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Seven Minutes with Zane Richards

By Andy Hamilton, TrackWrestling, 10/21/16, 1:45PM CDT


This is the 20th installment of seven minutes. It's a series of interviews with college wrestling's top stars.

Illinois' Zane Richards earned All-America honors last season when he placed fourth at the NCAA Championships at 133 pounds, completing a 27-3 season. He takes an 82-20 career record into his senior season with the Illini. 

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

I’d probably just change the style to freestyle or at least make it so freestyle is the main style during the season where maybe folkstyle could be the offseason thing and switch those roles, mainly because our performance overseas is getting better, it’s close to where the other competition is, but I think to transcend to the next level and really set these wrestlers up you’ve got to be able to wrestle freestyle more. That would be my personal change — make things more freestyle-based.

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?

An hour or two before, I’m trying to cut not much, maybe a pound or two. I’ll go for a run or maybe drill out some moves that I want to work on during the match. From there, I kind of relax. All the preparation has been done at that point and I’m not really focusing on anything, just making sure my body feels the way it needs to feel going into a match. Once you weigh-in, you get ready and warm up and make sure everything feels crisp and ready to go. Once you’re done, for me at least, I relax and enjoy the experience and stay focused on what I need to do, but don’t over-analyze anything or get so zoned in that you wear yourself out, just keep your body warm and ready to compete.

The first thing I like to put in after weigh-ins is hot tea because I don’t like getting the cold chills from the weight-cut whenever you put in something cold. I’ll put in normal stuff that most other kids put in, but the thing I do that’s slightly different is I like putting in hot tea. If it’s hot, you’ve got to drink it slower so you don’t get a stomach ache or you get too full. Because it’s hot, it keeps your body warm whenever you mix in cold drinks after it gets in your blood.

Sometimes (I listen to music), sometimes I don’t. My two go-to bands are Chavelle and Tool. I like jamming out to those. I like music. It kind of just lets me zone out.

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

Probably just ‘Make it happen, go score some points and get the job done.’ Just normal stuff. I’m usually telling myself stuff all throughout the match, so it’s hard to decipher what the last thing I say is, but for the most part, it’s ‘Let’s go kick this guy’s ass, score some points and get the job done.’

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

I guess just ‘Move your feet. I hear that a lot. Anything they say I can hear pretty clearly. Keep wrestling. Head down. A lot of traditional wrestling stuff. Keep wrestling and move your feet, I hear that pretty clearly. I tend to zone in on those because they’re real directional-based and more of an application-type of thing and pretty specific.

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

There’s definitely been matches where the score’s not close and you’re in a break or something and something weird goes through your head. Probably the weirdest thing, at least more recently, that I can think of, I was wondering one time if there was going to be a new episode of South Park coming out the following week or not. I was thinking, ‘Did I miss last week? Is there a new episode coming out this week?’ I think that’s the weirdest thing that happened to me.

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

I don’t know if I’d want to re-wrestle any of my matches because they’ve gotten me to the point where I am today. Certainly, there’s ones you’re thinking, ‘Oh man, if I would’ve won that.’ But looking back, the matches have given me what they’ve given me to get to this point and make me the wrestler I am. I don’t know if I could take a match back or go back and re-wrestle it. Honestly, I can’t think of one.

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

How much leeway do I have with the PG-rating scale? (laughs) I don’t know, man. That’s one thing where maybe if you interviewed another person they could tell you better. I have a lot of hobbies. I enjoy my friends. I’m a big dog person. Nothing too crazy. I want to own a pet fox.

What’s your greatest fear?

I guess my greatest fear is I don’t ever want to be put in a situation where I can’t do something to my fullest. I never want to be put in a situation where I can’t give my best effort and can’t be what I aspire to be and give my all or be the man I want to be and I want people to remember me. I don’t ever want to be put into a situation where I’m forced to bite my tongue or I’m forced to not act on the way I want to act. That’s something I fear the most. I think there’s certain key moments like that that define you and the fear of not being able to do the thing I think is truly part of me and is my choice is what I fear the most.

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. Bo Jordan asked: If there’s one thing that you could drink without gaining any weight, what would you want?

That’s a good question. That’s a real good one. Even though it sounds pretty bad, I’d probably have to go with a really good beer. I think that would be the thing. I can’t turn that opportunity down. Make it be a really quality beer. Probably some sort of pale ale.

Do you have anything for the next guy in the series?

What reality TV show would you want to live in?

(Photo courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics) 

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