Travis Paulson ready to make impact at his first World Championships

By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling | Aug. 27, 2010, 1:15 p.m. (ET)
Travis Paulson finishes a takedown against Andrew Howe at the World Team Trials. Larry Slater photo.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Travis Paulson was an interested spectator at the 2009 World Championships.

Paulson sat and watched intently as his twin brother, Trent, competed in his first World Championships last September in Herning, Denmark.

Travis Paulson, there as a training partner for the U.S. freestyle team, also watched the wrestlers in his weight class. He came away motivated and energized after watching the freestyle competition at the 2009 Worlds.

"I can beat all of those guys" he said. "I know I can."

Travis Paulson is set to battle the best wrestlers on the planet during the 2010 World Championships in Moscow, Russia. The 27-year-old Paulson is scheduled to compete on the final day of the event on Sept. 12.

Travis Paulson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) wrestles at 74 kg/163 lbs. He was favored to make the 2009 World Team, but was upset by NCAA champion Dustin Schlatter of Minnesota in the finals.

The matches with Schlatter were in Paulson's hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa.

"That was really frustrating - it was horrible" Travis said following Wednesday afternoon's practice at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. "That added a lot of fuel to the fire. I did everything I could as a training partner during the World Team Training Camps last year to improve and get better.

"I have always had so much respect for the top guys in my weight class. But watching the Worlds last year, I knew those guys were good, but I know I'm just as good as they are. I know if I wrestle the way I'm capable, I can beat anybody in the World."

Trent Paulson competed in the Worlds last year at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. He lost his first match in Denmark. Trent bumped up to 74 kilos this year.

"When Trent moved up this year, that was huge for me" Travis said. "He had a lot more energy in practice and he pushes me harder than anybody else could. We are very even and have the same ability - it just comes down to who is better that day."

Travis beat Trent en route to winning the World Team Trials in June. The matches were in their hometown.

"It was really weird" Travis said. "The two matches I wrestled before, the crowd was really into it and was supporting me. But when I went out to wrestle Trent, they were silent because they were rooting for both us. It was hard wrestling him, because we know each other so well."

Travis Paulson beat NCAA champion Andrew Howe of Wisconsin in the best-of-3 finals series to win the World Team Trials. Paulson made his first World Team. Howe beat both Paulsons in April to win the U.S. Open.

"Howe is very tough, and he surprised us at the Open" Paulson said. "I was a little overconfident and looked past Howe at the Open. He was a little stronger and wrestled harder than I expected. He hit a couple of leg attacks that caught me off guard. I learned a lot from those matches. We broke down the film of Howe, and made some adjustments that helped me. He's very good and has a bright future ahead of him. I won't make the mistake of overlooking him again."

Paulson has wrestled well again this season. He won the Hargobind International in Canada, placed second in the Heydar Aliyev Golden Grand Prix in Azerbaijan and took third in the Cerro Pelado International in Cuba.

"I just need to get my offense going and get my attack rates high at the Worlds" Travis said. "If I consistently make my opponents react to me, I don't think anybody can beat me."

While Trent Paulson won an NCAA title for Iowa State in 2007, Travis Paulson fell short of his goal of an NCAA title. The Paulsons were both three-time All-Americans for Iowa State.

"It definitely makes me hungrier to win internationally" Travis said. "It drives me that much more to reach my goals in the World Championships and the Olympics."

Travis Paulson wrestled at 84 kg/185 lbs. earlier this season before dropping back down to 74 kilos. He said that may happen again during the next Olympic year in 2012.

The Paulsons hope to make the Olympic Team together.

Trent Paulson will travel to Russia as a training partner for his brother.

"Travis can beat anybody in the World" Trent said. "If he's on that day, he can definitely win a World title."