for me (220 in high school). Unfortunately I don’t have the size yet to wrestle 285, so I will have to lose a lot of weight to make 197. At the same time, it will be easier because I can be on a college campus with facilities very close. The practices are similar and there wasn’t a big change in that aspect.”

Cameron Williams-Morningside College, by way of Lincoln Southwest:                         “The hardest transition from high school to college has been becoming more tactical and making the right opportunities to score. Being able to ride and turn at a higher level is another challenge.”

Josh Velasquez-Hastings College, by way of Bennington:                                                       “The physicality is much greater in college wrestling, which makes conditioning more of a factor in matches. You have to do all the little things right in practices and in your diet, because there’s a big difference in wrestling 7 minutes compared to 6.”

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