The Wisconsin wrestling team looks extremely young on paper this season, but is led by two very experienced redshirt juniors, Ben Jordan and Cole Schmitt. Both wrestlers qualified for the 2011 NCAA Championships and posted their best records to date last season.
UWBadgers.com sat down with the two wrestlers to discuss what they have been working on in the offseason and what fans should expect to see out of Wisconsin's wrestling squad this year.
How are you going to step up this season and make an impact?
"I'm just going to do my best to lead the team. I know we had some coaching changes last year and we have a lot of young guys, so I'm going to do my part and lead by example. I'm really confident in everyone on our team."
How do you feel about wrestling at 165 lbs. this season?
"I think it's the right weight for me and I think it's probably where I should have been for my whole career. There were some things that prevented me from that. I'm looking forward to it. I have one more chance at it. It's now or never so I have to get it done."
Do you expect anyone in particular to step up this year?
"We have some sophomores who are looking to break into the line-up for the first time. It can be very intimidating coming in and starting in the Big Ten, but those guys need to focus on wrestling. They just need to go out there and give everything they have for seven minutes."
What have you been working on in the offseason to prepare for this season?
"I worked on getting back to my style of wrestling. I drifted away from a couple of years so I need to get back on the attack, always push the pace and the same things that worked in high school are going to work here."
What would a successful year look like to you?
"I want nothing less than All-American. I'm going for first in the country obviously."
What did you learn from the NCAA Championship last season that you are going to apply this season?
"I need to keep wrestling every match. My head really wasn't in that second match. I think after my appendix surgery, my head just wasn't in it. For whatever reason, I was afraid to go out there and wrestle. I think I was afraid to get hurt."
What did you learn from your injury last year?
"I look at Andrew (Howe) and how he can back from his injury. He came back and it seemed like his wrestling never suffered. I came back and just didn't have the right mindset and it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to."
What will be the most notable difference in your wrestling this season?
"Strength is a big one. With (Eric) Bugenhagen's lifts this summer, our whole team is a lot stronger. I think people will notice my strength is a lot better."