Nov. 7, 2012
GopherSports: What made you want to try out for Minnesota Wrestling as a walk-on?
Josh Shupe: I was originally offered to walk on the wrestling team during my senior year of high school. I was shocked to be offered, but I didn’t think it was right for me. I regrettably declined and spent my freshman year focusing on my grades and trying new extra curricular activities. Through the year, I felt like I was missing something. I tried filling the gap by participating in club sports. I even began signing myself up for race events like the Minneapolis Tough Mudder, a Duathlon in my hometown, and the Twin Cities Marathon. I realized being an athlete was a big part of my life and I didn’t feel like I really belonged with any group because I was doing these things on my own. I thought back to the opportunity I was offered to wrestle and I thought to myself, this is what I need; to be able to wrestle again; to be able to apply myself to something bigger than me; to be a part of a real team again. I know I’m no state champion and I know it’s going to be tough coming in as a walk-on with some of the best wrestlers in the nation, but I’m ready to commit myself to this program and prove that I have what it takes to be a Minnesota Wrestler.
GS: How did you get started in wrestling? What is your earliest wrestling memory?
JS: I started wrestling my freshman year of high school. Some of my close friends wrestled and I noticed how tough of a sport it was and what great shape you could get in, so I decided to try it out. Coming in completely new to the sport in high school was tough. Having no idea what I was doing, I was put up against guys who had been wrestling since they could walk. It was a tough adjustment but I got use to it. I didn’t think I was anything great, but my coaches said I learned really quickly and had a lot of potential so I trusted their judgment and stuck with the sport and learned to love it. I still remember that first day of practice my freshman year. Taken to the side, I was shown a proper wrestling stance and how to “shoot in” on someone.
GS: Describe your experience at the Bi-State tournament where you got to compete on a raised platform in front of the crowd.
JS: I was wrestling for third place at the Bi-State tournament in La Crosse, Wis. Considering the tournament consisted of 52 schools and the previous year I didn’t even make it to the second day, I was thrilled to be wrestling for a medal. I remember running up on the platform and feeling like the center of attention in front of hundreds of people. Everything seemed to zone out during the match. Once I won, my perspective came back and as my hand was raised I saw and pointed to my cheering section and I really felt like a champion.
GS: What are some of your goals for your first season as a Golden Gopher?
JS: My goal this season is to learn as much as possible and to outlast my opponents. I feel behind as this being my first year wrestling as a sophomore. I have a lot of catching up to do so I want to be able to focus as much time as I can learning from the coaches and from my teammates on proper techniques for wrestling. Since I probably will have the least experience out of my opponents, I am going to want to be able to outlast everyone physically. I want to be able to be moving the whole match so I can wear out my opponents and try and make up for that missing experience.
GS: You seem to be quite the takedown expert in high school, setting multiple records for your program. What is the key to scoring a clean takedown?
JS: Something I’ve noticed while practicing at the college level, it is not as easy to get a takedown here as it was in high school. I feel that in order to score a clean takedown, you need to be able to have control of your opponent on your feet even if you aren’t in contact with him. You need to able to control his movements so you can set up an opportunity for you to strike. These opportunities can be very short so you need to be quick. If you can be quicker than your opponent, you can most likely take him down.
GS: Are there any skills that translate between the two sports? What have you learned from competing in football that you have been able to apply to wrestling?
JS: As a running back, you need to be explosive from your starting stance and have quick feet. Just like in wrestling, being explosive off the whistle or being explosive in taking a shot is important. The idea of having quick feet also plays a role in wrestling when you are moving around on your feet and trying to set up a shot and move your opponent off balance.
GS: You listed your major as kinesiology with a minor in nutrition. What about that career draws you to that field?
JS: I have a passion for health and I want to become more knowledgeable and pass on what I know to help others.
GS: Now that you have been here a few months, what do you like most about college at the U?
JS: I like how there is always something to do and a lot of variety in people you meet.
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