The cliché would be to offer this advice to competitors at the 174-pound class in Big Ten wrestling: “Pack a lunch.’’
The problem is that this is wrestling, so it’s more a case of putting a few carrot and celery sticks in a small plastic bag, rather than packing a bologna sandwich, mini-pretzels and an apple into a paper sack.
Logan Storley is the Gophers’ senior 174-pounder. He has finished sixth, fourth and third at the NCAA championships to become a three-time All-America. He is strong and quick and a technician of considerable note.
Storley is 20-2 and rated No. 3 nationally at 174 pounds. That means he also is rated No. 3 in the Big Ten.
Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh is 22-0 and rated No. 1. Iowa’s Mike Evans is 17-0 and rated No. 2. Penn State’s Matt Brown is 16-2 and rated No. 4.
That’s a combined 75-4 as these four seniors, all monstrous talents on the mat, head into the final stretch of their collegiate careers.
Yeah. Pack a lunch.
“Kokesh and I are both from South Dakota,’’ Storley said. “We wrestled a lot together in AAU. He’s one of my good friends. Matt Brown seems like a good guy, too. We’ve had some great matches.’’
How about Evans? Storley smiled slightly and said: “That’s a different story. There’s something about Iowa and those dual meets.’’
The Gophers, 9-0 and rated No. 1 in InterMat’s dual meet rankings, are at Penn State on Sunday afternoon. And then on Jan. 30, a Friday night, Iowa will be here for a dual that will be contested in Williams Arena.
Brown, followed by Evans. Life is a challenge for a 174-pounder in the Big Ten.
“Logan could have cut down to 165 [pounds],’’ John Schiley said. “To do that, Logan might have felt he was taking an easier path, and he’s not that person. If you’re going to win, you should do it against the toughest guys. That’s the way he looks at things.’’
Schiley was Storley’s coach until his senior season at Webster High School in South Dakota. He also was Brock Lesnar’s coach at Webster in the mid-1990s.
Webster is a town of 1,900. That’s a booming burg compared with Storley’s home address of Roslyn, S.D. At last count, there were 179 people in Roslyn.
“We have a post office, a bar and a service station in Roslyn,’’ Storley said. “That’s about it.’’
What Roslyn didn’t have — even after its merger with Langford — was a wrestling program. Storley made the 20-minute commute from his family farm to attend school in Webster, a longtime power in South Dakota’s Class B wrestling.
“He was a mild-mannered kid, except on the mat,’’ Schiley said. “He always has been mature as a person, and was a sponge when it came to wrestling. You would teach him a move, and wait to see where he would put it in his menu for a match. A lot of times, you’d think, ‘I never expected to see it there,’ but it would work.’’
That maturity showed immediately with the Gophers. Storley made an agreement with coach J Robinson during his recruitment that he would be given a shot to make the lineup as a true freshman for the 2011-12 season. Four years later, he’s the only non-redshirt in the Gophers lineup.
Storley had won his first Class B state title for Webster as a seventh-grader at 103 pounds. He went on to win six state titles, doing so in five weight classes.
He was named the nation’s No. 1 high school wrestler as a senior. He had a career record of 268-3. He lost one match as a seventh-grader and another as an eighth-grader.
“I got beat as a senior, in the Lee Wolf meet in Aberdeen,’’ Storley said. “I was wrestling Preston Lehman from West Fargo. I was ahead 15-2 in the second period, going for a technical fall. I got caught and he pinned me.’’
That ended a 201-match winning streak for Storley.
“It was a good lesson,’’ Storley said this week, and Schiley agreed.
“I told him, ‘You got a little careless against a good wrestler and he got you in that ‘twister.’
‘‘What’s that say about a careless moment against great wrestlers in college?’ ” Schiley said.
You can’t afford an instant of carelessness in the Big Ten or the NCAA meet — not against Kokesh, not against Brown, and certainly not against that guy (grrrr!) from Iowa.
“The goal is absolutely to win a national title,’’ Storley said. “If I leave here without having done that, it will be a disappointment.’’
Wrestlers, man. They never give themselves a free lunch.