By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Getting to wrestle at Gallagher-Iba Arena for the U.S. World Team Trials Sunday is special for Oklahoma State sophomore Austin Schafer, and it’s not just because he will compete on his home floor. He should have several members of his family and friends from Edmond supporting him.
“It’s going to be nice for them to come and see me wrestle,” Schafer said. “For them it’s going to be a good thing. They’ve really missed out on that. They really love seeing me compete. They love being able to do that.”
Schafer started his college wrestling career at West Point Preparatory in West Point, N.Y. which was a very long distance for his family and friends to travel.
“I saw my family once and they got to see me wrestle once the whole year,” Schafer said.
In his only season at West Point, Schafer went 17-7. This past season, Schafer started as a redshirt freshman for OSU, but had his redshirt lifted in a Dec. 8 dual against Wyoming — filling in for an injured Blake Rosholt. Schafer went 16-8 last season and worked out with Rosholt, adding he learned a lot.
“Wrestling with (Rosholt) throughout the year I just worked on my stance and hand fighting,” Schafer said. “He would kill me on that every day in practice and that’s where I feel like I’ve improved wrestling him every day in practice.”
Schafer said he likes wrestling freestyle better than the collegiate style that some of his teammates use.
“It’s much quicker action and quick scoring,” Schafer said. “I like transitioning into different positions and you can get your match done a lot quicker. Not a lot of conditioning in it.”
Schafer said he hopes the world trials will give wrestling more exposure as the sport is fighting to get back into the Olympics after being removed last February.
“You’ve seen a ton of exposure from all the celebrities and these different coaches having their voices heard on the national stage,” Schafer said. “It says this is a big sport and a big presence in the U.S. wrestling.”
During the summer, Schafer has gotten to work with some of the best of OSU wrestling — 2012 bronze medalist Coleman Scott and two-time NCAA champion Jordan Oliver and two-time NCAA champion Chris Pendleton.
“They are great. They are always helping you and pushing you,” Schafer said. “It’s always good to know that you have in your room — guys who are multiple national champions and Olympic medalists. You know they have been through the same steps you have. You know you are going to go somewhere good.”
After the season, Schafer competed in the junior freestyle at the U.S. Open last April and took third in the 96-kilogram division. Schafer said the competition was tough and has a lot of work to do if he is going to earn a spot on the U.S. world team.
“I’m excited about it,” Schafer said. “I just want to go out there and compete. Those are the best matches, when you are the underdog, those are the most fun.”