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Quotes from the semifinal winners at the NCAA Wrestling Championships



125 pounds

CORNELL FRESHMAN TROY NICKERSON

On Michigan State's Nick Simmons choosing the up position in the third period:
"I kind of figured that he would go top there. He's a real tough rider on top and he thought he could ride out the whole way. The whole time I was trying to get hand control. I was just battling with my hands. It's about the whole seven minutes, that's what it's all about."

On reaching the finals as a true freshman:
"This has been my goal for a long time, but it's not over yet, I still have one more match. My goal is to become a national champ and I'm on my way."

On Indiana's Joe Dubuque:
"He is tough as nails. He proved that by getting to the finals again this year. I'm looking forward to the match. I just have to go out there and give it everything I got."

On not being intimidated:
"I've been in big matches all my life. I've wrestled in front of crowds like this before and I tend to thrive off it. I just go out there and do my thing and let everything else worry about itself."

On receiving a stalling point against Nick Simmons:
"I was kind of disappointed. I was trying to work my arm out, it was tangled between his legs and I was trying to get it out. It's the right call and I couldn't move up. Anyways, I had to ride him out and that's what I was trying to do."

INDIANA SENIOR JOE DUBUQUE
On riding Oklahoma's Sam Hazewinkel in the second period:
"He really strives on his top to bottom wrestling and I think that's where I beat him. I'm good on my feet, but I wanted to take him out of his game plan. I think that was a shot to his ego and to his wrestling."

On beating Hazewinkel in the past:
"It means a lot, we met on the same stage in the NCAA semifinals and I know that was probably in the back of his mind too. Right now he's a junior, so he was probably feeling some pressure since he's been to the semifinals three years in a row. For me, this is my last tournament so it's all fun. I had a huge smile on my face and win or lose, I'm having fun out there."

On Cornell's Troy Nickerson
"He's a true freshman and a hell of a wrestler. He's got more to prove then me, I've already proved myself. Right now if he wants to be a NCAA champion, he has to come through me. He's going to have to take the belt away from me."

133 pounds

Penn Junior Matthew Valenti

On scouting his competitor:
"We had him scouted and really understood his top move. I knew he was a little weak on bottom and I knew if I really pushed on top I could ride him."

On a home crowd advantage:
"I knew going into the match that there would be a very loud following for him. Once you get on that mat though your adrenaline gets going and you don't even think about it."

On taking a year off from competition:
"It did help me out a lot. I had to take a year off from competition, I had no other choice. I came back and the shoulder feels the best it has ever felt."

Purdue Senior Chris Fleeger:
On his competitor tonight:
"I scouted him really well going into the match and knew what he would do. If he gets a real good movie he will get you. My strategy was to smother him and make sure to contain him. I did this a few times and it worked out for me. Every time he took a few steps back I would take two steps into him. I didn't want to give him back that room."

On last time in the finals:
"I made the finals my sophomore year and felt I didn't perform very well. I kept it close up until the end, but I just put too much pressure on myself. I have put in hours of work to get here and there is no reason I should be nervous."

On his rib injury:
"I have been rehabbing a rib injury that I suffered earlier this week. I have been competing at 90 to 95 percent at my matches. After on of my matches I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to go on. Luckily, I have had some time to rehab and ice down."

141 pounds

OKLAHOMA SENIOR TEYON WARE

On the home-crowd advantage:
"It was very enjoyable to have them behind me. But, I was thinking of (the match) like it was in St. Louis or Kansas City. Just because you have the crowd behind you doesn't mean you are going to win. You've got to wrestle for seven minutes. I think the crowd is going to be a big factor when it comes down to those close matches when you're tired - like tomorrow. That's when I think the crowd is going to step up."

On wrestling against Iowa State's Nate Gallick:
"Got to move. Got to wrestle on the edge. With us a takedown is about all you need. We know each other so well, we've got good defense on both parts. Just got to keep moving."

On how being in the finals has differed from year to year:
"It's tougher as you get older. My freshman year, I didn't feel any pressure because I wasn't supposed to be there. The last two years, I was supposed to be there and I was feeling that pressure."

On if it has soaked in that he is preparing for his final collegiate match:
"You only want to remember it if you win it. I just want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to get back to the finals. Without Him, it wouldn't have been possible."

On the disappointment of watching teammate Sam Hazewinkel lose just before his match:
"It hurts. It's [Hazewinkel losing early] happened the last three years. He works hard, extremely hard. He just feels like it's going down the drain - six months of hard wrestling. To see a guy like that that's having a good year go down like that. I have to go back and get my mind focused."

On the grade he would give himself:
"I say a 'B'. Hopefully, I'll be at my peak tomorrow."

IOWA STATE SENIOR NATE GALLICK
Opening statement:
"It was part of my gameplan - go ahead an try to get a takedown in the first period and force (Andy Simmons) to wrestle me a little different. It worked out well. I got some ride time and I just felt really good."

On the strategy of the first-period takedown:
I just wanted to get ahead early. If you wait until the second and third period, you start getting tired. I wanted to make him wrestle me differently. I wanted to put the pressure on him. I definitely was not going to let him work on my neck."

On if he changes strategy for Oklahoma's Teyon Ware:
"No. I'm going to wrestle the way I wrestle. He's a tough competitor. I'm just going to wrestle smart. If he does something different, I'm going to adjust.

"Every time I wrestle him, there's no easy train of thought. He's a tough competitor. No matter how many times I beat him, he's a threat."

149 pounds

IOWA SENIOR TYLER EUSTICE

On the third period against Oklahoma State's Zack Esposito:
"This getting rode thing has kind of been a struggle this year. It happened in the quarterfinals, I had eight seconds and I had to get out. If I was going to win, I had to get a takedown so I figured I would erase the riding time. He's tough on top. He's just a tough kid and a defending national champion, beating him is almost as good as it gets until tomorrow's match."

On his third-period takedown:
"He (Esposito) kind of puts himself into situations at times where he gives his hip away going for the inside trip. When he gives up his leg all you have to do is grab it."

On facing Minnesota's Dustin Schlatter:
"He's a tough kid. I'll have to stay where I'm good. The first time I wrestled him, he rode me bad. If I can get a takedown in the first period, I won't have to worry about that. If he gets a lead, he's real tough because he's a defensive wrestler."

On rebounding from the Big Ten Championships:
"It's not like I lost confidence in myself. I've always thought that I've wrestled my best. It's not a confidence thing, I just have to go out and do the best that I can do. That's tough sometimes with the weight class that I'm in. You have to be ready to go all the time. This tournament is different, it's not the Big Ten Championships, it's a different level. Everybody has to pick it up a little bit."

MINNESOTA FRESHMAN DUSTIN SCHLATTER
On advancing to the finals:

"It's great, it's something that I've been looking forward to for a long time. It's not over yet, but it does feel good to make the finals."

On facing Iowa's Tyler Eustice for a second time:
"I have to keep doing what I've been doing through the season, get up for the match and wrestle like myself. My riding time has helped in a lot of close matches and that's something I want to take advantage of again."

On wrestling Oklahoma's Matt Storniolo:
"I was thinking it was going to be weird. I was warming up and he was standing next me and he was a foot taller than me. I knew that with his strategy it was going to be hard to finish. He's good on top with his long legs and he's just real funky so I had to factor that into my gameplan."

On making the NCAA finals as a freshman:
"Hopefully I've gained enough experience this year wrestling in all these tough competitions. I know tomorrow is going to be a lot bigger than anything I've ever done before, but I think my head is on straight and I know what I got to do.

157 pounds

Boise State Senior Ben Cherrington

On if facing same competitor earlier in the season helped:
"I think it helped me for sure. I knew what he would bring and I had him scouted well before the match. In our match earlier in the season I had him up 10-0 but lost concentration in the third period. He came back on me, but luckily I was able to win the match in the end. I knew that going into the third period he would come out strong like he did earlier in the season. I wanted to focus better going into the match this time."

On his competitor in the finals:
"He is going to be tough. He shut me down in our first match in the Pac 10 finals. It will be nice to get another shot at him. He is a tough kid and I will need to be on my game if I want to win."

On if he is disappointed not being considered a favorite to win:
"No, I'm not disappointed at all. That just puts more pressure on you when you are expected to win. A lot of top guys have been knocked off this week. I'm going to wrestle as well as I can and won't care what people think."

Arizona State Junior Brian Stith
On not winning the Pac 10 title:
"It has given me motivation to make it to the NCAA finals this year. In the Pac 10 finals it was 1-1 going into the third period and it was a close match. There was a one second pin rule I was not aware of and I lost. After that I was really down for two or three days. But now here I am in the finals and it has given me a lot of motivation to win."

On how close matches in the past have helped:
"I have had a lot of close matches in the past and they helped prepare me for big-time matches. Here I am in the finals tomorrow and I will be ready to go. I have had some rough losses in the past and I'm sure they will help in tomorrow's match."

On his competitor tomorrow:
"I will be ready for him. He knows what I can do and I know what he can do. I look forward to the match and hopefully coming out with a victory."

165 pounds

MICHIGAN SENIOR RYAN CHURELLA

Opening Statement:
"I kind of went in there with a game plan, but I kind of wish I stayed on my attack a little more. His big move was a driving takedown when I got into my high cross. I just kind of stayed a little conservative in the first period. Overall, I'm happy to be in the finals."

On how coming up short last year affected Churella this year:
"I think last year, and the year before that, coming up short in the semis kind of gave me a lot of confidence because I knew I was supposed to be there. But, at the same time it's a big disappointment. It gave me a lot of motivation in the off-season to get stronger and better."

On facing Oklahoma State's Johnny Hendricks:
"I've been looking forward to that match since last year. It's the matchup that everyone kind of expected. I'm looking forward to making (the result) little different than last year.

"I don't really scout (opponents). Everyone that makes it to nationals is going to be good enough (to beat you). You just have to know that you're going to go out there and wrestle a high-intensity match. (Hendricks) is in there all the time flaring and in different positions. He's able to score from a lot of different positions. I've just got to be ready to wrestle seven hard minutes tomorrow."

On the crowd's effect when facing a home state opponent in the finals:
"You know it's going to be loud, so I'm just going to try to turn that into a positive."

OKLAHOMA STATE JUNIOR JOHNNY HENDRICKS
On how he scored the deciding point in a 4-3 win:

"(Muzaffar Abduraki) was stalling. He wasn't doing anything. I outworked him the whole match from the very beginning to the very end. He knew he was down by a point and he still didn't do anything. National finals are on the line there and you can't be relaxing. He did. I got two back points, I thought. I had him for four seconds there."

On if the crowd loves him or hates him:
"There seems to be a lot more hate. I've got 13,000 hating me and 3,000 loving me. But, you know, I don't know why. Whenever I go out there, I'm having fun, I'm wrestling my hardest. I go harder than anybody, I feel like. It's a show out there. That's the way I've been wrestling a long time going back to high school. I'm here for a show. If they hate me just because I'm working hard, I'm taunting them - let 'em. It makes me enjoy it even more. Of course, it adds a lot of pressure on me as well; because once I lose I've got 13,000 fans going, 'yeah!' Every time I win they 'boo' me bad. I'd rather hear 'boos' than 'yeahs.'"

On looking ahead to his finals match with Michigan's Ryan Churella:
"I've got one more weigh-in. That's my only consideration right now. Whenever I step on that mat, I'll start worrying about him. I'm enjoying being in the finals for the second year in a row. It could be against anybody, you know. I haven't though about anybody early. I thought about the first guy I wrestled and I thought about the second guy I wrestled. I did not look ahead because that's when you get beat."

174 pounds

MISSOURI JUNIOR BEN ASKREN

On today's win:
"I just wanted to go out there and pick up the level of intensity and come out on top. That's what I did and it felt great."

On being in the finals as a favorite:
"A match is a match. It's the same thing as last year. I have to go out and wrestle hard. Hopefully I come out on the positive side this time."

On facing Northwestern's Jake Herbert:
"He's one of the top wrestlers in the nation, regardless of weight class. We both have some of the longest winning-streaks in the nation so I think that says something. We are both very versatile and good in all positions. It's going to be a scrap tomorrow."

On the possibility of being Missouri's first NCAA champion:
"It would be good for the program. I remember coming in and Missouri not having any national champions. For me to do it would be great and I really think the program would benefit from it."

NORTHWESTERN SOPHOMORE JAKE HERBERT
On his excitement level:
"It doesn't go down until tomorrow night and I win that national title. It's what I came here for and that's what I want to do."

On facing Missouri's Ben Askren:
"Of everybody in the weight class, he's one of the few that I haven't wrestled. I've pretty much wrestled everybody and beaten everybody, but I haven't gotten a shot at him yet. Obviously my goal is to be the best and you have to be the best by beating the best. It will be good hard wrestling, seven minutes of two guys giving it everything they have. He's very strong, he's got good technique and an unlimited supply of energy."

On beating Iowa's Mark Perry:
"I just match up really well with Mark. I don't know why, but I do. Today, I just went out there and did some good stuff for seven straight minutes. I just took it to him and gave everything I had. He's very strong with a good grip that's hard to break, but you can be the strongest person in the world and still not be able to beat my entire body. I had to pick my spots and use leverage to beat him."

184 pounds

MINNESOTA SOPHOMORE Roger Kish


On the Oklahoma State crowd:
"It doesn't really change my style of wrestling. I enjoy hearing fans cheer either for or against me. The noise always helps me to get the adrenaline flowing and ready to go."

On tomorrow's final match:
"It has been a long week with a lot of good matches. There has been some great competition and I'm just excited to wrestle tomorrow in the finals."

On tomorrow's opponent:
"We have never competed before in any matches. We don't know much about each other so I imagine it will be a pretty exciting."

On how the rest of his team has done:
"We have had a couple of guys who probably didn't perform to their full potential and really didn't show how talented they were. They will still be there to cheer us on and help us at anyway they can. I'm still proud with the way we have competed this year as a team."

OREGON SENIOR Shane Webster
On being an unknown name in the finals:
"Being in the Pac 10 we don't see as tough as competition as many other teams. I think it can be advantage especially with my style of wrestling. A lot of guys don't know me or know how I wrestle. This could help tomorrow in the finals."

On tomorrow's opponent:
"I don't know anything about him. I'm not much of a guy who scouts anybody. Sometimes my coach will tell me something right before the match but that is about it. I like going into the match not knowing anything about who I'm competing against. I want to concentrate more on what I need to do to win and not the other guy."

On his progress as a wrestler over his career:
"I have made a lot of progress from my freshman year. In my first year, I made it to the championships and lost both my matches. In my sophomore year, I came here and got sixth place and competed a little better. In my junior year, I chocked and didn't perform well at all. This year I wanted to focus a little more so I don't make the same mistakes I did last year."

197 pounds

OKLAHOMA STATE SENIOR JAKE ROSHOLT

On the chance of winning a third national championship::
"It would be a really big accomplishment. It's always been my goal: to be a national champion. Then, you start out as a freshman and win one, all you can do is keeping winning. You can't settle for less than that."

On Oklahoma State's wrestlers being the bad guys in the tournament:
"People thrive off that, though. It's not that common in our sport. It's great for the sport, really. It turns it into more of an event than a wrestling match. The fans are really passionate about it. They might be passionate about Johny (Hendricks) getting beat, but they're passionate about something. They're cheering for it. Johny thrives off it."

On how he falls into the tradition of Oklahoma State wrestling:
"Probably later on down the road in my life, I'll look back and be really proud of it. (During recruiting) I knew about the tradition and knew that a lot of great wrestlers had a chance to come to OSU and have great careers."

PENN STATE SOPHOMORE PHIL DAVIS
Opening statment:
"It [making the finals] feels exactly like I imagined."

On his match:
"It's the national semifinals. You don't really have time to take it down to the end like you do in a dual. I wanted to get it done, get it out of the way. I didn't want to give (Jerry Rinaldi) a chance at a free shot. I didn't really think he got a takedown. He got in on my leg. It was just easier to give it up than see where it ended up."

On how he feels entering the finals:
"I feel like I'm on top of my game. I'm peaking at the right time."

On what he remembers from the last time he faced Oklahoma State's Jake Rosholt:
"It was a scoring fest from what I remember. He got a takedown and some back points. He was on top and somehow I managed to get him into a Peterson, which somehow turned into back points for him. The scoring got ridiculous. I think it was like 20 total points. I don't remember the exact score."

On his preparation for Saturday's final with Rosholt:
"I don't feel like he's wrestling that great. I'm just going to go in the finals with the attitude that I can take advantage. If he stumbles, I'll shoot. If he shoots, I'll counter."

285 pounds

MINNESOTA JUNIOR COLE KONRAD

On Arizona State's Cain Velasquez:
"He's tough. He's constantly moving in and out. A lot of people like to set up and tie up with you, but he doesn't tie up. He stays away so it makes the match a little more interesting. "

On taking the neutral position in the third period:
"In our duel earlier this year, I rode him and he rode me. I didn't want to go down and let him ride me out for the win."

On his mindset entering overtime:
"I've been in a lot of matches that were close or nail-biters and my mind came through. I was able to focus on what I wanted to do to win. I don't really get nervous about losing. I just try to keep my focus on winning."

On the stall warning he received:
"Honestly, I knew that I was going to do enough from there on out that I wouldn't get called again."

On facing Oklahoma State's Steve Mocco:
"The way that I've wrestled him and the fact that I've beaten him the last three times gives me a mental edge. I have a lot of confidence going into the match, but it's going to be a battle either way. You never know what is going to happen. I go in there planning to win and I'm sure he does too so we'll just see what happens."

OKLAHOMA STATE SENIOR STEVE MOCCO
On the chance for a third national title:

"I'm not worried about it yet. The time will come and I'll worry about it then. Right now I have to do everything I can do for the team."

On defeating Michigan's Greg Wagner:
"He's a big guy and a real tough competitor. He's very strong. I really wanted to wear on him. I tried to pull on him as much as I could and get his weight to move. I was trying to get his weight to move from side to side, but there wasn't much action because he had really good position."

On the third period against Wagner:
"In the third period my game plan was to ride him and take the match away. The whole third period I was trying to put him on his back, but he did really a good job at defending that. I did a good job riding. You have to win matches where you can win matches."

On facing Minnesota Cole Konrad:
"It's time to go. The time to talk about it is over. The time to think about it is over. Now I have to go out there and scrap for it. A match is a match. I'm not worried about the title, I'm worried about the match tomorrow."

Championship coach

OKLAHOMA STATE HEAD COACH JOHN SMITH

On winning the national title:
"If it's not official, we've got some more matches to win. If we come out and win that fourth it will probably be one of the more satisfying ones. Each one is more satisfying. I think that we had some ups and downs, some question marks. I think we gave a lot up through the season to some teams. We had to battle up and that's what we did this weekend. There's no question we battled up or as most of my guys would say, 'Cowboy up.' We 'Cowboy'd up' at the right time."

On the season:
"It has not been an easy season for me and definitely my staff. It's probably been one of our tougher seasons that we've had. We've got three national champions coming back to repeat. What do they need to be doing? It takes more effort, mentally, than the year before to repeat. It's not easy."

On the heavyweight final between OSU's Steve Mocco and Minnesota's Cole Konrad:
"I'm excited to watch it. I wish I was up in the stands. It will be a pleasure to see. There's not much to talk about. Certain things have got to occur. I'm looking forward to it. Steve has put together some of his better matches of the season in the tournament. He's never won."
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