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Seven Minutes with Alec Pantaleo

By Andy Hamilton, TrackWrestling, 09/20/16, 11:30AM CDT


This is the tenth 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. Michigan's Alec Pantaleo earned All-America honors for the first time last season when he placed sixth at 149 pounds. He takes a 49-17 career record into his junior season with the Wolverines. Trackwrestling's Andy Hamilton recently caught up with Pantaleo. 

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

Just coming off Junior Worlds, I can say I don’t want the repechage situation. You lose one time and you’ve got to depend on that guy winning out for you to get another chance of dropping into the consolations. I don’t like that. I think it’s pretty dumb, especially if you go and get the guy dead tired and he’s expected to win the rest of the day. That’s one thing I’d change. But one thing my father and I were just talking about is doing some more pep rally-type stuff at these duals to really get fans more engaged. You go to a lot of these high school duals and they drag on for hours and they’re very boring. You go to football games and they’re very lively, very spirited. I think I would look into getting more pep rallies at these events.

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?

I don’t like to hold my weight down, so I’ll get down real quick and I like to shoot back up again. As far as pre-match, I always like peanut butter and honey sandwiches. That’s my go-to. Then as far as my warm-up, I think my wrestling performance really depends on my warm-up. One thing we do at Michigan is make sure we get a really, really good blow in, whether it’s drilling, hard hand-fighting or live goes. Basically, you should be exhausted by the end of your warmup, so by your first match you already have your first wind out of you. That’s really important to me for pre-match.

As far as music, I don’t really listen to music that distracts me. I like to listen to music that calms me down and keeps me focused.

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

It’s time to go to work.

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

Move your feet.

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

Probably what I ate for breakfast in the morning and going through my day and trying to think about what I ate as far as why I’m wrestling and how I feel.

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

Definitely my senior year (in high school) the state finals match. I was undefeated going in. I teched or pinned everyone I wrestled. I went in a little too excited and I was pinned in 30 seconds by (Malik Amine) a teammate of mine now at Michigan. I would definitely go back and wrestle a little more cautiously. I shot in on about five shots in three seconds, just firing off shots. I got out of position, he slapped a cradle on me and end of story.

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

I’m a huge adrenaline junkie. I have a garage full of motorcycles right now — Supersports, off-roads, scooters, all that stuff. I’m always doing something that gets my adrenaline pumping, whether it’s bridge jumping, cliff diving or anything like that.

Are we going to see you in the X Games someday?

Who knows, man? I pick up a hobby and run with it. I’m really good at doing flips and aerial-type stunts. I had a video on YouTube for a while. It was a Parkour video and it got some major hits. I know Jake Herbert and Andy Hrovat were always showing it to all their guys. I’m pretty good at flipping and doing stuff like that.

What’s your greatest fear?

My biggest fear is being an average Joe Schmuck.

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. Cornell’s Gabe Dean said: “I’ve got 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.

For me, it comes down to potential. I don’t want to walk away from the sport when it’s all said and done and never reach my potential of what I’m capable of. That’s my drive, just constantly trying to improve on my former self.

And my favorite part of Michigan in general? That’s tough. Gabe’s from Michigan, so he knows.  Up north. Northern Michigan. Not the (Upper Peninsula), but up north on a lake in the summertime, you can’t beat that. It’s the nicest state there is in the summertime.

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