Jordan Blanton, 2x Class A State Champion and 2007 Class AA Runner-Up from Richmond Burton, shares his thoughts and experiences
Blanton's Blog 6
Posted by Jordan Blanton on November 18, 2010
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Blantonís Blog 6
Hey everyone! I have some time before practice, so I figured Iíd try and keep you guys updated on whatís going on down here. We had a pretty successful weekend that just passed as we beat Mizzou 18-13. I think overall everyone did a lot of good things, but we still have a lot to work on. It was really nice to be tested early both individually and as a team because it let us know where we were at on November 12. Now on November 18 I think all of us are 6 days closer and better than we were last Friday.
Individually, I think I did a lot of good things in my match early, but let some of the situations and critical points in the match get away from me. I was in a few times really deep on shots and had trouble finishing, which is usually something Iím pretty good at. I think itís just a matter of hustling to the scores when Iím in and fighting to score at times whenís I can put a match out of reach. There was a point in the second period where I was ahead 3-1 and getting a takedown gives me a chance to go up 5-1 and not let it come down to the end of the match where an opponent can sneak in a late takedown. I wasnít wrestling at the level I want to be, but it is November and itís really all practice until we get to March. Iíve spent some time talking to Mike Poeta, John Dergo, and all of my coaches on things I need to improve on and feel I can correct some of those mistakes my next time out, which is at the All Star Classic this Sunday in Fresno, California.
Speaking of Cali, I cannot wait for this opportunity. Iíve been watching the All Star Classic for a lot of years and am truly blessed to have the opportunity to compete in it against a very tough competitor. Itís going to be another tough match that Iím going to need to fight for 7 minutes to win. I feel prepared and confident and am just excited to get out there and get after it.
Now Iím going to take a little time to respond to some of the questions you guys asked for me to talk about in this weeks blog.
As far as some of the lessons Iíve learned in the transition from high school to college, there have been many. I was lucky enough to graduate from high school at the end of May 2008, and started to take classes in June of 2008 down here and start practicing with the team. I remember my first time practicing was with John Dergo and we went early before the rest of the team. I got my butt kicked from one side of the room to another and found myself trying for throws and doing some of the most elementary moves I knew because I was so flustered. I ended up getting beat so bad the coaches made Dergo stay after and workout with the team because he didnít get enough of a workout from our practice. LOL. At that point it was a little crazy for me. I wasnít too broken, but I was just wondering what I had gotten myself into! As the days went on, I could feel myself getting closer and closer to competing with some of the guys in the room and Iíll never forget the first time I felt like I could compete with those guys. I was wrestling a freestyle practice with Matt Lackey about 3-4 weeks into the summer and scored a couple takedowns and felt like I was battling. From there on it was just about getting better everyday and trying to beat whoever I was wrestling. Every now and then I still have those practices where I feel helpless, but I think thatís just part of the sport and I think I dish out a couple of those practices once in awhile too. Coming into college I think I had a lot of the basic fundamentals of college wrestling down. I enjoyed hand fighting and working from ties to score, and I was comfortable on bottom and could escape from most people. Those things along with a good work ethic and conditioning, I think, are the most important skills to have headed into college for a wrestler like myself. I think that every wrestler is different, but that is whatís always worked best for me, and it was a great base to build off of.
The lessons really havenít stopped since the first couple weeks in the room, however. I competed my freshman year at 184 and had a bunch of bumps in the road and Ďhead scratchingí losses, but I just tried to learn from them and use the lessons learned everytime I stepped on the mat following them. My freshman year ended in an anticlimactic way, as I went 0-2 at the NCAA tournament, but I used it as a motivator throughout the offseason to prepare myself for my sophomore year. My sophomore year as a whole was HUGE learning experience. I injured my shoulder early and had to fight through the season with the constant nagging of the injury. It was a challenge to train the way I wanted and it took me awhile to learn what to do. I lost 3 out of my last 4 big ten dual matches, and it was a huge turning point in my career. I had the option of taking a back seat and letting these guys I was losing to stay ahead of me, or I could have kept my mind right and keep believing in what I was doing and in my coaches. I finished 3rd at the big tens and 5th at the NCAAís; avenging loses to 3 opponents from earlier in the year. It was a great way to end the year, and I learned so much about the importance of fighting for a full 7 minutes and how strong the mind is when you are competing.
Having gone through those struggles and accomplishing what I have so far in the sport is one of the most enjoyable things in my life. I am excited everyday to go to practice and love every minute of the training Iím doing. My body feels good and Iím getting a lot done in the wrestling room everyday. My mind is right and Iím just excited to have this opportunity to compete for a national championship. I have 30 teammates that are training with everything they have, everyday, and weíre gunning for the number one spot. We have the talent and the coaching, we just need to go out and prove that we are the best. Itís a long season, but itíll be over before we know it and itís up to us to do whatever we have to in order to accomplish our goals.
Itís a great time to be a fan of The University of Illinois Fighting Illini and Jim Heffernanís Fighting Illini Wrestling Program. Iíll try and get another blog done after the All Star Classic, but if I donít do it in time for Thanksgiving, I hope everyone has a great holiday!
Hereís a link to a couple of articles on some of my teammates from this week: