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USA Wrestling/Richard Immel Spotlight Ty Walz

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USA Wrestling/Richard Immel Spotlight Ty Walz

Postby Allen Brown » Thu Nov 26, 2015 2:41 pm

BY RICHARD IMMEL USA WRESTLING
NOV. 26, 2015

The 2014 NWCA National Duals is a tournament Ty Walz will always remember, but not for the reasons one might expect.

Walz entered St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio as a redshirt freshman for Virginia Tech, ranked No. 16 in the heavyweight division, filled with lofty expectations. He exited with three losses and much to consider.

“That was by far the worst weekend of wrestling I’ve ever had in my life,” Walz said. “I was as low as you could possibly go and that’s something I always draw upon and learn from when I’m maybe going through a tough time or didn’t have the best match. I think maybe that whole weekend kind of changed me. I realized how bad it could be and I got through it.”

Since that difficult weekend in Columbus, Walz has morphed himself into a serious national title contender.

Growing up in of Cleveland, Ohio, Walz first saw wrestling as a way to fill time after football season. He joined his middle school wrestling team in seventh grade and was hooked.

After electing to attend nationally respected St. Edward High School with aspirations of playing football, Walz made a crucial decision to focus solely on wrestling after his freshman year.

“I guess I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I finished my freshman football season, then it was wrestling season and I just started doing it. I figured I wasn’t getting any taller or any faster, so I could probably go to a better school for wrestling because I was getting pretty good at it,” said Walz.

Little did Walz know when he transferred to St. Edward that he would be part of one of the top high school wrestling traditions in the country. St. Edward’s has won 29 Ohio Division I State Championships on top of 11 national titles.

”I was surrounded by great guys there, so I eventually got pretty good, and by senior year I was one of the better guys on the team. We had some big name guys and those are the guys I look up to and strive to be like,” said Walz.

There is one small tradition that St. Edward’s wrestlers have carried out after graduating from the banner program. For over 20 straight years, St. Edward’s has produced at least one NCAA All-American at the Division I level.

Walz carried that banner last year finishing in seventh place at the NCAA Championships. Other notable St. Edward’s wrestlers competing in Division I this year include Dean Heil of Oklahoma State, Mark Martin of Ohio State and Domenic Abounader of Michigan.

“We are just carrying out tradition still. If the Eagles had their own team points score at the NCAA tournament, I think we’d do pretty well,” said Walz.

Graduating high school with one state title, Walz found the perfect fit for competing at the next level with Coach Kevin Dresser and Virginia Tech. However, his recruiting process was not without its unique challenges.

“It seemed like every time I’d turn around a door would close. I liked Michigan, but then they recruited Adam Coon. I liked Illinois, but then they recruited Brooks Black. So I guess I kind of put a little chip on my shoulder. I fell in love with Virginia Tech and Coach Dresser,” said Walz.

In actuality, it was a simple Facebook message between college teammates, St. Edward’s coach John Heffernan and Dresser, that connected Walz to Virginia Tech. Moreover, his mother and sister live right up the road from Blacksburg, Va. in Asheville, N.C., making the decision to attend Virginia Tech that much easier.

After arriving on campus weighing around 220 pounds, Walz was faced with a tough decision to drop down to 197 pounds or bulk up and compete at 285 pounds for the Hokies. After weighing the options, Walz began to pack on the pounds and prepare for a collegiate career at heavyweight.

“Dresser wanted me to wrestle heavyweight the whole time. I actually wanted to wrestle 197. Now I’m really happy I never did that. I felt that if I wrestled 97, I would never have been limited by my size. It would all have been wrestling skills that determined if I won or lost, not a guy being 50 pounds heavier than me. But now, I think the size, where I’m at, 245, is perfect. I feel like I have an advantage with my size at heavyweight,” said Walz.

Entering the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman, Walz experienced many of wrestling’s ups and downs, but did make his way to the NCAA tournament, where he won two matches before falling short of the All-American rounds.

Walz attributes a change in mental preparation and practice performance after his freshman campaign as the reason for his growth and success on the mat up to this point.

“I feel like I was the same wrestler as I was my redshirt freshman year, but what I changed was I got my head on my side. Mentally, I was really tough. I went into every single match knowing I would win it and actually believing that I was going to win,” said Walz.

This belief has helped prepare Walz for big moments.

One major moment came last year when Walz upended longtime rival Nick Tavanello of Ohio State in overtime to clinch a dual meet win for the Hokies over the eventual NCAA champions.

The Hokie heavyweight began this season with another big moment. He earned a statement win over returning NCAA finalist Adam Coon of Michigan at the NWCA All-Star Classic. Walz dominated Coon en route to a 9-3 victory.

Walz hopes to continue his streak of success against the top heavyweights in the nation by opening up his offense and putting on a show.

“I like to score points. I hate looking at the scoreboard and seeing 2-1 or 3-2. It definitely upsets me on the inside. We talk about growing the sport of wrestling, and in order to grow the sport and make it more popular, I think you should pick more guys up and slam them down on their heads,” said Walz.

Walz admits he must continue to develop as a wrestler and remain consistent should he hope to achieve the ultimate goal of becoming a NCAA champion in 2016.

“Practicing consistently tough and hard, it’s going to show when you go out and wrestle,” said Walz.

Standing in the way of a NCAA title for Walz is a talented heavyweight field headlined by one of the more dynamic heavyweights ever to come through the college ranks, two-time NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State.

“He’s the guy I have to beat. It might sound weird but I think about that guy every single day. When I go to sleep at night and when I wake up in the morning he’s the guy I’m thinking about. Every shot that I take in practice, every move that I drill is to get better so I can beat him, so I can beat one hundred percent of the guys in the country,” said Walz.

The lively Virginia Tech heavyweight expects to make his mark this season and become the first NCAA champion in Virginia Tech history, while leading the Hokies to a NCAA team trophy in the process.

“I plan on being the first national champ in Virginia Tech history. I’ve said that more than I’ve ever said it before and I think about it every single day. I’m making it known and I’m going to do it,” Walz said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys on the team that could win it this year. That’s how good we are.”

Next up for Walz and the sixth-ranked Virginia Tech squad is the Cliff Keen/Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 4-5.
Allen Brown
 

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