Last night in Rochester, Minnesota, Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm) captured the 85 kilogram crown at the 2017 US U23 World Team Trials, defeating Storm teammate Rich Carlson in two straight bouts to seal the deal.
Stanghill, 23, initially carved out his place on the national Greco-Roman scene while attending Northern Michigan. Upon graduation last year, he joined the Storm and instantly raised his profile, earning third-place honors at both the 2016 Non-Olympic Weight World Team Trials and the US Open in December. At the Senior Trials in April, Stanghill nearly clinched a spot on the National Team but was turned back in controversial fashion by WCAP’s Courtney Myers. In June, the Montana native went up a weight class to 85 kilos and picked up his second University National title (meeting Carlson in the finals of that one, as well).
A few weeks later, Stanghill, along with dual-style National Teamer Hayden Zillmer (98 kg, Minnesota Storm) competed at the Ljubomir Ivanovic Gedza International in Serbia and finished fifth. But his eyes throughout the summer remained fixed on this event. Making a World Team is a goal for all athletes and now that Stanghill has done it, we felt it was a good time to see how he felt afterwards and what he thought about his performance and the process leading up.
5PM: What was different going into this event, your third at 85 kilograms, and also the fact that this is the second Trials event taking place at an odd time of year? What was the overall approach?
Barrett Stanghill: I was very motivated to make this team because I really wanted a shot at the World Championships. I went up to Northern for two weeks and I was there for one week with Ivan (Ivanov) to work with the dummies and the Bulgarian Bags, and that has helped a lot. I’ve been doing it every day, it has definitely helped my conditioning and my strength. And the other week up at Northern, we wrestled hard and then I came back to Minnesota where we fine-tuned everything. I was still doing the Bulgarian Bags every day.
I was more motivated, I’ve been working on my mindset, and I have also been really strict with my diet getting everything right, especially with the diabetes and making sure everything is in check. I don’t know, everything kind of fell into place this tournament it felt like.
5PM: Does 85 now feel worn in, does it feel comfortable?
Stanghill: Yeah, it does. I weighed in a kilo under and I was able to eat, drink, and stay hydrated the whole time. I felt really good and I don’t think I’m giving up much size. I also feel like my strength is pretty good still, even more so than the last couple of tournaments. I’m definitely getting stronger.
5PM: Carlson is a wrestler you know well and have competed against once before. Since he’s in the room with you on top of all this, what’s the trick to competing against an opponent where there is so much familiarity, which is certainly how it works in this sport in the US?
Stanghill: I had a lot of trouble earlier in my career losing to guys I beat in the practice room and I think a lot of it was more of a state of mind than anything. Just going out there and treating him like he was just an opponent and remembering what happened in the room, but also, remembering that it’s a match and you’re going to see a different side out of people when it comes to competition. No matter how much you train with someone, they are always going to bring a different level when competing in front of people, in front of a crowd. I guess just knowing what you can and cannot hit, and just being in the moment with it and hitting what you can when the opportunity presents itself.
5PM: The first match you asserted yourself pretty early, picked up a takedown and turn in the first period, another takedown later on. The second match you got your points early again, but that was it. Up 3-0 in the second, you know you’re three minutes away from competing for a World medal. What’s going through your mind as the finish line approaches?
Stanghill: I’ve been trying to get away from that mindset of just holding on and I almost did that. Not to where it’s like I’m holding on for dear life or anything like that, I don’t want to say it that way. But I wasn’t willing to take any unnecessary risks. I know I am up 3-0, I know they aren’t going to hit me with three passives, and I really don’t think if I stay solid while not taking too many risks that this guy is going to be able to take me down.
I’ve been trying to get away from it and that’s why in the first match I was able to score more points. That second match, it’s kind of like, I’ve got to win this one and if I do, I’m on the team. So that second period, it’s, Don’t do anything stupid, don’t take any unnecessary risks or give up points. You’re winning, you got this, there’s three minutes left, so finish strong. Hand-fight, because that’s been my strength anyways, and I figured I could just out hand-fight this guy for three minutes.
5PM: He was a great opponent to have not just because he’s skilled, but he fought you the way a lot of these guys overseas will fight you, too. He has a little bit of that style working for him it seems and that probably helped, right?
Stanghill: Oh yeah, definitely. 100%. And I think a lot of it was we left it all on the mat in that first match. I can’t speak for him, but it definitely felt like when the second match came around, we were both a little bit slower. My dad filmed the first match and I watched it, and it looked like it was in fast-forward, we were just pummeling and fighting hard the whole time. When that second match came around, that was pretty much what we did, too, we were fighting each other and butting heads for six minutes.
5PM: You have six weeks until the World Championships in Poland. What is the plan? Are you saving yourself for Poland, or are you going to get to Colorado Springs for Schultz before that?
Barrett Stanghill: It sounds like they want to go to Belarus before the World Championships and I would really like to hit the Schultz. So I think I am going to make the Schultz depending on when the training camp would be in Belarus and work it out. I’d definitely like to hit Schultz, it’s a benchmark on where I’m at and what I need to work on, so I’d really like to be there. That was kind of the plan all along, win this tournament, go to Schultz, make noise there, and then go over to the World Championships.