This is the 52nd 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.
Stanford All-American Paul Fox is 15-5 this season at 157 pounds.
If you could take what you know now and have a conversation with yourself at 15, what advice would you give yourself?
I’d probably tell myself not to cut so much weight and focus on just feeling good and getting better every day and not focus so much on winning and losing and have fun and continue to improve.
What were your top three schools in recruiting and why did you pick Stanford?
Stanford was definitely my No. 1. Then the other two were the Naval Academy and Penn University, but Stanford was always my dream school. I’m from California, so it’s super-close to home and I knew that I’d be able to accomplish my goals here, both academically and athletically. I knew this was the perfect place to be and luckily I got in.
What’s the most rewarding victory you’ve ever had?
I’d have to say my blood round match at nationals last year (a 5-4 win in a tiebreaker against Wyoming’s Archie Colgan). I was a wild card in the tournament and really wanted to become an All-American. It was a really hard-fought match, we went into overtime and I came out with the victory. It was an awesome feeling.
If you could take something from someone else’s skill set and add it to your game, what would you want?
I’d probably pick Kyle Dake’s top game in college. Right now I’m really struggling on the mat and I feel like I need a lot of improvement on top and having a skill set like his would really help me in matches.
Let’s say wrestling has one governing body and you’re the president, what would you want to change?
I’m a big fan of a lot of action in matches. I feel like there should be more rules that push more action, so maybe we should gravitate more towards freestyle. I would something like a push-out rule in college wrestling to get people to stop backing up and playing the edge and keep all the action in the center. I’d maybe make three-point takedowns a thing and reward those hard-fought takedowns and maybe get rid of the headgear rule. I feel like a lot people don’t really want to wear the headgear, so I’d take it out.
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?
Usually, before my pre-match workout I’m a couple pounds over and I’ll get hard sweat in and lose last couple pounds and weigh in. Then the first thing I’ll do is rehydrate with Gatorade or something and eat something light like a bagel or fruit. I don’t really listen to music during my warm-up just because I feel it distracts me, so I just like to stay focused solely on the match I’m about to wrestle.
What’s the last thing you tell yourself before you set your foot on the line?
Just relax and stay focused. It’s time to put all of my hard work into action and just show people what I’m capable of.
What’s one thing your coach yells that you can hear every time?
I can always hear coach (Jason) Borrelli yelling to keep moving because sometimes in my matches I’ll stop moving my feet or I’ll hesitate and he’ll remind me of that.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever gone through your mind during a match?
I can’t think of a specific thought that went through my mind, but I remember one of the dual meets last year that I was blanking out before my match and about 30 seconds or so I thought to myself, ‘Crap, I’m in a match right now. I need to focus. I should probably hit a shot or something.’
If you could go back and re-wrestle any match, which would it be and why?
We had a dual meet against Penn University last year. It was a close dual and it came down to the last match, which was me and I was wrestling someone I had already beaten earlier in the year and I ended up losing a really close match that I knew I could’ve won and we ended up losing the meet because of it. If I could re-wrestle any match, it’d be that one.
Who’s one guy you’ve wrestled in college that you enjoy scrapping against and why?
The first person who popped into my head — it’s not from college — but Javier Gasca from Michigan State, he’s down at 141, but back in the day we used to scrap all the time. We used to wrestle in every tournament and we’d go back and forth. He’s one guy I really enjoyed scrapping against. We had some hard-fought battles. I haven’t wrestled him in college, but he’s the one guy who pops in my head.
What’s the most interesting about you that has nothing to do with wrestling?
I rode my bike across the country back in eighth grade from California to Maine on a big, long family trip that took all summer. It was pretty exciting. That’s the craziest experience of my life that I’ve gone through.
If you could go back and wrestle anybody from any era, who would you want to compete against?
My favorite wrestler, by far, is John Smith. I love his style of wrestling and I incorporate of his teachings and skills into my style, so I think it’d be a lot of fun to go back and compete against him and scrap with one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time.