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Q&A with All-American Boo Lewallen: On Injuries, Goals, and Expectations

Boo talks about his injuries, medical redshirt, and more.



All-American Boo Lewallen went into his sophomore season last year with a pretty high level of optimism about his chances to win an 149-pound NCAA title. Those were taken away with what turned out to be season-ending injuries to his shoulder in the South Dakota State and Iowa State duals.

Boo Injury

I spoke with Boo on Friday to find out how he was doing and get some of his expectations on the upcoming season.

Seth Duckworth: The last time we saw you was at the Iowa State dual. That obviously wasn’t the best circumstance. Could you just give us a bit of an overview of how you’re doing and what’s gone on since the injury?

Boo Lewallen: So I was dealing with a shoulder injury, and a lot of people know I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries. The specifics of it are I tore my labrum my sophomore year of high school in my left shoulder. I ended up having surgery after the state tournament, that was a six month recovery. I came back and didn’t really have any problems with it until I wrestled in a freestyle tournament after my first year at Oklahoma State when I redshirted. In that tournament I dislocated my shoulder again, and had my second labrum surgery and another six month recovery. Then I didn’t have any issues until I wrestled at 149 my sophomore year when I ended up as an All-American… During that season it would dislocate, but it would go right back into place, so it really wasn’t too bad. I dealt with that in practice and a few matches, but nothing too serious and something I was able to deal with.

Last season, in that first match against South Dakota State, I shot in on a double and it dislocated like it never had before. It stayed out of place that time, so they had to force it back in place, which was the first time it had ever happened like that. Then I recovered for about two and a half months up to Iowa State and was kinda pushing it on coach Smith because I really wanted to wrestle and felt I had a good opportunity to chase my goal to be an NCAA champion. I was doing well in practice, so I felt like I was ready to go, but as we saw it dislocated in the third period of that Iowa State match. I ended up getting an MRI after that match and basically they said since it was dislocating so much over the course of that two years I had chipped quite a bit of bone off my shoulder socket. So I was missing 25% of that bone, so that’s why it was dislocating any time I got extended.

So they did some crazy surgery and screwed a bone into that spot where I was missing bone. It was a pretty rough one, I had the surgery the day before the Big 12 tournament and the road to recovery kind of continued from there. I stayed in Stillwater all summer and have been doing rehab five days a week, just staying consistent in trying to get my range of motion back. The past two weeks I’ve been strengthening it with some lifting and kind of ramping up that side of it, we’ve made a lot of progress with it, I’ve drilled a little bit, about three times, nothing too serious, but it’s feeling really good. Next month is actually the six month mark where I’m fully released, so it’ll be moving kinda quick after that. I’m looking to start the season off ready to go. It’s been a long summer, but it’s been good.

Seth Duckworth: I think we all knew about your injury last year and most that follow closely knew about your injuries your freshman year, but you were dealing with the same problems during your All-American year too?

Boo Lewallen: Yeah, a lot of people didn’t really know that. I mean my coaches and my teammates did, but that wasn’t too bad. Like I said it was one of those things where it would dislocate and kind of just go back into place. It was never really a thing that would postpone me from wrestling.

My freshman year a lot of people don’t realize I broke my ankle and I was out for six months so I didn’t wrestle any redshirt matches at any open tournaments or anything and that was a six month recovery. That freestyle tournament I was talking about where I dislocated my shoulder was actually the first tournament I wrestled in college. So I dislocated my shoulder right after I came back from my ankle injury and was out for like a whole year… So it’s been crazy.

Seth Duckworth: So with that six month timeline and practice officially starting back on October 1 are you expecting to be back at 100 percent and full speed at that point?

Boo Lewallen: Oh yeah, absolutely! I’ve talked to my coaches and we’re going to kind of work smarter on how my body feels, we’re definitely going to put the work in, but it’s just kinda being smart about what I’m doing and listening to my body.

Seth Duckworth: Did you request a medical redshirt for last year?

Boo Lewallen: Yes. I applied for that. I’m still kinda waiting. I went and talked to the compliance office about a week ago and the NCAA is saying it’s still in process. I had to write a letter to the NCAA because the initial request was denied because I wrestled past the set date that allows you to qualify for a medical redshirt (rule says you can’t compete past the first half of the season.) But with my story and how the season went, I never actually finished a match, I got hurt in both matches I competed in. I put that in my letter and hopefully we’ll get some information soon.

Seth Duckworth: Recently it seems like a lot of wrestlers have been getting those.

Boo Lewallen: I hope I can get it, but I’m very focused on this upcoming season and it’s kind of out of my control. So, if I get it I get it, but if not it is what it is.

Seth Duckworth: I assume 149 again this year?

Boo Lewallen: Yes. 149

Seth Duckworth: You always seem to be really upbeat and even with all your injuries you have a great attitude about everything. What do you think allows you to be that way?

Boo Lewallen: Like with the medical redshirt being out of my control, I try and do everything I can to give me the best opportunity to compete at the best of my ability so if I get hurt or things don’t go my way it’s kind of out of my control. So I just try to keep my same positive mindset. I’ve had these goals set since I can remember, since I started wrestling. I think whenever you’re chasing something and obstacles get in your way it’s just kind of like a speed bump. Especially when you’re really dedicated to something and really want to achieve it you can’t sit and dwell on.

The other thing that helps is realizing that it’s just a sport and being able to compete in it is a blessing. I’ve just never been one to feel pity for myself and there’s a lot worse things that could be going on in my life. Injuries suck, but I’m going to college and wrestling at the best university that I’ve always dreamed about and chasing some goals that I’ve had set for a long time. It’s kind of hard to feel bad for myself when I’ve got all that going on.

Seth Duckworth: I really felt last year that you had a great opportunity with Retherford and some of those guys graduating. Then everything (injuries) happened. This year the weight looks like it will open back up again. What are your thoughts on coming back and trying to reach that goal of being an NCAA champ.

Boo Lewallen: Yeah, like you said this is a great opportunity for me and I’m excited to compete at this weight class. The year that I All-American’d was my first year competing at 149. I think a lot of people don’t realize that my redshirt year I actually certified at 133. That was the weight class I planned to compete at in college. I got injured, I got a little bit bigger, and 141 was the weight class, but with Dean Heil there and the team how it was, 149 became my best option. And like you said I had guys like Retherford and Sorenson, older guys who had been in for a while, but I’ve got a great opportunity ahead of me and I’ve had some experience wrestling the best guys at that weight class. I was really excited last year to chase that goal last season and compete with guys like Anthony Ashnault, Micah Jordan, and Matthew Kolodzik and display my skillset. I believe I’m the best in the country and I work at it everyday, so this is a great opportunity and I’m definitely going to do everything I can to achieve my goal.

Seth Duckworth: Anything else you’d want to put out there?

Boo Lewallen: Yeah, for fans this is going to be a great season for Oklahoma State wrestling and I hope that everybody is excited for it as we are. Just like last season we have a close knit team and we’re becoming closer and closer and I’m really excited to go to work with these guys and chase that goal.







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