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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

sports wrestling

One last shot: Wrestler goes for NCAA title in final season

Senior IU wrestler Matt Powless

Most people spend one-third of their lives sleeping. Senior Matt Powless has spent two-thirds of his life wrestling.

Since age 6, Powless has gone through thousands of practices and hundreds of matches to be the best wrestler he can be. This year, Powless will put everything on the line one last time in hopes of winning an NCAA title.

Powless started wrestling when he was in first grade with every intention of becoming a WWE star.

“I was ready to be the next Stone Cold Steve Austin,” Powless said.

It didn’t take long for him to realize that wrestling at school wasn’t the same as wrestling for the WWE.

“In first and second grade, I couldn’t even make varsity, which is pretty bad,” Powless said. “I was never a superstar by any means.”

Powless’ inspiration to keep pursuing wrestling came after he learned his father was a wrestler for the University of Evansville.

“I found out my dad wrestled, and that was my inspiration,” Prowless said. “I wanted to be just like him.”

In the beginning, wrestling was only one of the many sports Powless was involved in, with his favorite being baseball. However, as the years went on, Powless became focused on fewer sports. In high school, he played football and wrestled.

“As I got older, I don’t know what it was, but wrestling just clicked, and I got better and better,” Powless said.

It was at Memorial High School in Evansville where Powless not only rose in weight classes but also climbed in the rankings.After winning a state title his senior year of high school, Powless was looking to wrestle at the next level.

Though he wasn’t very highly recruited, Powless decided to wrestle for IU. The transition wasn’t easy.

“It was pretty obvious that he had never been outside of his city,” teammate and senior Matt Ortega said. “I’m from New Mexico, and the first time I met him, he thought I didn’t speak English.”

However, it wasn’t just being away from home that was tough. Powless said he had a hard time finding a place for himself on the mat.

“Confidence was definitely an issue,” Powless said. “I didn’t really think I belonged here at first. I got my butt kicked all year.”

Through seeing the team psychologist and working harder in the wrestling room, Powless said he began to get a better grip on college life.

During his career at IU, Powless has won the Michigan State Open, placed three times at the Big Ten Championships, placed eighth at the NCAA Championships and been named to the NWCA All-Academic team for three straight seasons. He is also a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.

This season, Powless continues to improve his already impressive record. He has recently cracked the IU Wrestling Top Ten list for most career wins. Powless is currently ranked No. 10 in all-time career wins in IU history with a total of 112 wins thus far.

Due to a knee injury, Powless has had to put his 23-3 season on hold momentarily. Even though he is expected to be back to health soon, there is always a risk of being
reinjured.

“It would have to come down to our athletic trainer, Kip, telling me I absolutely could not wrestle for me not to wrestle,” Powless said. “Kip knows how bad I want this, and I think short of having to amputate my leg, he would let me wrestle.”

Powless said he is also looking for another shot at the NCAA title this March. After earning 8th place last year, Powless said he can’t wait to go back.

“With the time I have left, I’m going to keep going into practice and solidifying what I’m good at,” Powless said. “I’ve got to make sure I’m at the top of my game going in there.”

His teammates said they have seen his focus and determination to win the title.
“I definitely have confidence in him,” Ortega said. “Whenever he has his mind focused on something, he does everything he can to get it.”

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