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Seven Minutes with Gabe Dean

By Andy Hamilton, TrackWrestling, 09/16/16, 11:00AM CDT


This is the ninth 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. Cornell's Gabe Dean claimed his second NCAA title at 184 pounds in March and ran his career record to 117-6. Trackwrestling's Andy Hamilton recently caught up with Dean. 

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

After watching the freestyle in the Olympics, there’s definitely a lot of things I’d change. Number one, I don’t think the refs should be as involved in the matches as they are with the stoppage times and hand waves and all that. It’s like, man, just let the guys wrestle. Then the one-point push-out. I think it was J’den (Cox’s) match where the guy got one point because he was controlling the center of the mat and got a caution (against Cox) and one point (when Cox went on the shot clock and didn’t score) and J’den pushed him out and J’den was losing (1-1 on criteria) after pushing him out. I think an offensive point should be worth more than just a caution and one. That was a big thing with me. A guy could be doing most of the work and not be controlling the center of the mat. Freestyle probably needs a lot more changes than what I just said, but the refs definitely need to be less involved and that one-point rule I don’t like.

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, if anything, do you have pumping through your headphones during your warm-up?

I don’t listen to music at all. I like peace and quiet. You have to control your adrenaline and control your emotions. That’s part of being disciplined, too, and I think music can throw that off sometimes, so I don’t listen to music.

With my weight cut, about one days out I come in about six over for practice and work out and get pretty close to weight, probably down to one or one-and-a-half over and kind of eat up to about three or four (over). I drift a good amount of weight, so I’ll drift about two pounds, wake up about two over and get a good workout in before weigh-ins and then step on the scale.

Then I usually have a protein shake right away, some oatmeal for some quick carbs and then I snack on some protein and a sandwich.

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

When I wrestled in the national finals the last couple times and I wrestled in big tournaments, I tell myself: ‘Hey man, enjoy this moment because you’re not going to get many more of them.’ Time is limited in college and here I am in my last year, so every time I step on the line, I’m like, ‘Enjoy, appreciate and be grateful for the opportunities to compete.’

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

Damion (Hahn) has a bunch of different things. He says: ‘Keep the pace, move forward, attack,’ probably a lot of things coaches say.

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

One time we had a break in action and we were coming back to the center and I was on top and right before I went to go on top I saw a guy in the stands eating some popcorn and I was like, ‘Man, that looks really good right now.’ Then I got on top and continued wrestling, but I remember seeing that guy eating popcorn and thinking it looked pretty good.

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

I’d love to say the national semifinals my freshman year against Ed (Ruth). That would be great to re-wrestle just because you give yourself another opportunity to be in the national finals. But I’d probably say my sophomore year in Las Vegas. I lost two matches in one day. That whole tournament in general I think I’d go back and have a different approach, a different perspective to my purpose and why I was competing because I definitely wasn’t competing for the right reasons. That’s something you always regret — when you’re not in the right mindset and you don’t prepare well and you just have bad matches.

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

I’m a pretty simple guy. I love the TV show ‘Friends’. I love Chandler’s humor. He cracks me up a bunch. And Joey, those two combined, I really appreciate their tandem on the show. I’ve seen every episode, which is a lot. That’s something people probably wouldn’t guess about me.

What’s your greatest fear?

If you’re talking about insects and scary things like that, I hate bees. But I think in general in life, my greatest fear is someday when I’m on my deathbed is to have huge regrets in my life. I think if you set out every day to make a difference and put others before yourself, I think you’ll live a great and happy life. My greatest fear is that I have moments when I don’t do that. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

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. Oklahoma State's Dean Heil wants to know: What's your go-to meal after weigh-ins and what's your favorite meal overall?

I usually have a protein shake after weigh-ins. My favorite overall meal is a ribeye steak grilled medium with some mac and cheese and mashed potatoes and gravy on the side. It sounds good right now. 

Do you have anything for Michigan's Alec Pantaleo?

I have two questions for him. The first one is: What's his purpose? What's his drive behind everything he does. And two: What is his favorite part of Michigan? And it can't be home. 

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