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Seven Minutes with Joey Dance

By Andy Hamilton, Trackwrestling, 05/17/17, 10:45AM CDT

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This is the 30th installment of Seven Minutes. It's a series of interviews with college wrestling's top stars.

Virginia Tech senior Joey Dance finished his career with the Hokies as a two-time All-American after placing fifth at 125 pounds as a senior. 


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

I guess I’d have to say the whole making weight thing has always sucked for me. I’ve had to cut weight since I started wrestling, so if we could maybe find a better system to group guys together I think that would be a lot better.

So what’s your solution? Just show up, step on the scale and go?

Exactly. Just group guys by what they weigh. I don’t think we should have to cut 20, 30 pounds. I think we should come in whatever we weigh. I feel like we’ll all be grouped together at the same weight anyway if we come in eating healthy and eating normal. I don’t think they’ll be any difference. We’ll be wrestling the same guys, I think.

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?

The day before I’ll try to be three to four (pounds over) and to lose the weight I’ll either throw on some sweats and get on the treadmill a little bit or go and do a drill. I like to do a drill instead just because I like wrestling a lot more than running. Then I normally sleep a pound off. I’ll wake up in the morning and eat a pound and then we’ll have our pre-match warmup before our matches and I’ll get my pound off then. Right after that, I’m normally ready to go and I’ll have my meal and right before we go out and wrestle I like to listen to a little bit of techno, a little bit of rap, that type of stuff.

Normally, I’m the first guy out if we’re in a dual. If we draw, which we did a lot this year, I’ll put my headphones on about two matches out and start getting pumped up and go out and take care of my business.

What do you consume to fuel your body after you step on the scale?

Normally, I’ll have half a bagel sandwich because I’m the first match out or one of the first ones. I’ll have half a blueberry bagel with ham, cheese and a little bit of mayonnaise with a pickle on the side and then some fruit. I’ll definitely drink a lot of water after weigh-ins and maybe a little bit of Gatorade. I don’t like to drink too much Gatorade because that stuff sticks to you.   

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

I’m always really confident right before I go out on the mat, so I’m like: ‘Do what you need to do and everything will fall into place. You’re going to win every match you wrestle.’ I try to stay really confident. There’s not really a certain thing I tell myself, I just go out there knowing I’m going to win.

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

Attack, probably, is the main thing I’ve heard when I’m wrestling. This past year I really needed to get to my offense more, so when I did that I’d blow matches open, so I’d always hear, “Attack” from the coaches. This next stage of my career, going into international, (I’m focusing on) just attacking.

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

I’ll hear my mom when I’m wrestling every once in a while. I’ll hear her scream and then I’ll look up at her and I’ll wonder what she’s been doing and if they were out partying the day before. I’ll have a little thought in my head and wish I could do that before I wrestled. I wish I could be out with them drinking and having a good time.

Who’s one guy you’ve wrestled in college that you enjoy scrapping against and why?

I’d say it’s between Thomas Gilman and Josh Rodriguez. I’ve wrestled that kid seven or eight times and it’s always been a fun match. He normally stays pretty stingy, so I have to open up a pretty good amount to get that win. I beat him every time, but it’s always been a fun match. With Gilman, I feel like we always had a little bad blood wrestling each other. Even though I lost this last one, at the end it was like a mutual respect. We shook hands, I gave him a hug and we realized this was it. It was fun competing against him the whole time in my college career.

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

I have a cat and a little puppy right now. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to raise a puppy. The cat was easier. The cat’s about 23 pounds. He’s massive, man. He’s a big cat. The little puppy is an Australian Shepherd and Lab mix. Right now he’s a little terror. I’m trying to potty train him. We’re getting there.

What’s your greatest fear?

Probably being stranded in the open ocean. That’s something I’ve actually had nightmares about, and it’s terrifying. You just don’t know what’s under you.

(Photo: Virginia Tech's Joey Dance finished his career as a two-time All-American at 125 pounds/John Sachs)

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