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Seven Minutes with Dean Heil

By Andy Hamilton, TrackWrestling, 09/14/16, 5:30PM CDT


This is the eighth installment of seven minutes. It's a series of interviews with college wrestling's top stars.

This is the eighth installment of Seven Minutes. It's a series of interviews with college wrestling's top stars. Most of the question-and-answer sessions last roughly seven minutes. Hence the name. Oklahoma State's Dean Heil followed up an All-America finish as a freshman by winning an NCAA title at 141 pounds as a sophomore. Trackwrestling's Andy Hamilton recently caught up with Heil. 

Let’s say wrestling has one governing body and you’re the president, what would you want to change?

I’ll stick with collegiate since this is what I’m wrestling in. I kind of like the way it is now, but when I wrestled in the All-Star dual I liked the three-point takedown just because I think the takedown is the key component in wrestling, next to the pinfall. I’d like to see them bring back the three-point takedown like they had in the All-Star dual. I thought that was pretty cool, but overall, I think collegiate is pretty solid in terms of the rules. I like how they’re enforcing the out of bounds more. I’d like to see a push-out rule. That’d be pretty sweet. I saw awhile back that Jordan Burroughs was even tweeting about that, that he’d like to see instead of making it stall calls making it a push-out.

Take me through your pre-match preparation: What’s the typical size of a last-minute weight cut for you? What do you put in your body after you step on the scale? What do you have pumping through your headphones during your warm-up?

Usually, the day before before I get a good, solid 30-minute, 45-minute drill in and then take a couple-hour break, get some fluids and food in me. Then I’ll come in at night and get my final weight cut. I usually lose two or three pounds with that and then eat before I go to bed. I usually wake up about a pound or two pounds over the morning of the dual. Then we’ll do a drill and get the rest of the weight off just so we feel fresh during that drill and get all the soreness out and get that blow in the lungs.

I’ll step on the scale and make weight, and then off the scale. I usually have a ham or turkey sandwich, a granola bar, some hot tea, water, Gatorade. I’ll throw that into me and kind of relax and get a short, 10-to-20-minute drill in about five or 10 minutes after I’m done eating. Then I just relax. I’m not that wrestler who wears headphones. I don’t think I’ve ever worn headphones to listen to music before duals. I just take time to think without overthinking it too much. I get myself mentally prepared to go before every match.

What’s the last thing you tell yourself before you set your foot on the line?

Keep scoring. If I’m scoring, he’s not.

What’s one thing your coach yells that you can hear every time?

Keep moving. If I’m moving, that’s when I’m at my best.

What’s the strangest thing that’s ever gone through your mind during a match?

There have been times when I’ve been wrestling on our mats during one of our duals and I’ve been like, ‘Man, these mats are pretty orange.’ That’s one thing that’s crossed my mind when I’d be wrestling and get in a funky position and take a glance at the mat and be like, ‘Dang, it’s really orange.’ I can’t really think of anything else off the top of my head.

If you could go back and re-wrestle any match, which would it be and why?

Definitely my one loss (last season to North Carolina’s Joey Ward). I wasn’t mentally prepared for that match. If I could go back, I’d definitely change the mentality of how I went into the match.

What’s the most interesting about you that has nothing to do with wrestling?

I have a pet fox (named Tyke). I got it from a breeder in Ohio. It’s with me right now.

What’s your greatest fear?

I’ll give you two. One of my biggest fears is — this is weird — I always had the fear of falling and busting my teeth. I don’t know why, but I always feared falling on stairs or falling and hitting my teeth on the curb or something, and I’ve had nightmares about it. Another fear I have is not achieving what I want. I know I’m at a level that I can achieve what I want if I put my effort to it.

We’re trying something different with the last part of the series. We’re giving every wrestler the opportunity to ask a question to the next guy we interview. Iowa State's Earl Hall wants to know: 
What do you feel separates you from everybody else? What's the one thing that you do that you feel is a major part of you getting your national title?

What separates me from everyone is my mentality. I know that if I wrestle my match no one will beat me. It helps me not worry and stress too much about my match and allows me to stay settled.

Do you have anything for Cornell's Gabe Dean?

Ask him what his go-to meal is after weigh-ins and his favorite overall meal is like if he could have anything. 

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