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Seven Minutes with Sam Brooks

By Andy Hamilton, TrackWrestling, 09/23/16, 11:45AM CDT


This is the 11th 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. Iowa's Sam Brooks claimed a Big Ten title and earned All-America honors for the first time last season when he placed eighth at 184 pounds. He takes a 74-20 career record into his senior season with the Hawkeyes.

Trackwrestling's Andy Hamilton recently caught up with Brooks. 


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

I think things are starting to go in the right direction. I think folkstyle should get a push-out rule. I mean, why not, right? It has obviously shown success in freestyle and I think it’s almost silly not to have it, especially with guys playing the edge. There’s really not much I would change. Be more consistent with referees and rules and that’ll help. One style. Maybe freestyle and Greco. It’s hard for fans to keep up with three different styles and the way the rules change every year. Pretty much just more consistency and reward people for trying to score instead of the wrestler who’s more strategic.

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 warmup?

The warmup and weight cut are usually the same for me. It’s a couple pounds just to get myself moving, explosive, get that good blow so my lungs are ready when it’s time to wrestle. Food, I keep it pretty light — a bowl of cereal, some fruit, maybe a granola bar. Those one-hour weigh-ins are pretty quick turnarounds, so if I’m too full, I’m going to feel it out there. I think there’s something to be said for almost being a little hungry. The wolf hunts when he’s hungry. That’s kind of how I think about it. I’d rather be hungry going into a match. Full is where I feel fat.

If I listen to something, I like anything with a good beat. I don’t really need the words. I don’t know if you’d call it techo. Anything that’s not country music, really, will get me pumped up.   

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

At that point, there’s not much going through my head. By that time you’re so focused and in the zone it’s almost out of body.

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

That’s a good question. They don’t have to yell anything. Just looking over at them is enough. They’ll usually just yell ‘Brooks’ to get my attention, but there’s no one thing.

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

It might have been a match or practice — I don’t know why I remember this or how it happened — but I had Mariachi music stuck in my head. … That’s the one I can remember that was kind of weird. Why the heck was I thinking about Mariachi music and how did that get stuck in my head?

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

I don’t know it I would just because the matches you don’t have good matches, you learn from them. I don’t think I would (want to go back).

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

Every couple weeks I brew eight gallons of Kombucha, it’s a fermented tea. I brew and bottle a bunch of it every couple weeks and try different flavors and stuff like that. Dan Dennis taught me how to do it. I’ve been drinking it since high school and I’ve always wanted to brew it and Dennis used to do it. He sort of helped me get started last year. I’ve been doing it for about a year now.

What’s your greatest fear?

Have you ever seen the movie ‘The Replacements?’ You know how (the character Shane Falco played by Keanu Reeves) talks about quicksand? That kind of always stuck with me.

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. Michigan’s Alec Pantaleo asks: “What’s the craziest experience you ever had on a wrestling trip?”

This year on the way home from Universities, we took a charter bus and we had a bunch of guys out there, probably 20 or so. We set up an entire ladder and rankings for arm wrestling. We had everybody in on it. The bus was shaking. Everybody was getting into it. It was pretty intense. Alex Meyer had just won University Nationals and he lost to everybody, including his younger brother. That was the highlight of the whole thing.

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