The fourth episode of The Five Point Move Podcast, presented by Mat Talk Online, features two-time World Team member and two-time US Senior National Champion Cheney Haight (80 kg, NYAC). Haight has remained one of the most durable, consistent, and respected athletes in the country ever since his arrival in full back when he was a student at Northern Michigan University and training under legendary coach Ivan Ivanov. As an athlete, the 32-year-old of Orem, Utah is known for his eagerness to bring pressure and a positively deadly arm throw that he can hit from just about anywhere. In addition to his actual on-the-mat abilities, Haight is a humble, understated gentleman who carries himself like a true professional (hence, why we had to have him as a guest).
Last month in Las Vegas, Haight captured that second World Team spot by defeating rugged vet and former Trials finalist Courtney Myers (Army/WCAP) in the semifinals before getting by emerging Marine John Stefanowicz in two straight to cap that series. A week later in Brazil, the Olympic Training Center resident kept the ball rolling with two technical fall victories to notch his second consecutive gold at the Pan Am Championships. From here on out for Cheney, it will first be the prestigious Tbilisi Grand Prix in Georgia, a camp in Hungary, and then the final push to the 2017 World Championships in Paris.
We talk to Haight and discuss his recent wins in Vegas and Brazil, and also touch on various aspects of his career and training. In addition, co-hosts Tim Hands of Five Point Move and World Champion Dennis Hall get into Greco-Roman’s exclusion from the annual Beat the Streets event, the notion of setting up domestic duals, and some other fun stuff.
A few highlights
Haight on if securing his second World Team spot felt special
“It did, but when I came back to wrestling, in my mind, I didn’t come back just to get on a team. In my mind, I think I came back because I still felt I could do more than I’ve done. So I think what’s exciting about being on the team is that I get an opportunity to do that.”
Haight on if he had an attack plan against Stefanowicz in the World Team Trials finals
“Yeah, I did. Both times I wrestled him, I mean, I didn’t even know who he was before this year. But going into the match, both times I wrestled him, he racked up a bunch of points and I had to come back from a deficit. I knew he was the type of guy if you did anything dumb, he could take advantage of it. So I knew I was going to kind of start the match out hard, but I wasn’t going to make mistakes. I wanted to keep the pressure on and keep it close. I knew I didn’t want to do anything too dangerous with him.”
Haight on still being at the top of his game
“I feel like I’m the best I ever have been right now. I mean, my style has probably changed just because I think I know more than I used to, but I still try to push the pace. I remember when I first started wrestling, watching American guys like (Dennis) Hall, (Jim) Gruenwald, (Kevin) Bracken and stuff — that kind of style they had, that in-your-face style was what made me love Greco. I still try to keep that but at the same time, I am still trying to develop technique just to better myself that way.”
Hall on events like Beat the Streets excluding Greco
“If we want to get medals, we got to have our best wrestlers getting good, quality matches in, you know? I mean, the freestylers get good matches every year at Beat the Streets, which helps them prepare mentally to compete against the best in the world. And why can’t we do that for Greco in the United States? We need somebody to step up and do something like that and make it where our top Greco guys get a great match.”