This is the 43rd 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.
Nebraska junior Tyler Berger is ranked fourth nationally at 157 pounds after placing fifth last season at the NCAA Championships.
Let’s say wrestling has one governing body and you’re the president, what would you want to change?
No headgear. I’m someone who has pretty bad ears already, so headgear doesn’t really help me. I think it’s a personal choice if you want to protect your ears or not.
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 usually come in about two, two and a half over with about an hour left and then get that last little bit of weight off. As soon as weigh-ins are done, I get about 32 to 40 ounces of water, some Gatorade and something small — a little bit of fruit, half a bagel and then I relax and get ready for the match.
Music wise, I’ve been changing it up this year and I haven’t been listening to music before I wrestle. I don’t know why, but I just haven’t been doing it.
What’s the last thing you tell yourself before you set your foot on the line?
I tell myself to wrestle my match and go out and have fun.
What’s one thing your coach yells that you can hear every time?
Move your hands and move your feet.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever gone through your mind during a match?
The past couple matches when there’s not a lot of action — because I know Jordan (Burroughs) and James (Green) are watching — and I get in my head that, ‘Man, maybe I need to throw in some few more fakes or just get a corner or something’ because I feel like it’s pretty boring to watch and I want to look fast. I want to look similar to Jordan and James and when I know they’re watching I get self-conscious that I’m not moving enough. I’ve never told them that.
If you could go back and re-wrestle any match, which would it be and why?
My freshman year the first match I wrestled at NCAAs. That’s probably the tightest I’ve ever wrestled in my entire life. I’ve never been more nervous for a match. It would definitely be that match. It’s so hard to explain. It was my first NCAA tournament. I had been to the tournament before to watch, but when I was down there warming up, you can’t go out on the mat before you wrestle, so I was in the tunnel and I was overthinking stuff. Then I stepped out there and it was in Madison Square Garden and the place was packed. I got in a scramble in the first minute of the match and I felt like I had just been wrestling for 20 minutes. I was so tired and it was all nerves. I’ve never had it that bad.
Who’s one guy you’ve wrestled in college that you enjoy scrapping against and why?
(Iowa’s) Michael Kemerer. I know it’s going to be an intense match. I know we’re both going to wrestle hard. I know he’s got the ability to scramble, so there’s going to be some great scrambling in there. I know the fans are going to get into it, the coaches are going to get into it and we’re both higher-ranked kids and we’re both young and I think it’s an exciting matchup for everybody. And I haven’t beat him.
What’s the most interesting about you that has nothing to do with wrestling?
My faith has been growing a lot in the past year. I’ve grown in my faith like I never have before and I love to read, so in 2016 I read 26 books throughout the year. That was my goal. Now this year it’s to read the entire Bible. It’s the first time I’ve ever done it before. I always have a reading goal once the New Year comes.
What’s your greatest fear?
My greatest fear would be to have the success I want to have and to not do anything significant with it.
If you could go back in time and wrestle anybody from any era, who would you want to wrestle and why?
An easy one, I guess, would be Bryan Snyder back in his day. We’re both 157-pounders and I would love to scrap with him. We still love to scrap right now, but I would definitely need to get one with him. And then I would want to wrestle (Tom or Terry) Brands. I would love to. Either one, it doesn’t matter. They bring a lot of emotion and they wrestle hard and I like guys who wrestle hard. It would just be a scrap the whole time.