This is the 46th 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.
Edinboro junior Sean Russell is ranked No. 9 nationally at 125 pounds. He placed seventh last season at the NCAA Championships.
If you could take what you know now and have a conversation with yourself at 15, what advice would you give yourself?
I’d tell myself to keep working hard and I’m going to get the results I want and not to get discouraged.
What were your top three schools in recruiting and why did you pick Edinboro?
The top three were Minnesota, Edinboro and Central Michigan. I took my visit to Minnesota first and I loved that. I had a blast there and then I came to Edinboro. Honestly, when I left Edinboro I knew I wanted to go here, I’d say mostly because of the coaches. I love coach (Tim) Flynn. He’s a straight shooter. I felt like he was very honest and I felt like he believed in me a lot. I felt like he had watched a lot of my wrestling and really thought a lot of me. At Minnesota, I felt like I would’ve been just another recruit. They get a lot of high-end recruits and they were talking about splitting some of my money up with another recruit, Ethan Lizak, and stuff like that, which obviously is not a bad decision. He’s a really good wrestler, but at Edinboro I felt like coach Flynn believed in me a lot and he was a real straight shooter and I liked that a lot about him.
What’s the most rewarding victory you’ve ever had?
I’d say round of 12 last year against Sean Fausz from N.C. State. Obviously, round of 12 you win and you’re an All-American. That’s the obvious part, but just a lot of work, I felt like it paid off. From the time I was 6 years old, watching NCAAs, I wanted to be a national champion, an All-American. I looked up to those guys to an insane amount. To get there to the national tournament that I’d been watching my whole life. I lost my second match and I didn’t expect that and to battle back and be in that match and get a good victory and become an All-American, that was a dream come true to me. That feeling of kind of like my life’s work — not that I reached my overall goal yet — but reaching a really big milestone in my life felt really good.
What’s one thing your coach yells that you can hear every time?
Circle. Circle from the edge. The past couple years I’ve given up some stall warnings on the edge just from getting pushed out and when I get close they start screaming ‘circle’ and I always hear it.
Who’s one guy you’ve wrestled in college that you enjoy scrapping against and why?
There’s a few guys. Me and Nick Piccininni have had some really good matches. He wrestles real hard and we have similar styles, too, with quick shots from the outside and stuff like that. Darian Cruz, we’ve had some good matches. Sadly, I haven’t came out on the winning side of any of those yet. But we’ve had some go to overtime.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that has nothing to do with wrestling?
I love playing ping pong.
Are you good at it?
I’m OK. I hope I’m good. I’m all right.
What’s your greatest fear?
Being done with my career and wishing I could’ve done more or would’ve done things differently.
Let’s say wrestling has one governing body and you’re the president, what would you want to change?
I would say increase the points you get for a takedown. Whether it be three or four, I think more points should be awarded for a takedown, so that’s what I’d like to see change.
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?
We usually do our team warmup, which is pretty hard, before weigh-ins. I usually come into that about .8 to a pound over and get that off. I get off the scale and I normally have a turkey sandwich, some Pedialyte and some water and then I normally try to relax for about 20-30 minutes on a one-hour weigh-in. I try to relax, hang out with the guys and then start getting focused. What’s going through my headphones is probably rap music, probably a lot of Lil Wayne and guys like that.
What’s the last thing you tell yourself before you set your foot on the line?
I try to tell myself that no matter what happens I’ve got a great life and a lot of people who care about me and a lot of people who love me no matter what, and then to move my feet and if I move my feet I’m going to be all right.
If you could go back and wrestle anybody from any era, who would you want to compete against?
I would to have wrestled John Smith. I think that would’ve been unbelievable. He’s amazing, obviously. One of the most-decorated wrestlers to ever live. I would say John Smith and Buvaisar Saitiev.