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NCAA Div. I Wrestling Championships pre-event press conference quotes



NCAA Div. I Wrestling Championships, pre-event press conference Iowa City, Iowa, Wednesday, March 14, 2001 Speakers: J Robinson (Univ. of Minnesota); Bobby Douglas (Iowa State); John Smith (Oklahoma State); Jim Zalesky (Univ. of Iowa); Mark Johnson (Univ. of Illinois); Jack Spates (Univ. of Oklahoma) J Robinson, Univ. of Minnesota "We're coming off a pretty good year. We had a lot of success. Our team has grown. Our young guys have stepped up and proven themselves. It's a question of individual power or balance. What is best for us to compete is to have balance. We've done well as a team, but we haven't had all 10 guys do well at the same time. We hope to do that this week." Bobby Douglas, Iowa State Univ. "We qualified through the Big 12 Tournament. We have 9 optimistic wrestlers. They are wrestling better now than they have all year long. This will be a great tournament. If it's a three team race, we won't be in it. If it is a six-team race, any of the teams here could win. We have one outstanding individual, Cael Sanderson. We are asking people to lay off him. He will sign autographs and do all the interviews. We want to keep him focused. It is starting to be a problem for him." John Smith, Oklahoma State "We had a good year. We needed a lot of guys to step up to put us in the position we are today, which is a position where we could win a national championship. We had a great tournament a few weeks ago at the Big 12 Championships. We are really excited to be wrestling here. We brought all 10 to compete, and we will need all 10 of them in order to win." Jim Zalesky, Univ of Iowa "We competed at the Big Ten Championships. It's been a season where we've had some good individual performance. We have not had the overall team performance that we may have had other years. At the Big Tens, we had four guys who looked good and four guys who stumbled and did not compete at their best. We need the four guys who wrestled well to compete like they did, and the other four guys have to step up. They have to wrestle above their seeds." Mark Johnson, Univ. of Illinois "We had a pretty good Big Ten tournament. It is the first time we placed above Iowa in 50 years. That meant a lot to me, since I was an assistant coach here at Iowa. We have a very balanced team. We have several individuals we feel could be finalists. We need to have all of out wrestlers do well if we are going to compete." Jack Spates, Univ. of Oklahoma "We have a young team. We have five guys who are seeded to place, some who are low seeds. We have to bring them up and have them score more points for us to compete." Jim Zalesky, Univ. of Iowa (what they need to do to defend the team title) "We need the finalists. We have only eight guys. We can't afford to have a round like we had last year, in the quarterfinals, when we lost four in a row. We have to wrestle consistently in every round." (A question was asked the Big 12 coaches about if they will do a two-day conference tournament again) Bobby Douglas, Iowa State "I don't think we will do it again." John Smith, Oklahoma State "I think we will." Jack Spates, Univ. of Oklahoma "I was adamantly opposed to it. We had to do it to avoid Bedlam basketball. It was not unpleasant. I will have to think about it, talk about it and evaluate it some more." John Smith, Oklahoma State "It gives you a chance to showcase two events - the semifinals and the finals. It is very fan friendly. We showcased the semifinals the night before, and we held the finals at like 2:00 the next day." J Robinson, Univ. of Minnesota (about the point system, which has changed to reward consolation success) "I haven't looked at it. Some people have run the numbers, I am sure. We looked at what we had coming back. Our plan is to have a more balanced team and to get 10 All-Americans. That is the only way we could combat what Iowa had, with those four finalists." Bobby Douglas, Iowa State (about Cael Sanderson, and the attention) "I think he was having a lot of fun, until people asked him so many questions. He's a shy person and he's apprehensive. He's starting to get tight. He needs to be able to enjoy this all. I think it's getting to him. It's a distraction. We need to keep him focused on the tournament, on winning and scoring points. I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I just know he might need a buffer." (about the 2-day conference meet) "It cost us a day of travel and a day of training. I like three matches in a day. For marketing, John (Smith) might be right. I'm not sure the people in Missouri could do the kind of job they did in Stillwater. It's a day wasted for a two day tournament." Jim Zalesky, Univ. of Iowa (about the NCAA decision to hold the tournament in venues of 18,000 and if this is the last time it will be held in Iowa City) "For awhile it will b the last one. They are strong on the 18-20 thousand seat arenas. If we have the demand, we have to do it for the sport of wrestling. It may be awhile before we get it here again, or for it to be on a campus again. You have to do it for the sport of wrestling to grow." (A question was asked about how the publication of the brackets a few days in advance would affect the tournament) Jack Spates, Univ. of Oklahoma "There are two ways to look at it. From the fan perspective, it's a big plus. There may be some people who will come to the tournament after seeing the brackets, and checking out the pairings. There is a chance for additional preparation, and for some guys, a little less anxiety. Some guys have more anxiety, but you train to handle this. It's not a big difference." Mark Johnson, Univ. of Illinois "Some kids handle it well, and some don't. You have some junkies who have it all figured out, about how they can win it all and everybody else can win too. We have some kids who don't want to know. It won't be such a nerve wracking night for us, waiting for the pairings." (about the homefield advantage in Iowa) "I remember Steve Marianetti a few years ago was asked about the fans here, and he said it was like competing in a foreign country. It is such a good wrestling place. It makes it exciting to come here. Is there a home advantage? There definitely is?" J Robinson, Univ. of Minnesota (about the pre-seed process) "It is fairer than in the past, when on the day of the tournament they would fight it out. I was in on it this time. When I got the information and I shared it with the other Big Ten coaches, so we could be prepared. Overall, it worked better than in the past." (a question was asked about Cael Sanderson's 114 match streak) Jim Zalesky, Univ. of Iowa "It's impressive. I went 89 in row. I didn't even think about it until my senior year. Then people asked me about it." Jack Spates, Univ of Oklahoma "The dominance in which he wrestles in unbelievable." J Robinson, Univ. of Minnesota "Everytime he wrestles, it's a statement. 114, 115, the fans love it. You guys ask him questions about the pressure, and the word he keeps hearing is pressure. He has to be feeling it. Let's just leave the kid alone and let him enjoy the three days." (how do you prepare to wrestle Cael Sanderson) Jack Spates, Univ. of Oklahoma "You tell reporters to interview him as much as possible." (laugh) "When you wrestle an athlete like that, you are in
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