This is the 50th 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.
Ohio State NCAA champion and two-time All-American Myles Martin is ranked No. 2 nationally at 184 pounds.
If you could take what you know now and have a conversation with yourself at 15, what advice would you give yourself?
One thing I remember about being 15, I remember getting frustrated at times when I was wrestling and not really listening to the coaches all that well and thinking I had it all figured out. So right now if I were to go back, I’d tell myself to try to keep your composure in all aspects of wrestling and life. And when it comes to wrestling, don’t be afraid to go out there and put all of yourself out on there on the mat as far as wanting just to win. Go out there just to have fun and wrestle and keep it simple. Keeping it simple would be the main thing. Back then, I always worried about winning and I closed up with wrestling. I’d just tell myself to open up and wrestle and don’t think you know it all. Listen to the people around you and continue to learn. I’m still learning and I still don’t think I have it all.
What were your top three schools in recruiting and why did you pick Ohio State?
Early on, it was Nebraska, Penn State and Ohio State. But then it changed to Penn State, Ohio State and a little bit of Oklahoma State just because I liked their style. The reason I chose Ohio State was mainly because a lot of the wrestlers on the team I had already known — Kyle (Snyder), Bo (Jordan). I wrestled a lot of those guys in high school. I took unofficial visits to a lot of colleges, but when I took my first unofficial here and my first official here, it had that feeling that’s so hard to explain. It felt like I needed to be here to grow in wrestling and grow as a human being.
When I first met Tom, coach Ryan is a great speaker and he’s a good motivator and mentor, and I think he’s really, really good for me just because of my background and the fact he cares a lot about his wrestlers.
You don’t know that right away when choosing schools and meeting new people, but when I’d talk to him he’d be so open and honest about what he was saying. I really liked him because I knew he was real. And also, when Lou Rosselli was here, he was one of the best technicians in the country at the time and still is, and I wanted to learn from Lou. I knew he had a lot to teach me and a lot of other guys on the team.
And then another coach, Ross Thatcher, he was my main coach and my dad really liked him because he was really honest. He didn’t hide anything and nothing was sketchy. That’s how I felt about all the coaches — nothing was really sketchy about what weight you were going to be at or (scholarship offers). Everything was out there and there was no behind-the-back stuff. A lot of that stuff went into my decision.
What’s the most rewarding victory you’ve ever had?
I think the most rewarding victory for me was last year at nationals in the blood round. After I got upset in the tournament earlier at 184, I was devastated. It took a lot out of me. A lot of times you see guys lose early in the tournament and they don’t really come back. I didn’t want to be one of those guys where you lose and then you lose the next match and don’t place. That blood round match about (Jack) Dechow that went to double-overtime, that was a really rewarding match because I put all of myself out there and I wanted to win. I knew if I lost that match I was going to be really mad at myself because I didn’t place. Emotionally, I was all over the place because it was a big match to All-American and I wanted to All-American and I knew 184 was tough and having a tough year at that and being able to All-American was really cool.
If you could take something from someone else’s skill set and add it to your arsenal, what would you pick?
It’s not one thing he does, but I really like the way (Italy's two-time World champion) Frank Chamizo moves when he’s in positions. If I could get myself to move the way he does. He’s good from any position, I feel like. He’s good from upper-body, he’s good from defense, he gets on your legs. If I could move the way he moves, I feel like I could open up a lot more attacks and be a lot more dangerous. He does a lot of stuff and a lot of it comes from his stance and being able to move so well. His movement would help me be more effective and be more of a threat in certain positions.
What’s one thing your coach yells that you can hear every time?
Tervel (Dlagnev) always yells ‘Insta-cut,’ which means to let him up. You get a takedown and he says ‘Insta-cut’ to let them up right away, hands to the back of the head to let them up and get another takedown.
If you could go back and re-wrestle any match, which would it be and why?
For me it would be the Big Ten finals last year when I wrestled Sam Brooks. I think going into that match, I don’t really know what I was thinking. Early on, he had a big move and I remember feeling like the match was kind of over with and he won. I think it was coming off the win in the semifinals the day before that, beating Bo (Nickal) and the emotions were kind of all over the place and I wish I could re-wrestle that match because I feel like I could’ve wrestled better or won.
Who’s one guy you’ve wrestled in college that you enjoy scrapping against and why?
I like scrapping against Bo Nickal from Penn State. He’s tough and our matches are always pretty electric and the fans really enjoy it.
Let’s say wrestling has one governing body and you’re the president, what would you want to change?
I would change the headgear rule. For college wrestling I’d say no headgear and I’d also have a step-out rule for college. The (edge) rule now is so inconsistent it kind of makes me mad.
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 a Friday night dual) I want to go to bed about three pounds over, wake up, float a pound and a half, go to class and hang out all day. Our weigh-ins are at 6, so me and my partner, Kollin Moore, will go over at 4:45 and warm up before weigh-ins and get our weight off, drink up to the weight and then weigh in.
After that, we’ll eat. I’ve been on Jimmy John’s pretty hard lately. I like to have Jimmy John’s after weigh-ins and drink Pedialyte and BodyArmor and put as much fluid as I can into my body and just relax and hang out until I’m the fourth match up. Then I’ll lace my shoes up and start pacing a little bit and stretch and then start jumping, but I don’t do a whole lot of jumping or smacking myself. I try to stay relaxed. Then I have something I tell myself. We call it our mantra. I keep telling myself to keep it simple and be ready for the first touch and that basically means keep wrestling simple and just go out there and just wrestle and not overthink any positions. And then being ready for the first touch is being ready for a hard club or if I club him he’s going to shoot, just being ready for the first touch because a lot of times guys shoot right off the whistle.
Then, after my match, I do a little cool down. I roll my arms out, roll my neck out, roll my feet out and just jog to keep the sweat going and keep the lactic acid out of my body. I just jog and stretch and then sit down to relax and watch the next match.
If you could go back and wrestle anybody from any era, who would you want to compete against?
I would want to compete against Cael Sanderson. Either Cael Sanderson or John Smith. One of those greats. I just want to feel it. I’m sure they have a lot different feel now because they’re a little bit older. But in their primes, I bet that feeling was different.