This is the 29th installment of seven minutes. It's a series of interviews with college wrestling's top stars.
Nebraska senior Tim Dudley finished his career with the Huskers as a three-time All-American after placing third at 184 pounds as a senior.
I kind of like the sport how it is. Obviously, I would try to make it more intense and spread it out to let more people know about it. Obviously, this is personal, but make it bigger in states where it’s not as big, like my state — South Carolina — and it’s obviously going to stay big in places like the Midwest, Iowa, Pennsylvania California, and I want to spread it out to the places that are dropping programs, so that doesn’t happen. That’s really unfortunate for a lot of those kids.
Exactly? No. But I’m sure if there were one governing body and I was the president I’d have the resources that would give me an idea to make a presence in those places. You know how nationals are always in St. Louis, like every other year, or in certain other places — and I’m sure that’s for a reason — not always, but every now and then I’d put it somewhere it usually wouldn’t be, which I think is pretty cool with the World Team Trials coming up here in a few months in Lincoln, Neb., which isn’t a super-common area. I think stuff like that is awesome.
I try to stay within a pound or two the last day. If we have practice, I’ll get a nice practice in and I’ll end up at the end of the day within a pound. If I have a lot of energy and it hasn’t been a hard cut, I’ll get the rest of it off that night with a nice run or something. If it’s been kind of a crappy week, I’ll wait until the morning to get the rest of it off the day of (competition). Then I’ll step on the scale and make weight. Usually, the first thing will be an Ensure or a Boost and have a peanut butter and jelly bagel, and I always get a lot of berries in me. I love blackberries and raspberries and strawberries. I’ll eat a fruit cup, yogurt and that’ll be it.
If it’s a dual meet, that’ll be it until I wrestle. I’ll keep pumping water through me. If it’s a tournament, I’ll usually take a nap. Since I’m a bigger guy, I’m not up for a long time. Then I’ll wake up around 157. For most of the tournaments this year, I had a bye, so I’ll get another warmup in then and some food in me. If I don’t have a bye, I’ll eat a bar, get a nice, long warmup in and get ready for my first match.
Before my match I’ll throw on some headphones. I have a few playlists. I listen to a lot of music, so I’ll pick out a few playlists, usually something upbeat. I really stay relaxed. I don’t ever get too tense. The sport is fun, so there’s nothing really to get too tensed up about. Then I’ll hang out until I wrestle. A lot of times my coaches will come up and say some stuff to me, have some words of wisdom and get me ready to wrestle. They know as well as I do that I’m not one of those guys that needs to be relaxed because I’m already pretty relaxed before the match. They come up and say, ‘Go do your thing.’
I’ll step on the mat, pull up both of my socks, put on the ankle bands, shake hands and wrestle.
I have a superstition: I use my socks as a gauge. If I pull them up, I tell myself that gives me the ability to go 100 percent. I can’t start a match with one of my socks or both of my socks down because I tell myself I’m only operating at half-full. It’s silly, but I’ve done it for a long time. I pull up both my socks and tell myself: ‘All right, you’re at 100 percent. Let’s go out and wrestle.’
Coach (Mark) Manning always yells ‘Single leg’ because I have a pretty good single leg. I can always hear him say: ‘Your single leg is there, take your single’ or he’s always yelling, ‘Cradle’ — from any position. I could be on bottom and Manning is yelling: ‘The cradle is there, Dudley, go get it.’ I’m like, ‘I’ve got to escape first or make a scramble, coach.’
Coach (Bryan) Snyder always says my name — I hear it clear as day — and that’s when I know I’ve made a mistake. He says it in a particular ways. He says, ‘Dudlaaaaay, what are you doing? Dudlaaaaay!’ He’s just screaming it. I couldn’t tell you what I did wrong in any of the matches, but I know I did something wrong, and most of the time I fix it. Those are my two cues from both of my coaches.
It would have to be a food-related one. That’s probably the most common strange thing that crosses my mind. A lot of times there will be breaks in my matches because I roll around and we’ll go out of bounds or the ref will call a stalemate and I’ll be thinking, ‘Dang, I’m hungry. I eat a lot. I’ll get really hungry during the match.
Willie Miklus is really fun to scrap with. You have those guys you wrestle who are really, really strong, and you have guys who are really technical. Then you have guys who aren’t super strong or super technical, but they’re kind of a scrapper and they scrap with you. I like to think that’s how I am, and I’ve been told I’m really strong, too, but I think Willie Miklus is if not exactly the same way, he’s pretty dang close to it. A lot of matches we’ve had have been down-to-the-last point. Win or lose, I’ve always walked off the mat wrestling him with a smile.
I hate losing, and he beat me the year before last in our last home dual of the year, the NWCA (Dual Championship Series) and no offense to him, but I walked off the mat smiling because, one, it was really fun, and two, I knew I could beat him, but I had lost the match. Inwards, I was pissed, but I had a great time wrestling that match and it was really exciting. And it always is when me and him wrestle. We always get into crazy scraps.
I would have to say there’s a combination of a lot of things. My coach told me this recently — he said I would give any sociologist a hard time because I break pretty much all stereotypes about me that people could assume. I play a lot of video games, I watch a lot of weird shows, I’m kind of an odd person. It’s funny, because at weigh-ins — and J’den Cox is the same way — we just talk to guys. A lot of guys try to keep on that mean-mug face and try to be a hardass, but we’re sitting in line, smiling, laughing, talking with the guy that we might wrestle in an hour and having a good time. I don’t let pretty much anything get to me. My mom says I’m always kind of like a feather floating in the wind. I just go with the flow.
The dentist. I went to the dentist Tuesday to get a tooth pulled and it was probably that dentist’s hardest day. They had to sedate me because I wasn’t going to do it any other way. He was telling me it wasn’t a tough procedure and he could do it in 20 minutes. I was like, ‘No, we’re going to set up an appointment, we’re going to have a sedation and I’m going to be asleep while you pull this tooth.’ So that’s what happened.