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March 17, 2017

Jason Nolf

Joey Lavallee

St. Louis, Missouri

JASON NOLF: I'd just like to thank all the fans and everything out there, my family, and my girlfriend for supporting me through all this, and I'm not done yet. My goal isn't to make it to the National Finals, it's to win. So that's what I'm here for, and just looking forward to that tomorrow.

Q. What makes you guys different from everybody else?
JASON NOLF: I don't know. I can't really speak for the other teams, but I know that our team is just super grateful for every opportunity that we're given. And we've come together, we're a family, and we all want to see each other succeed. So I think that when we're just continuously scoring points that we do a lot better, and I think that's what separates us.

Q. You said your goal was not to be a finalist but to be a champion. Last year you did not win it, but your team did. What was the feeling going on with you as your team was celebrating?
JASON NOLF: I was really happy for my team, but I was still really upset because that was my goal. But I learned a lot from it, and I'm looking forward to competing tomorrow.

Q. Jason, so the bonus bonanza continues. I have a question. When you finished your match you laid the ankle bands down real nice and tight. Can you tell me about that? Is that a tradition?
JASON NOLF: I just -- I don't know when I started doing that, but now that I do it, I think it's nice for -- I don't know, I just like doing it.

Q. Do they have a nickname for you?
JASON NOLF: I've heard the Matrix, but Nolf Pack.

Q. How about Nasty Nolf?
JASON NOLF: I don't know about that one.

Q. Before the tournament, you and Zain had a little dance-off. How do you flip that switch from going to having a dance-off for the tournament to going to the finals?
JASON NOLF: I don't know if it's a switch as much as just having fun while we're here. Everybody doesn't have to take themselves so seriously, as Coach Cael would say it. But I don't know, I just have a lot of fun wrestling and being here with my team, and I think that when you're thinking about how grateful you are, then you don't really worry about -- I don't really know, but it's just you think about it in a different perspective.

Q. Now you're in the finals here; talk a little bit about what you would see as being the perfect kind of match for you to show what you want to show when you're wrestling for tomorrow night.
JASON NOLF: To get a pin, because, I mean --

Q. How, does it matter?
JASON NOLF: No, it doesn't really matter. Just some guys you've got to open them up a little bit more before you get the pin. I had that cradle locked up in that match, and it just slipped a little bit. But yeah, I'm just looking to -- if I can take the guy down and pin him right away, that's what I do. That's what I try to do. But some guys just kind of ball up a little bit, and some guys have more energy. But I would look to take that out of them as I'm wrestling and just continually just score points and then that'll open up the pin.

JOEY LAVALLEE: I just want to thank my coaches for supporting me through this year and pushing me and helping me become a better wrestler this year and slowly make small adjustments to improve.

Q. When you leaped into the stands and gave someone a hug, who was that that you gave a hug to?
JOEY LAVALLEE: That was my dad, and he's been a big role model, big influence. He's the first one that got me into wrestling, and pretty much I was born to be a wrestler. And my dad would take me -- when I was like a little baby, he'd take me into the high school room and just been born and raised in the wrestling room.

Q. And also, this is the first time Missouri has ever had multiple finalists in the same year. What does it mean to have some company from your team in the finals tomorrow night?
JOEY LAVALLEE: It's just awesome having several guys in the finals because day one after the national tournament last year, we came in together as a team. Once the team got back, and we set individual goals, team goals, what our expectations were, and we just kept pushing each other, kept driving us towards that goal, no matter if we were having ups and downs. We just kept pushing each other to improve and become better.

Q. A lot of people talked about the skill in Penn State's room and their training partners, but you have a training partner yourself that just made the finals. Talk about that.
JOEY LAVALLEE: I mean, in our wrestling room, I have a lot of training partners, which is great. They give me different looks. I mean, throughout the week, I'll probably have five to eight guys I'm training with that are pushing me, that are giving me different looks, and always competing with me, always calling me out, trying to push me to become a better wrestler.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about that exchange at the end where you won the match? Again, we know your opponent likes to do goofy stuff, but you were able to change it into a winning takedown.
JOEY LAVALLEE: Just honestly, it was just belief in my coaches and stuff. And like when they were challenging that call in the beginning for a near fall, my coach would say, you're good, keep composed, you're good, just keep u to the game plan. Keep solid wrestling, solid base wrestling. Coach Joe was telling me, okay, you need to cut the corner a little bit so he can't get to your ankle, and just going back to basics so that he can't get to that. And it finally benefitted me towards the end of the match.

Q. Another win, it seems like you got very late in the match. How do you feel like you rise to the occasion whenever you are maybe down with those last 20 seconds to come back and get another win?
JOEY LAVALLEE: Honestly, I was not worrying about time. My coach was yelling, hey, you've got short time, you've got short time. And I'm just looking for that one takedown that I need. I need one score. I don`t want these 45 seconds, I take a bad shot because I'm trying to force something and he gets a takedown. Now I'm down by more points and if I can't escape I've got to go big and take a big risk where I was just getting to my positions, fighting, battling, working in. Like we do a lot of hand fighting, so I was just working, I've got to get to my position, I've got to get to my position. Once I got there, I had to go. It had to be quick. Once I got there, I knew I had short time, go and try to get that takedown as quick as possible, but also being technical and not letting him be able to come over the top and grab my ankles.

Q. Seeing Lavion get that win, how much did you feed off of that success?
JOEY LAVALLEE: I actually didn't see that win, but for me I kind of zone out. I have to go in the back and not watch my teammates wrestling because that affects me a lot. For me, I can't get too pumped up in a match and stuff, like get pumped up for him and get amped up too soon because then I kind of drain myself before I get on the mat. A lot of times I'll be in the back listening to my country music, actually Christian gospel music was my biggest playlist for this tournament just because it calms me and mellows me.

Q. The reason for the redshirt last year, was it a team decision or a Joey Lavallee decision?
JOEY LAVALLEE: I was going through -- last three years, I would say were a rough time for me because I think my attitude in the room was wrong. Like I felt like I had everything and I knew everything. I was competing with Dieringer, having close matches with Dieringer, having an overtime match with Ian Miller, tough guys my weight, and I sat down with Coach and we went over my options and stuff, and we made a team decision to redshirt me.

It was tough sitting on the sideline for my team. I want to be out there. I want to compete for them. But for me, it was -- I had to learn to trust my coaches and not be a big head and say, oh, I know everything, and now when I come into the room, I'm like, okay, what do I need to learn today, what do I need to do better, Coach, and gain every coach's perspective. Because Coach Clemsen, Coach Joe, Coach Smith are great guys and they have different views, different ways of getting to things, which gives me more options to pick from to make me a better wrestler. And that's why like I never did it my freshman and sophomore year, but after dual meets, after my matches, win or loss, I always went to my coach, what can I do better, Coach, what am I doing wrong. And trying to be more a student of the sport, and with being a student of the sport, I learned to love wrestling again. And I think that was the big transfer from my freshman and sophomore year and my redshirt year was learning how to be a student again, start learning things and become a better wrestler and loving the sport.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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