Pronounced Ad-ver-si-ty, meaning a “condition marked by misfortune, calamity & distress.” Derived from the Middle English adversite & Latin adversitas, ad- towards & vert to turn. So Adversity comes from “turning towards” someone OR OPPOSING them, an opposition.
That would be Quentin Wright’s 2010-11’s season in a nutshell. And he will be the first to admit that he was wondering, just like many of you, “What was going on?” Was it his injury? Was it things going on in his life? Was it in his head? From where was that said opposition coming?
His story is something befitting of a Hollywood script complete with a Rocky ending where he vanquishes all of his foes right in the very land of Sylvester Stallone’s cinema creation, Philadelphia. It is a drama in three acts which even includes moments of self-doubt, a love interest, friends & foes. And it took so long to tell that I had to separate it into 2 parts complete with our usually absurdity & insouciance.
If you thought you knew Quentin Wright well guess again….
1) Did you dream about wrestling for Penn State when you were younger? Allen, MD
Yes I have always aspired to compete on the biggest stage. Once I started enjoying myself in wrestling I started to think about higher standards. I always dreamt about wrestling in Rec Hall. I thought about being the man to win the match for the team, being the hero. It has always been apart of that dream. I even thought about competing at Oklahoma State or Iowa, some place real big & intense. But they never recruited me. Penn State wasn’t about to let me go as they knew who I was as a wrestler. And I am happy to be at Penn State.
2) So then here is the ultimate Penn State question: What is your favorite Creamery flavor?
Ha, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is AWESOME at the Creamery. Best Ice cream in the world. The coaches don’t tell us not to go there. We just know during the season not to go there ourselves.
3) Do you think that the current Division I wrestling season is too long, too short or just right? AG, TOM
Well, I would have to say that after this season that it’s a…ah, gosh I don’t know, that’s a hard question because it seems so long when you a re going through it. Yea, it was long! But I guess that that is what gives Penn State a competitive advantage because compared to every where else in the country our coaches have a system where everyone else is getting worn down & beat up & that’s where they are doing a great job & we can just keep it going you know?
4) Do you feel that your dramatic late season turn-around & winning the NCAAs, does that take pressure off of you or put more pressure on you, looking forward to next season? TW, PA
I would definitely say that it takes the pressure off because the rest of my life, I have already one national title & it is just going to be a blessing to land two more. You know that is my goal but once you get one no matter what happens if I get into an accident tomorrow & never wrestle again, I still have that one title. I won’t be saying ‘gosh I wish I had gotten a title!’ because I already have it so anything else will be just bonus.
5) When you wrestle are you able to, in the heat of battle, just get caught up in the emotions & the crowd & everything or are you the kind of guy that just tunes everything out & you are able to focus right in on the match? Quinn, OH
I would say that it depends. The goal is to focus on the match & whenever I focus on the match I wrestle the best but sometimes I get caught up in the emotion of everything else that is going on. But if I want to perform my best I have to focus on the match. And that is usually when I do the best, when I am the most focused like that. I know in dual meets it is easy to get caught up in the emotions of everything going on but tournaments it is a little easier to focus in on your own match.
6) Besides winning the NCAAs, what dual meets do you think you got caught up in the emotion of everything, in the spirit of the moment there?
I would say that when I wrestled against Iowa (Gambrall) & Minnesota (Steinhaus) I got caught up TOO much in the emotion of everything.
7) Do you think that is the reason why you did not wrestle as well as you
could have against those opponents at that time?
Yea, definitely, I mean I didn’t make smart choices in the match. My strategy going into the matches were a little bit off which caused me to make a few poor decisions while wrestling.
8) I read some where that after the post-NCAA championship presser, you mentioned that on February 9th, everything changed for you. Do you care to elaborate on what that means exactly? What happened on that date? CTC, TOM
Oh I decided to believe in myself really. I realized I can’t let myself rely on anyone else to win for me; I can’t rely on the coaches to win for me either. I knew that I was just going to have to do it all myself. After the Iowa match, I decided to take personal ownership of the rest of my wrestling career. I said to myself that if I am going to win, then I am going to have to be the one who is going to have to do it & this is how I am going to have to do it. I found the system that I felt comfortable with. My mental attitude changed & that started changing my actions. I started doing wrestling techniques & weight-lifting techniques that really made me happy. Once I was happy with that stuff, my actions changed in the wrestling room. Then it changed out on the mat. It changed after 4 or 5 weeks.
9) Was there any point after you made that decision that you felt like you were back? Mike, PA
Yea I would say, right before the Minnesota match. I felt like I was back but then I went out there & got majored by Steinhaus. Then I lost in overtime, (EDIT: Actually on a last second reversal to Dallago of Illinois) & then I got pinned, (by Rutt of Wisconsin). I felt like I was back but it just didn’t show up in the matches yet.
10) So when you went to the Big Tens & were seeded 8th, how did you take that: as an insult or as a reflection of where you were really at at that time? Did you use it as a motivation to show these guys who you really were? What were your thoughts regarding that seeding?
I was kind of nervous because I thought that if I wrestled that seed, I wasn’t going to go to the NCAAs. So I took it as a challenge. I knew I had to just go out there & focus on every match & win. And then win the next match. I knew I just had to be at least one point ahead of the other opponent so that is what I focused upon.
11) When did it become real to you that you could win a Big Ten title? Did you think that coming in at all?
I felt that way, after my quarterfinal match, against Rutt, (Wisconsin). He was seeded 1st & ranked 3rd in the country. After that, I was like, ‘Man I am winning this tournament’ or at least that is what I said to myself. I knew I still had to get past Dallago (Illinois) & that I had to face whomever in the finals. I knew that is what I had to keep focused upon: take it one match at a time & just keep going towards my dream. After I got by Rutt, I was like, wow he is a tough opponent, so once I got past him I thought I am really going to do this. I am at the top of my game right now & I just have to be one point ahead at the end of the 7 minutes.
12) The last few weeks of the season was some the worst wrestling results you’ve had but that was followed up by the next few weeks being some of the best wrestling you have ever done. What do you attribute that 180 degree turn around to? Tom, TWT; RY, NJ
Like I said before, I just started wrestling within myself. Now also my coaches & teammates they were positive with me the whole time & they really helped me out. And I have to say that a really special part of it was my fiancée Lauren Woodring. Her whole family has just been behind me this whole time.
Her grandfather, Earl Harris was a PIAA champ from Philipsburg-Osceola back in 1958. That is a school not too far from here. His record going into districts was 4-4-2. He was just having a horrible year. He did a lot with me mentally. He kept me positive. He would say “Hey! It is not about where you start. It is about where you end! You still got it”
So her whole family was really there for me. Especially after I hurt my shoulder, they really took care of me. They are one of biggest reasons I made it. They were there to support me the whole time.
The coaches were behind me no matter what. Sometimes in the middle of doing drills, Cael would shout out “Quentin Wright, National Champion!” That really stuck with me.
13) There was a lot of talk amongst the fan base & on the internet with regards to what was going on with you. Were you aware of any of that stuff? Did you know about some of it just being gossip? Mike, PA
Lauren’s family & Lauren herself hide a lot of that stuff from me. I have been going through some things. I have been having some disagreements with my Dad about, well, about LIFE. He kind of decided to prove a point. He was telling me how to handle it. And people were saying ‘Oh he is having problems with his family, his girlfriend’ but I was having a string of bad luck going through all of that. I lost the 1st match & then I blew out my shoulder & it just took a long time to get back into it.
People are always going to gossip. They are always going to find reasons for why you are not performing well. But you can’t know what someone else is going through until you are in their shoes. You can’t judge & you never really know what is going on. You never know the whole story. You can’t point fingers you just have to hope that they pull through it. The best you can do for them is just pray for them.
14) You said that you had to get back that belief in yourself. Is there a point in time where you can see where it disappeared? Or did it slowly erode over time?
It eroded really before the season stated. I don’t want to be putting anybody down but I was so used to people telling me what was right & what was wrong. I was so used to taking orders that all I had to do was just do it that when the season started & I was having these issues with my Dad, we quit talking. And now I was completely on my own whereas before I wasn’t.
And a year & half ago, Cael brought in this whole new system that was different from how I ever wrestled. So I just quit being myself. I kept trying to hit the ankle picks & forcing it to work. I was saying to the coaches, “Hey this isn’t working for me” & they said “well just keep working on it, just keep working on it. Just give it time. It is going to work for you” I kept working on it & I just wasn’t happy with it for a year & half. I kept trying it & trying it & I started winning more matches, but they were not against the guys who the top 3 or 4 guys at Nationals. I was beating the other kids using their system but then I lost that 1st match. So it just eroded over 18 months that belief of what I felt I could do as a wrestler.
After that loss to Iowa I said forget about this, I am going to go back to doing what I was good at, what I had fun doing. Because when you are not yourself, you are not happy, you are not having fun. What happened at the beginning of the season was that I was trying to be somebody else; I was trying to be a different wrestler then what I was. And I wasn’t having any fun doing that. I was just treating practices like a boring job. I was going in there going about 90%, I wasn’t going in there 100% at all. And that was all because I wasn’t having any fun. I had no motivation.
After the Iowa match I said to myself ‘forget about this. I am going back to having fun to what made me happy & I am going to go into practice with a smile on my face. I am going to go try & throw people now!’ Forget the ankle pick I am going to body lock him & slam him!
And that is what I tried everyday in practice. And I started having so much fun. And the funny thing is, all the things that Cael was trying to teach me, the things that worked for me, just started incorporating themselves into my game & made me a better overall wrestler. I took the stuff that I was really good at & his own little techniques that he brought with him & once I put them together I really used ALL of those lessons in order to win the national tournament. And they worked!
15) So the coaches didn’t try to stop the throws? So in the end it sounds like you went back to what worked for you but were you still utilizing what the coaches were teaching you? Gantry, IL
Yes exactly. I wasn’t too good at the ankle picks but the little stuff like hand control & pushing the elbows, non-stop moving your feet were all the things that Cael brought in. I took all the things from him that worked for me. And it wasn’t like I thought about them either. It was just: I DID THEM.
16) What happened in the semi-final vs. Grant Gambrall? Were you just going for a takedown there or did you shoot & then suddenly realized that you had the cradle? Or was that the plan all along: Get him in a standing cradle? Eric, VA
It all really was just instinct. It just came together for me. Where I really didn’t plan it, it just sort of happened so I went for it. I realized that I had my hands locked in a cradle but he was on his feet, so I stepped around & hooked his leg, and took him right to his back & then I wasn’t letting go. So I really wasn’t planning on it, I was just going for a takedown but then my hands were in the right spot & it just came together at the right time. I realized I had the cradle & went for it & got the pin.
17) In the past year I have rarely seen Cael get angry or break a smile. Maybe you have seen those emotions in the room, but was that the most excited you have ever seen Coach Sanderson after you got that pin? RH, TOM
Yea, definitely. That is the most excited I have ever seen him. In the room, I have seen his full range of emotions this whole season and it was really great to see him that happy. He is usually happy like that when we are in the practice room. Every time he comes into the room he is smiling. But definitely the most excited I have ever seen Cael was during that match.
18) Have you seen any of the photographs from that match?
Aw yea, I have seen them in all the interviews. I saw how Casey Cunningham jumped like 10 feet in the air & everything. It was crazy! It was a great experience. We all make fun of the coaches still for it because usually they are real reserved but they were going crazy right then.
19) Yea they were like little kids. I have the picture on my desktop where you are about to get the pin while Cael is on all fours ready to slap the mat & Casey has him by the shoulder, grabbing him about ready to scream. Have you seen that one?
Oh yea, the day after, our Sports Information Direction Pat Donghia tweeted it out to all the guys & then we were getting on the Coaches cases about it. Caels’ whole face turned red because he was embarrassed about getting caught up in the moment like that. It was pretty fun. He was happy! We might be that one framed & give it to him or something, as a practical joke, (laughs).
20) So after that did you hit up any Philly Cheese steak places? Like Gino’s Pat’s or Jim’s? EL, PA
No we were stuck at Wawas every night. I didn’t get to go try one, but that is one of my goals to get to try a real Philly Cheesesteak one day!
21) What effect does your Christian faith have upon your wrestling & attitude in life, especially when you were having your ups & downs this year? Tom, TWT; Buck, TOM
It made all the difference in the world. I really had to focus when I look back on this whole season. And the people around me, they all believed in & had faith in me too. I tell people that accepting Jesus Christ is the most important thing in this world not matter what else you do. Everything else falls behind that. That is how I live my life.
No body is ever perfect. You are going to make mistakes; you are going to make poor
decisions in life just like in a wrestling match. But the sun is going to come up tomorrow & there is going to be a new day. Life is not made to be lived perfectly. Sometimes you are going to make bad decisions & you are going to have to bounce back up. Don’t make excuses but enjoy the journey. And that is what makes it so memorable: the journey, the process.
22) Did you ever find yourself asking God in your prayers or conversations, why this was happening? Or did you just have faith that there was a plan for your life?
Oh definitely. I do that everyday, especially right after I got hurt & all these things were going on I was like “WHAT IS GOING ON? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?” I tried to do everything right & it just seemed like I am failing the most. Had I known this was going to happen, well, looking back on it, there are so many different lessons that I learned this season that have shaped me, formed me as a person. In the long run it was all for the better but it was really rough going through it. I will be looking back on this for the rest of my life.
23) What do you think was the most important lesson you learned?
Just how to be positive you know? Have a good attitude & not to blame others. And really all that could be summed up into ENJOYING LIFE. Don’t do what you don’t enjoy because you have no motivation if you don’t enjoy it. And that is what I really learned. That life is mean to be enjoyed. No matter what you are going through always enjoy it. You don’t have to enjoy what is happening to you but you can find a way to be happy with regards to where you are & look for tomorrow. You can always have hope no matter what. God is always there for you so I just rely on him. He is there to help you & to catch you & form you as a person.
24) Did you have a particular passage in the Bible you looked to, to help you through this troubling time?
Yes, Psalms 91. I was reading that over & over. Especially when it came to wrestling because it talks about God being the father & just stay under him & he is going to protect you. 1000 may at your right hand, 10,000 may fall, but keep him near you as he will lift you up. He will hold you up. Um that’s not quoted exactly right but that is the main gist of it where he is there to protect you through your whole life no matter what you do. You have to rely on him as you can’t do anything alone. He is apart of everything you do.
25) Often our parent’s views shape our political opinions & spiritual beliefs. At one point did your faith become your own? H, The Mat
It was when I went to a Christian camp, an outdoor camp in Pennsylvania. I was about 12 years old when I started doing everything on my own, doing it all myself. I was just trying to grow as a person. And that has been really a key factor in enjoying life. Just understanding sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen but who you are as a person determines what you make of it. How you treat people is important. From that comes the blessings.
If you treat people good then you are probably going to have a good life, there are going to be blessings coming your way. And that’s what my whole life is based off of, that comes first. Everything else is really just helps you enjoy life. That’s what life is meant for: enjoyment. Life teaches us how to have a relationship with God, with Jesus. We have to realize that we can’t do this on our own & that we need him. If we try to ignore him, we are going to be miserable. We don’t understand things but if we get to know him & our relationship with him grows, he starts to teach you in life, through the Bible, you start to understand things. And life becomes more enjoyable.
26) Do you follow Soccer at all? RH, TOM
Nah, not really but I do watch America in the World Cup & I know that one guy, the best soccer player in America, (Landon) Donovan. He is a pretty cool dude.
27) What are your plans after college? Do you want to get into international & freestyle wrestling? Go on to Coaching or on to a career? What do you see yourself doing? Turk, CA; Bud, The Mat; PW, TOM,
I want to go into business but I also want to compete for 2 or 3 Olympic cycles. I want to make the Olympic team & World Teams. I want to win some World & Olympic medals. Then after that I kind of want to get to the business world & make a difference. I want to be an entrepreneur, own my own company, run my own company. Or maybe I could work at some big company, where I can be managing people hopefully. That is what I see myself doing. I do have to see where wrestling takes me because I am not going to throw out coaching. I could end being a coach someday too so it all depends where the cards fall & wherever life takes me.
28) What sort of business would you like to start?
I am not sure, maybe an internet based business or something to do with wrestling, like a wrestling camp system. Or maybe I would like to do a restaurant, start & build it up, make it famous. I am open for a lot of things. I would like to find my niche. I would love to start a recording studio because I love messing around with music. I am very musical. I have a lot of options & eventually I am going to do something that I love to do.
29) If you had a choice to go to the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup Finals or the Summer Olympics to watch wrestling, (as a spectator) what would you choose? Quinn, OH
I’d say the Summer Olympics just because there are more people involved, more hype, more countries. And next to that I’d have to pick the Super Bowl. That would be pretty crazy too.
30) Speaking of the Olympics, are you planning on doing a Olympic Red Shirt year? PW, TOM
It is up to the coaching staff really. Whatever they feel is best for me in terms of wrestling. Red shirt years are hard. You don’t get to go out in front of the big crowd. But it is really up to them. Whatever they feel is best.