Quotes from final session of NCAA Championships

By Gary Abbott | March 18, 2006, 10:52 p.m. (ET)
Provided by the NCAA

125 pounds


On winning a second national title:
"Winning the first one was definitely harder because I hadn't been there before. I always shine in the spotlight anyway but there were a lot more nerves. Now it's just wrestling my last match. So I just had fun out there."

On wrestling a true freshman:
"I think experience made a difference. He was probably a little tense, a little nervous, and like I said, I've been there. I'm a fift-year senior and he's a true freshman. There's a lot of wrestling in between there."

On staying relaxed the day of the match:
"I went to weigh-ins, watched my teammate Brandon Becker take seventh, went back to the hotel, took a nap and listened to music, came here and win a second national championship."

On Nickerson:
"He's going to be a great one. I think he was a little tense and nervous. I expect him to be in the finals four times."

On wrestling at Indiana:
"It feels great. I wouldn't want to do it anywhere else with any other coaches. It's the best environment I've ever been in."

On his schedule:
"I think I was forgotten once I won the national championship last year. It actually motivates me a little more. These guys in the rankings they put emphasis on 'having to be number one' to be a national champ. People were saying I didn't have a tough schedule and I took off some tournaments. But when it comes down to it, in March, I come out undefeated every time. Are people going to remember a tournament title or a national title? I think my scheduling, my planning and my coaching helped me come out and win a second national championship."

On the difference between the national championship and the Big Ten:
"I took a big blow in the Big Ten. I really wanted the Big Ten championship. I sat down and talked with my coaches and regrouped. Are people going to remember a Big Ten champion or a national champion? I worked hard and came in and gave it my best shot."

"The first one was for me, and was real exciting. This time, it was for my coaches, my family, my grandfather who recently passed away, and for all the people here. I can go out a champion."

On Dubuque:
"I think he could be the poster boy for anybody and anything. He truly epitomizes the word champion. Not only his athleticism but for us as coaches, it's been a tremendous relationship. He's been in such a loaded weight class his whole life and he's always been the underdog, always been overlooked, and yet he comes away with title after title. With the quality of wrestlers, it's probably the toughest weight class at the national championship and walk away with two national titles. He has to be categorized as one of the best of all time. "

133 pounds


On riding Purdue's Christopher Fleeger:
"Going into this season with our new coach, one of the things that he has stressed is that in our matches, especially big matches, is that they are won on the top and bottom. If we really wanted to excel at the national tournament, we had to do well on top and bottom. I've always had decent riding skills, but this year I've really gained confidence on the top. When he chose bottom in the second period, I knew that I could just ride him out the entire time and I tried to keep pressure on him."

On Fleeger's status entering the finals:
"I was aware, but I didn't think it would affect him in the finals. We both had so much adrenaline going, that you don't think of the little things or injuries."

On Penn Head Coach Zeke Jones:
"Coach Jones brought a lot to the program. Coach (Roger) Reina is a great coach and a great mentor. He really helped everyone. I think Coach Jones explained and helped show us what it took to succeed at the highest level."

On progressing through the tournament:
"One of the things that coach (Jones) has stressed throughout the year is conditioning and being able to battle through tough competitions like this. As a team coming into the tournament we knew that we would be in great shape towards the end of the tournament and would be able to push harder."

On rebounding from last year's injury:
"I don't think there was ever any doubt on whether I would come back. The question was how well I would be able to compete and how much my injury would really affect me. I could tell in the first tournament that I was okay and I was back to 100 percent. "

On moving up to 133 lb. weight class:
"I definitely think that moving up a weight class was a good choice for me. I had to cut weight quite a bit to make 125 and the last few days of the tournament I have really felt the difference. This year with being up a weight class, I've felt a lot fresher going into matches."

On Matthew Valenti:
"For the first three weeks of the program, I was scrambling around with my head cut off. Matt was like an assistant coach of the program. When I was trying to find out things in the program, Matt was the guy that I would call to ask. He really took a leadership role because when you have change in a program there can be that uncertainty about things that can happen, but Matt stepped right up and took charge. Matt is a captain and in the 102 year history of the Penn program the leadership and captain role is very important and prestigious position in the Penn family and Matt has really lived up to that level."

141 pounds


On tonight's match
"My game plan going into the match was to make sure I got that first takedown. It was real important. I think it set the pace for the match. He started to come after me a little more, but I was able to get the one point advantage, which was big."

"After the takedown, if I still had an opportunity to score, I was still going to take it. I wanted to make sure I had myself in a good position. I didn't want to get myself in trouble or anything and just come out with the win."

On his opponent Teyon Ware
"He is one of the toughest guys in the country to score on. Anytime I want to try to get a takedown on him, I have to work. He is a tough competitor."

"Every match we have is close. I have been lucky enough to come out on top most of the time. Little mistakes can change a match, and we have always been close. I have a lot of respect for him. He is a great athlete and a great wrestler."

On the ability to block his opponent
"It is one of the things I am best at. My defense has always complimented my offense and it is real important for me to stay in good position.I try not to wrestle when I am behind. If you get scored on, you get put into a position where you have to score, and you make mistakes."

On the progress of his defense
"I think it might have improved. But for the most part, I have always made defense an important part on how I wrestle. For the past two years, I have tried to not get taken down, as little as possible. I don't like wrestling from behind, and I don't want the outcome of the match in the hands of somebody else."

On winning his first title
"Not winning one before has given me a lot of motivation to come in and get it done. This is my last year, and it was my last chance to win one."

"I'm real happy. Maybe it didn't show. I feel relieved."

About competing at the U.S. Freestyle Nationals next month
"I will take a couple of days off. The U.S. Nationals, that's more important right now to me. I'm trying to make to make a World Team this year. I will pick it right up after this. My season never ends. It's a year round thing for me."

149 pounds


On his strategy going into the match:
"(Tyler Eustice) is a banger. He goes real hard. I was just trying to get a takedown out there, ride him hard and keep my head on straight."

On if he believed he could be a national champion at the beginning of the season:
"It was definitely a goal for me. Kind of in the back of my mind I had the goal of being a national champ. I don't know if many people would have believed me. I definitely thought I could do it."

On how this tournament stacks up to others he has wrestled:
"It's a lot better. It's been really amazing the past two days."

On any doubts that he could ride out Eustice the final two periods:
"That was the plan: take him down and ride him out. Getting that riding time point was going to be very important. I was confident I could do it."

On whether he thought Eustice was not attacking or if he was winning the hand battle:
"I don't know. I think he's a great hand fighter. That was a big plan coming in. I knew that was going to happen."

On if his goal is now to attempt to become a four-time national champion:
"Yeah. I just need to keep it up, keep training hard. That's definitely my goal."

On why he has such poise as a true freshman:
"I would say all the years I've been wrestling. It's been nothing that compares to college wrestling. But all the experience I've had. I've got to give my brother a lot of credit. That's was really propelled me."

On if redshirting this season was ever a plan:
"Once I started training with the team, I realized it was something I could do. I could be a part of the team. It felt like I was ready. My mind changed (about it) once I got up to Minnesota. In the beginning I wanted it. Once I got up there, wrestling (this season) was something I definitely wanted to do."

On 149-pound national champion Dustin Schlatter:
"Dustin did an exceptional job this season. He said to me that he expected to be a national champion. He's really got great poise for a true freshman, especially in the way he carries himself. He's really been a senior the whole year."

157 pounds


On controversial pin on Brian Stith during the Pac-10 final:
"I knew I pinned him in that first match. They showed the replay over and over and everyone else knew it too. But it went through my mind that this was a chance to prove that I did beat him and I could again."

On being the second national champion at Boise State:
"It's been a long time coming. It definitely feels good to be on the same platform as Kirk White. He was there my redshirt freshman year and then he was gone the past three years. They hired him on as our second assistant this year. He's been tremendous help, I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him. That goes for all my coaches but he definitely has a big part."

On the third period:
"(I kept thinking) 'Don't go to my back.' I was doing everything I could not to. His grip was tight but I felt I was in relatively good position. I was in the splits far enough so he wasn't going to turn me."

On competing in 157:
"I didn't think there would be as many upsets as there were in the weight class. I definitely felt if I wrestled consistent I had a chance to get here."

On being undefeated:
"This year was the first time in my career I won some big matches that I had to win. That was definitely a confidence booster. I guess that's what I was riding on coming in."

On missing part of the season:
"I injured my knee during practice, I think it was the second week of October and had surgery a week later. It wasn't a major surgery but it was pretty significant with the swelling and the pain."

On having a national champion:
"I've been at Boise State for 13 years and we've had three guys in the finals. I've been the head coach for four years now and Ben is my first one in the finals as well as my first champion. It means a lot to me, especially now that I'm representing the community."

174 pounds


On tonight's match:
"He is a really tough wrestler and hadn't lost all year. He really came out strong and tried to take me down. I didn't think much during the match, it was all instinct. I think he thought he had the upper hand on me but I scrambled and came away with the win."

"It was a battle. He never quit and made it tough on me to get the win. But I was never worried. I had the best position throughout the match. I'm glad I came away with the victory."

On his preparation going into the match:
"I felt totally prepared going into the match and have worked hard to get here. I was ready to compete and completely prepared for everything. I knew every position and exactly what I was going to do."

On being the best wrestler in his weight class:
"I not only want to be the best in my class but also in the nation. I work hard and I'm always in the gym. I love competing and giving the fans what they want."

On his opponent:
"I have wrestled him a few times before and knew what he was going to bring. He is a great wrestler and a great competitor. I was just confident in myself going into the match and knew I could get the win. I would love to wrestle him again sometime in the future."

On the school's first national champion:
"It is a great feeling for the program. This is my eighth season at Missouri and my fourth trip to the finals in a row. We were due. What it does now is open the door for the team that is here now and kids in Missouri. Future wrestlers have something to strive for and see that we have a national champion."

On Ben Askren:
"It is hard to get mad at a kid who is a straight-A student and works so hard in and out of the gym. He does everything right and has such a great passion for wrestling. I'm just really proud of him and the honor he brings to Missouri."

184 pounds


On defending the takedown attempt by Minnesota's Roger Kish:
"I work on people like that. I practice that in different positions. It was just a reaction."

On his experience in the national championships:
"It has helped quite a bit. When I come out here, I know what I'm supposed to do. I learned a big lesson last year going two out. I focused more and used that in all my matches."

On schools in the Northwest getting respect:
"There aren't a lot of top teams - Arizona State is real good and we see them all the time. There are a lot of good individuals coming out, a lot of All-Americans. There aren't many national champions, so I don't think we get a lot of respect when we come out here. We don't qualify many people. I don't think about that stuff when I'm here. I just go out and wrestle my match."

On if he believed his victory was an upset:
"No, not in my mind. I went out there to get the win. That was the mentality I had out there. You can't go out there and think about losing."

On what Oregon's coaches did differently this season:
"The coaches came out at the beginning of this year with a different outlook than we had before. They had a little more dedication. The change was real nice for me. It helped me out a lot and I know it helped out Joey Bracamonte. The coaches were a lot more consistent."

197 pounds


On the tradition of Oklahoma State wrestling:
"There have been a lot of great wrestlers that have come out of Oklahoma State. It's an honor to be thought of among those kinds of wrestlers."

On his defense in the first period::
"It's just one of those things. I got into a scramble and got caught but I was able to keep myself from getting pinned. "

On the uniqueness of having his family at Oklahoma State::
"It's pretty neat. It's the first time my brother and I have been on any kind of team together. It's been nice with my sister there, doing well in soccer, and I can go support her and have her there to support me.

On this tournament:
"I think things definitely could have gone better. But we got done what we set out as a team to do, what we've been working for all year."

On celebrating in the stands:
"I think I've thought about that all year. Being able to win my last match here and go out a national champion and go into the stands and hug my mom. She's been a big part of my life that I can hang on to and go back to for support. When things aren't going right and I need some help, she's always there for me."

285 pounds


On ending the match with a takedown:
"I probably would have been ahead anyway, but it's just better mentally to get the takedown and win like that."

On the difference from last year's final versus Oklahoma State's Steve Mocco:
"I would have to say there is (a difference from last year) with me winning four times in a row. He has the same style, going hard the entire match, but towards the end he kind of faded."

On the final going into overtime:
"You never visualize a match going into however many overtimes that was. You never think about going as many minutes as we did. We train for that with long hard sessions so that we can wrestle in situations like that. I didn't want it to go that long, but if it did, I knew that I was in a good condition."

On Minnesota finishing second:
"It was in the back of my mind, but I didn't really think about it. I knew that I had to win to get some payback for last year."

On the Minnesota team at the NCAA Championships:
"To really put it into perspective, you have to look at where we were at last year. Last year, it was pretty much a given that Oklahoma State was going to win it all. This year, we started out fifth in the country. Right now, our fans are disappointed and I'm disappointed because we came here to win the national championship."

On Cole Konrad:
"I think Cole is a great example of what athletics is all about. He has coach ability and he's a really humble guy. He's very diligent and does what you have to do, no matter what it is. He came in as a freshman, we put him on a diet and he lost a lot of weight. There are a lot of stories about Cole and he did them all. The key with him is consistency."

On Coleman Scott:
"Obviously, we didn't start the tournament liked we had hoped. But we did finish like wanted to. This tournament is not so much about the start but about the finish. Once he (Scott) dropped down to consolations he knew that we needed him. It was no longer about Coleman Scott; it was about this team needing bonus points to get the victory. In the end, it was about his team that gave him a little extra effort and allowed him not to get so down. It was good to see him put it on the line when the team needed him."

On OSU wrestlers in the consolation bracket:
"We set out to win and, when that is no longer the option, it is easy. When that is no longer available to you, it is easy to let down. Your world comes to an end pretty quick. "

On the heavyweight match:
"Steve (Mocco) was prepared and did everything he could to win. He doesn't need to hang his head. He prepared for it well and did everything he could to become a national champion. Sometimes you just come up short. The important thing for him is that he did all he could to win. He put the energy and effort to become a national champion."

On the effort of the team this week:
"This was the toughest seed we have ever faced. It is the toughest quarterfinals I ever remember us having. I felt like that in a couple of weight classes we really didn't get the respect that I thought we deserved. We had to go through the tough way to win this championship. In the end, it was our student-athletes that bonded together and got us the win. On Friday morning we hit it hard. It allowed us to gain some momentum that I think it carried over to tonight."

On losing key seniors:
"We will definitely have some rebuilding to do for next season. But that doesn't mean we will have a poor season. Building means we will have to take individuals who don't have any credentials and turn them into champions."