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Peyton Robb Q&A: Early-season success, working with Tervel Dlagnev, excitement at Nebraska

by Joe Wedra, USA Wrestling

Photo of Peyton Robb by Kadir Caliskan/United World Wrestling

This year, will interview one collegiate wrestling athlete each Thursday as a part of a new Q&A series for the 2021-22 college wrestling season. Stay tuned each Thursday for a new feature, spotlighting these student-athletes both on and off the mat.

This week, we talk with Nebraska’s Peyton Robb, a U23 World team member for Team USA who has had a standout start to this collegiate season. Below, Robb discusses his mindset early this season, which has been helped by his relationship with coach Tervel Dlagnev.

The Owatonna, Minnesota native also talks about the team-first culture at Nebraska, helped by head coach Mark Manning’s leadership.

Q: You’ve had quite the start to the year with several key wins. What’s it been like to soak in the early-season run thus far?

A: Honestly, I’ve just tried to wrestle every match the same. If you make a performance too big in your head, you’re not going to be able to live up to that competition. I really try to step on the mat with the same expectations every time. And then coming off the mat, if I win those big matches, then yeah, it’s a lot of fun because you did something knowing that you’re right there with all of the top competitors in the country.

Q: The one match that stands out is your win over returning national champion Austin O’Connor (North Carolina). What was it like to prepare and go through that match and what was the difference-maker?

A: That match in particular, I didn’t watch too much film or anything. I just really tried to do the same thing I do every week other than having to get down to weight – that was one of the first few times. I was just focusing on my weight really and staying focused in the wrestling room. I didn’t want to focus too much on the match ahead of me.

Like I said, if you build up the match too much, then you’re not going to be able to live up to the expectations. I tried to look at that one the same way I look at every other match. I was just focused on training, my technique in the room and dialing things in. With that, I knew I’d be fine…

Coming into the season I was training freestyle and had to go right into wrestling folkstyle. I was already in really good shape after making the U23 World team, so I think that played a big part. Coach Tervel (Dlagnev) got me in really good shape, so that helped a lot.

Q: Dlagnev was in Serbia with you at the U23 Worlds – what is your relationship with him like?

A: It’s great. It was really good to spend a full week with just him and I, so I could really pick his brain on things. He’s just a good personality to have around because he acts kind of goofy sometimes, but you know he’s still your coach and you have that respect for him. He’s also one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to wrestling.

Q: How would you describe the culture at Nebraska right now?

A: I think we have a really good group of guys who all really get along well. Everybody is pretty much friends outside of the wrestling room. We all hang out with each other and most of us all live with each other. That plays a really big part of things. Also, Coach Manning and Coach Snyder really take a look at the personalities during their recruiting, so I think bringing in the guys they know will mesh with the team and fit in well is big. We have a group of guys that are really working toward a common goal and truly get along well.

Q: How important is that strong culture in terms of carrying over to success on the mat?

A: For sure, keeping a positive attitude together as a team is huge. In the practice room, not getting down when you’re tired and that kind of thing, people who lift you up when you do feel tired or down is huge. I think if there is negativity coming into a wrestling team, it really shows on the mat. But I think we have a group of guys that just doesn’t have negativity toward each other.

Q: You compete at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational this weekend, where 157 pounds is pretty stacked. How do you view the opportunity as you look ahead this weekend?

A: I look at it as another opportunity to wrestle some really good matches and hopefully come out on top. When I look at who is going to be there, I’m like ‘dang, there are a lot of good guys’. But then I realize, I’m almost at the top of that list. I’m one of those guys they’re looking at, too, who they’re looking to take out.

It just reminds me that I’m right there with the top guys and I have a chance to win any match that I step on the mat. So, I have to really just keep that in my head. Any match is winnable.

Q: In terms of the next couple of months, what are you most looking forward to and what are your biggest goals?

A: I just really want to leave every match with no regrets. I think that’s a big thing that Tervel has taught me, is that the worst thing I can do is leave the mat feeling like I still had more to give. So, probably my biggest goal is to leave every match with nothing left to give.
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