This is the 49th 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.
Lehigh All-American Scott Parker is ranked No. 2 nationally at 133 pounds.
If you could take what you know now and have a conversation with yourself at 15, what advice would you give?
I would say not to put so much emphasis on winning and losing and I would say, ‘Try to get one-percent better every day, and when you go into the sport with an open mindset and trying to improve, the wins will come and take care of themselves.’ When you focus on winning and losing, it takes the joy out of the sport, and that’s why you do it in the first place, that’s why I started — just because it was something fun for me to do — and I don’t want to lose that by putting too much pressure on myself or trying to maintain a ranking. You should just go out and have fun.
What were your top three schools in recruiting and why did you pick Lehigh?
It came down to Princeton, Lehigh and Bucknell. Honestly, Princeton was really high on my list for a really long time. I wanted to go Ivy League, and those three schools I mentioned are smart schools. I wanted to do something with my life after wrestling. I wanted to be set up for that, and I think Lehigh offered a great balance of both academics and athletics, and the coaches were great guys and they stayed on me the whole time and I fell in love with it the more I communicated with them.
What’s the most rewarding victory you’ve ever had?
Probably round of 12 last year (a 6-4 overtime win against Buffalo's Bryan Lantry). To finally see your hard work pay off and get on the podium, it was really special for me. I’ve battled my whole life not achieving my ultimate goal and I still haven’t achieved it — I haven’t won a national title yet — but getting on the podium was the first step and that was really big for me.
If you could take something from someone else’s skill set in college wrestling and add it to your arsenal, what would you pick?
I wish I could scramble better. I feel like I’m good when I’m offensive, I’m tough on the mat — I need work on my top game — but I’d say being able to scramble and get out of situations like a guy like Dean Heil or Bryce Meredith does, I think that would be huge.
Let’s say wrestling has one governing body and you’re the president, what would you want to change?
First, I would change how they run youth wrestling in general. I think a lot of the parents have a little too much control over what their kids are doing. They’re sending them to way too many places at such a young age. I think it’s just important to have fun and enjoy the sport at that age, and they’re trying to make it a little too competitive. I would try to keep it a little lighter down there. I think they’re doing a good job in high school and college. I think high school needs to adopt college out of bounds (rules) and riding time as well, but I would keep the rest the same.
So what would change on the youth level?
I would put a restriction on how much these kids are allowed to wrestle. I know my dad would never let me go to a certain number of tournaments and not get a certain number of matches, and that was big for me and it kept me having fun and not really worrying about going to all these crazy tournaments with parents literally getting into arguments with each other. I would try to put a restriction on how many tournaments these kids are allowed to go to.
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 into a pre-match drill about a pound and a half or two pounds over, work out, get my hard burn in then about two hours before weigh-ins, get that off and then just chill until weigh-ins. After weigh-ins, our trainer makes us this electrolyte solution kind of thing and I pump that into me and I get a ton of carbs. I’ll have a bagel with this stuff called Carb Boom!, which is literally just a ton of carbs. I’ll put that on top of my bagel and have a ton of fruit and drink a lot of water, try to get as hydrated as possible. I’m not a guy who listens to music. I like to be by myself a little bit after weigh-ins. I’m also religious, so I’ll pray a little bit and then I just get after it. I don’t need to listen to music to get me fired up, I’m pretty fired up as it is.
What’s the last thing you tell yourself before you set your foot on the line?
I remind myself why I’m doing it. I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it for something greater than me and that takes a lot of pressure off.
What’s one thing your coach yells that you can hear every time?
(Assistant coach) Brad (Dillon) yells a ton of stuff, but he always yells, ‘It’s happening, it’s happening,’ and that (means) I’m getting close to breaking a guy, my stuff’s working and he’s starting to feel it and it’s happening.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever gone through your mind during a match?
Probably my freshman year, I just got done with finals and I was wrestling a match and I was like, ‘Oh, grades come out tomorrow. I wonder how I did.’
If you could go back and re-wrestle any match, which would it be and why?
It would probably be my match against Zane Richards last year at NCAAs. I lost on a stall call going out of bounds and I would not have relaxed on the edge. I would’ve kept wrestling there.
Who’s one guy you’ve wrestled in college that you enjoy scrapping against and why?
I would say Kaid Brock. We’ve wrestled twice now. The first time I got hurt, so that was a bummer, but the last match was really fun. He brings it and I like to bring it, so I think it’s a good rivalry.
If you could go back and wrestle anybody from any era, who would you want to compete against?
I’d want to wrestle the Brands, either of them — Tom or Terry — just because I kind of want to feel the heat.