Visit from an Olympian

PARKERSBURG – Tuesday finally arrived and everyone at Edison Middle School’s practice was more than amped to spend their last tune-up before today’s opening round of the 54th annual Wood County Wrestling Championships inside Parkersburg’s Memorial Fieldhouse with Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs.

“It was awesome. I was just excited the whole time,” said EMS 171-pound No. 1 seed Braxton Amos, whose top prize for winning the #IamAWrestler essay contest sponsored by Flips Wrestling was getting the chance to hang out with Burroughs, the 2012 London Olympic Games’ 74 kg gold medalist.

Eagle head mat coach Tammy Newhart, whose squad is ranked No. 1 in the Mountain State and is heavily favored to win the two-day county tournament, said Burroughs was “very nice and very personable and he really seems to enjoy the kids. He has fun with the kids, but he has a lot to offer the kids.”

Burroughs, who will be the opening ceremonies guest of honor tonight, will speak in front of the student body at Edison Middle School this morning then plans to meet up with the wrestling programs of Parkersburg South and Parkersburg.

Currently an assistant coach at Nebraska, where he captured two NCAA titles and was honored with the Hodge Trophy as the nation’s best grappler, Burroughs stressed to the kids to not only train hard, but “confidence comes from our preparations. It (wrestling) never gets easier. You’re either getting better or getting left behind.”

This was the first time Burroughs had been in West Virginia and he said he’s still training and competing.

At the beginning of March, he’ll compete in Belarus at the Alexander Medved Tournament and then he’ll be coaching at the NCAA national championships.

When asked if he was able to get out and spend time like this around youth wrestlers he admitted, “rarely, rarely because I’m so busy and I’ve got a son who is almost 7 months old. He’s relatively young and I try to spend as much time with my family as possible.

“The training has a busy schedule in itself. Training and competing takes a lot of my time as well.”

Only a one-time state champion in New Jersey, the ex-Cornhusker replied when asked where his drive came from as a youth, “I realized at a young age that I was solid, but I realized that I had a high ability to improve. I never accepted my current situation as being the best that I could be. I tell kids that all the time.

“I was a one-time state champ. I was hardly recruited in college and I was 16-13 as a freshman in college and I finished off with two NCAA championships. Anything is possible. There is really no secret to success besides just working your butt off every single day. That’s the hard part, staying engaged, staying fired up and motivated to do hard work every day.”

He added, “it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. I’ve been lucky enough to be extremely successful and win quite a bit of things in my career and I got a couple more things I’d like to win.”

Burroughs, the face of Flips Wrestling products, was more than happy with how things went during Edison’s practice.

“For me to come here is huge for these guys,” he admitted. “The only tangible piece of me really is my wrestling shoes and my headphones for a lot of these kids.

“A lot of kids around the country, they will never meet me, never get to take a picture with. The only thing they ever know about me is Youtube, magazines they get to their home and headphones and wrestling shoes.”

As much as all the Eagles’ wrestlers were pumped about their final practice of the season, it was Burroughs who was honored the most being around coach Newhart’s program.

“For me to come here and get to meet these guys and hang out with Braxton Amos and the rest of these guys here is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I’m happy to be here and give back to the wrestling community.

“It’s big stuff. I like to engage with my fans. These are the guys who support me, watch me and they are the guys who buy our product. These are the guys I want to give back to and show how much we appreciate them.”

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