Pre-NCAA Wrestling Q&A: Metcalf and more

Jordan Leen, Brent Metcalf, Nick Marable, Steve Luke, and Jake Herbert met with the media on Wednesday in St. Louis, less than a day before the NCAA Wrestling Championships were set to begin. Read what they had to say in this pre-NCAA Q&A.

Jordan Leen, 157, Cornell University

Brent Metcalf, 149, University of Iowa

Nick Marable, 165, University of Missouri

Steve Luke, 174, University of Michigan

Jake Herbert, 184, Northwestern University

Herbert on being the best in the sport

"It's pretty important but there is already a guy who did that, a four-time undefeated national champion. No matter how good you get there's always going to be somebody out there."

Luke on the evolution of his offense in college

"I guess being a senior I feel kind of obligated to the team to open up. My coaches are always on me to get the bonus points. Last year I won a lot of matches by about seven points, which winning a match by seven points or triple-overtime is the same thing. Eight points is a major so that's more for the team. I think college is a little more demanding academically and athletically and I put a lot more pressure on myself. I was going out there more to get the win in college while high school was more fun. The level of competition in high school was lower; you're wrestling these kids who are overweight or it's their first year wrestling. Obviously you get more pins and tech falls against amateur kids but in college you wrestle against state champions every match."

Marable on the atmosphere of the Missouri wrestling room

"This past week we took it down a step to recover our bodies and get ready for the national tournament. But every day in the wrestling room our coaches love having a good environment and want us to come in there excited and happy to be in the wrestling room and to have fun. It's contagious with our team. We go in there to work our butts off but at the same time we're enjoying it and having fun."

Marable on Missouri's goal for the weekend

"Definitely to win the national title. Every year we step into the season to win the national title and this year is no different. We have guys who can All-American, we have five guys seeded in the top-six and I think all those particular guys can be in the finals. It depends how we wrestle but I think we can definitely win a national title this year."

Metcalf on Iowa's chances on not winning the title

"Nothing is automatic. I don't really like the question you ask about what we have to do not to win it because there are a lot of things we have to do to win it. Just because I'm ranked No. 1 on the chart doesn't mean a whole lot if I don't go out and perform. What we have to do is we have to go out and perform to the highest level we have so far this year and then we will have what we want."

Metcalf on if Iowa has a weak link

"You're as weak as you want to let yourself be. I think as a team we have nine guys who made this tournament who can make it pretty darn far into the tournament winning championship matches. Ideally you don't want to think there are any wink links."

Leen on Cornell's chances on winning a national title

"Similar to what Brent (Metcalf) said, rather than focusing on Iowa or focusing on Missouri or focusing on any other team, we're going to focus on what we can do as individuals and what we can do as a team. I think it's going to involve putting blinders on to everything else that's going on and staying focused individually each match. The nine guys we brought are similar to what Nick (Marable) was saying, we're very refreshed and very excited to be here. We're just going to go out, try to leave it on the mat and put ourselves in a position to do something great. If something happens and shakes out between the other teams than that's how it's going to play out. We're focused on ourselves and what we can do."

Leen on what he needs to do

"Individual focus and wrestling each match with a specific game plan for the competitor that I'm wrestling against. I've never taken anyone for granted or taken my own ability for granted. I have before felt if I just went out and wrestled hard I could win and I've found that not to be true the hard way. I have to specifically know what I'm going to do, how I'm going to attack, how I'm going to react and think things through. Just put it in God's hands and have faith that whatever happens is going to turn out the best and I do believe that."

Leen on a possible rematch with Nebraska's Jordan Buroughs

"I think wrestling him was very valuable in and of itself, developing that muscle memory. When you wrestle a freak like Buroughs you can say he's fast but then whenever you feel how fast you can respect it a little more than just saying it. He was really fast. You guys maybe can't appreciate that until you feel his double leg. Feeling the double leg was the biggest adjustment. That's so far down the line if things were to happen accordingly. I'll worry about that more as it happens. I think actually experiencing that speed and that power that he packs will be my biggest advantage if we do face off. "

Leen on the strength of the 157 weight class

"It makes it pretty fun. I'm not going to approach wrestling them any differently. It's definitely fun to be involved in a weight class that has so many colorful characters that are dynamic in their own way. Especially those four, including myself, we feel that we have something special that is going to put us to the top but I think we all know that we're human too and that it doesn't always work out like you hope. It's going to make for fun matchups and I'm just excited to be a part of it."

Herbert on "Laughter and Slaugher"

"My parents came up with that. I'm originally from Pittsburgh, my mom is from Allentown. We had a good group of 50 or 100 people show up. My mom wanted some sort of quote that could go on the back. I like to have fun when I wrestle, I don't like to take too many things seriously but during those seven minutes I'm as serious as I can be."

Herbert on his Olympic trials experience

"I'm certainly glad I did it, it was one of the most beneficial years of my life. My goal was to make the Olympic team and I didn't reach my goal. I did a lot of good things, I did a lot of things really well and I now know what it takes. When I prepare to make the 2012 team I can focus on what I did right and what I did wrong and make sure I correct those mistakes. I gave it my best. It was clearly not what I wanted; I wasn't wrestling my best around the time of the trials. I don't know if I over-wrestled or wore my body down but it's something to learn from."

Herbert on his potential matchups

"It doesn't matter. Whoever I get on the mat I'm going to have to beat, regardless. I'm not really hoping to wrestle one person; it's whoever I step out there against. I'm going to wrestle them with the same game plan of mine, to go out, beat them, get my hand raised and win another national title."

Luke on what he has to do to win

"I just focus and take one match at a time. I know that's overused in wrestling and everybody says that but that's how I approach each tournament. I've been wrestling since I was seven years old, I've had so many tournaments, including big tournaments. Being in the finals last year kind of reminded me of being in the finals at Fargo when I lost to another kid from Pennsylvania. So I just take one match at a time and hopefully I end up winning but we'll see what happens."

Marable on adjusting to how opponents wrestle him

"It was real tough. People were wrestling me a little bit differently, a little more defensive. I know I'm pretty defensive too so that kind of makes a match a little boring. Addressing that was tough at the beginning of the year but I think now that the season has gone on I've adjusted to it pretty well and I'm back to wrestling like I was last year. I think I'm going to do pretty well this weekend."

Luke on his biggest adjustments from last season

"A lot of the adjustments I made from last year to this year were working guys on top. Not just holding guys down but scoring points from the top position. Before the top position to me was a waste of time. You watch a match and see it with six minutes of riding time, to me that's five minutes of wasted time. You want one minute for your one point but if you ride a guy for five minutes and don't get a lot out of it, it's a waste. To me last year I didn't spend much time on top. That's a change I've made this year. When you're riding guys you are taking a lot out of them from the top position but you're also scoring points."

Leen on representing the state of Tennessee
"At this table it's pretty sweet, two of the five are Tennessee natives. It feels pretty good. I'm going back there to coach next year. Coach Cole, I remember, after I had been there and then got Corey Manson, probably the hardest worker in our room and also from my high school, decided he was going to recruit exclusively from my high school. It probably wasn't the smartest idea. I had to help him out that not everybody was a real hard worker, not everybody was very good. But it's fun to represent a state that hasn't gotten a lot of attention. It's pretty cool that we got ninth as a state (last year)."

Herbert on being an example for his team

"We're a young team. We have (Brandon) Precin, (Jason) Welsh and (Keith) Sulzer, they're all pretty young but they have experience. They look up to me. I try to lead by example because I've been here before, I've done it before. I know what it's going to take and the work you have to put and everything you have to do to win to win a national title. You're not just born a national champion, you have to work for it. Hopefully they saw by doing what I'm doing in the room, staying after, getting up early, getting in and doing the extra things, watching video and eating right. All I can do is show them a path and they have to chose if they want to walk down it or not."


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