Though he has regularly been featured on 5PM since enrolling at Northern Michigan University in the fall of 2017, E50 marks the first time Benji Peak (72 kg, Sunkist/NTS) appears on the podcast — and, as expected, he doesn’t disappoint.
Known around these parts as “Mr. Fantastic”, Peak has burrowed into wrestling’s mainstream consciousness over the past year perhaps more than any other American Greco athlete, save for those on the Tokyo Olympic Team. It began with his startling run to a National crown last October, gathered major steam thanks to his memorable showing at the Olympic Trials, and then continued in late-May with a dominating effort that resulted in a spot on the U23 World Team.
The aforementioned Olympic Team Trials, contested during the first weekend of April, is the tournament most responsible for elevating Peak’s profile. One by one, Peak usurped a string of tough, highly-established contenders, including ’19 World Teamer Ray Bunker in the semifinal of the challenge bracket. All of the Wisconsin native’s victories were recorded via technical superiority, and fans inside of Dickies Arena who were previously unaware of Peak soon found it difficult to get his name out of their mouths. Even those within United States Greco’s more insular community had taken notice, as well, ultimately delivering one of the more talked-about individual performances from an athlete in recent years.
The show begins with a brief but suitable rehashing of the Trials, centering mostly around Peak’s excitable persona and pre-match routine, along with why such machinations should become more common. Weight class issues are also discussed. Peak, who has competed at 67 kilograms the past few seasons, went up to 72 for the U23 Trials, and he explains how and why the climb makes sense at this juncture of his career. Finally, the conversation shifts towards the upcoming training phase for the U23 Worlds. With a sizable amount of time to prepare, Peak shares what his plans entail leading up to November.
A Few Highlights
Peak on his thoughts prior to the Olympic Trials
“Once I qualified, it was like, I’ve got to put a run on. It was, No one expects me to do anything — and when I have no pressure on me, I always wrestle the best I can. When I have a lot of pressure, I sometimes struggle a little bit. But when I have no pressure, I always wrestle super-well. So I knew going into the tournament, and when I saw this draw and everything, that I could do some big damage in that bracket.”
Peak on pre-match preparation
“If I’m nonchalantly warming up, I’m going to go out there and nonchalantly wrestle. But if I’m ‘100%, I’m going to kill this dude‘ going in there, I’m going to wrestle so much harder. I feel like everything flows better. I’m more focused in on the task at hand. When I’m warming up, I say a hundred times that ‘I’m the best’ before I wrestle. I feel like even though I might not be the best, if you say something enough times you’re going to trick yourself into believing it. And all that is going to do is increase your confidence.”
Peak on gaining size for 72 kilograms
“Lucas Steldt put me on a diet and, honestly, it has been working really well. I’m definitely putting on some weight and he has me lifting a lot more. I am definitely putting on some pretty solid size and I am just trying to grow into 72 a little more.”