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Wrestling Q&A: Catching Up With Double Pan-Am Champ Austin Harris

Austin Harris talks about his offseason progress and his goals moving forward.



Austin Harris had a tremendous weekend of wrestling last Friday and Sunday at the Pan American Championships in Brazil. He picked up both a Greco and freestyle title there, won a US Open title in Greco early this summer, and competed for a Greco world team spot a few months ago. He came up just a bit short of making the world team, but still a great summer for the Cowboy redshirt freshman.

I reached out to him to talk about his summer, his move to Oklahoma, and future plans as a Cowboy grappler.

SD: Two big tournament wins for you last weekend and you’ve had a really great summer. Could you talk a little about that process and what it’s been like?

AH: Coming off my redshirt year it’s a lot better knowing I’m competing for real stuff versus just wrestling in open tournaments, so I’ve been training really hard with freestyle and Greco. We went to Vegas and I won the Open. That put me in the finals of the world team trials. The trials didn’t really go the way I wanted, but I was given the opportunity to go wrestle at the Pan-Am’s. (as WTT runner up in Greco Austin was invited to wrestle Greco at the Pan-Am’s. The freestyle spot was also open and he was asked to wrestle there as well) It was a great experience, I was really glad I was able to wrestle in the Pan-Am’s.

SD:I know in between the US Open and the World team trials you had been out to the OTC to train. What was that like?

AH: The Cowboy RTC is usually not known for Greco, so coach got us into a Greco training camp out at the OTC. I kind of have my own different style of Greco, out at the OTC they showed me a lot about staying in good position and taught me a lot of Greco moves, so it definitely helped a lot.

SD: You seem to have put on a lot of size. I know you wrestled at least one tournament at 174 last year and this summer you’ve been all the way up at 97 KG(213 pounds). Did you plan to bulk up or did that just happen?

AH: I wrestled at 182 in high school and when I came in I was pretty skinny. Coach Gary (Wrestling Strength and Conditioning Coach Gary Calcagno) put me on a lifting program and I’ve just been eating a lot, training a lot, lifting a lot, and I’ve just gotten a lot bigger. I haven’t really gotten any taller, I’ve just been putting on a lot more muscle and on a good lifting program.

SD: With that you’re a tall kid we’ve seen OSU guys around your size bulk up to heavyweight. Now that you’re past your redshirt year do you have any plans to do anything like that or will you stay down at 197? What are your weight plans for college?

AH: We’ll see. It depends on how much bigger I get and if the coaches want to try to get me bigger. If the coaches want to try and get me bigger I’m going to do whatever the coaches want me to do. It really just depends on if I keep getting bigger. I definitely have the frame to get bigger, I just don’t know if that’s something the coaches are going to want me to do. It’s really all up to the coaches.

SD: From my angle I feel like you’ve made a big jump this summer. Comparative to your high school career and even your redshirt year you really seem to have jumped up a notch. If you were to sit back and assess yourself is there anything you could put a pin in to say what caused that jump?

AH: I don’t know that there’s anything I could say exactly. In my redshirt year I was getting used to college wrestling and I think once that hit me and I thought about it, I just knew I needed to work my butt off if I wanted to be one of the best college wrestlers. I’ve just been working as hard as I can, working every day, and having the best partners. I’ve just been putting in the extra work.

SD: You and Bear Hughes basically went through the summer wrestling process side by side. With winning the US Open together, training for and going to the trials, then you going to the Pan-Am’s, and him to worlds in a few weeks. Was that an added bonus for you and a catalyst to help you both develop this summer? I feel like any time you have two guys in the room wrestling towards a similar goal like that it’s a big benefit for both of you.

AH: Definitely. It was really great having him to work out with every day, especially for Greco. Not a lot of guys in the room that wrestle Greco and both of us really love Greco, so having him to train with was definitely really helpful. It’s a great motivator to have one of your best friends and teammates working towards the same goal as you, so that definitely helps.

SD: Geographically it’s a big move to come all the way from Oregon to Oklahoma. What sparked that decision?

AH: Well, John Smith is my coach, you can’t beat that. So with getting an opportunity to wrestle down here I had to jump on it. Honestly there’s not a better school in the country for me to get better at, I’ve got the best training partners and best coaches, so I’m really thankful to be here.

SD: With the success you’ve seen in Greco and just in general you enjoying it. Is that something you plan to focus on going forward?

AH: After finishing runner up at the Greco world team trials this year I made it my goal to make the Junior World Team next year in freestyle and Greco, I’m young for my grade, so I’ll still be eligible to wrestle in the Junior division next year, but any time I’m given the opportunity to wrestle Greco I’m going to jump on it. I love the sport. It’s so much different than folkstyle or freestyle, and I just love it, so yes I’ll definitely keep wrestling Greco in the offseason.



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