home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 18, 2017

Darian Cruz

St. Louis, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: Joining us now is 125-pound champion Darian Cruz.

DARIAN CRUZ: I mean, like I say, I'm so happy and so blessed to be here. I worked my tail off day in, day out, and it feels so good to have it pay off. And another thing I'm really happy about is I made the Lehigh community, my parents, my family, my friends, my coaches so proud, and I think that's the biggest thing to having success, having the drive. All those people are my drive. So thank you.

Q. You're in the top half of the bracket with Gilman and Gilman really dominated everybody all year. He had the hiccup with Lizak but comes back and crushes Lizak in the third period. You know you're a scrappy Lehigh Valley guy. Obviously Lizak is a scrappy Lehigh guy. You knocked Gilman out. Was there any doubt you could knock him off and knock off your fellow Lehigh?
DARIAN CRUZ: There's always doubt. To be honest, I think you're crazy if you're not saying you don't have any doubt. I think you can have doubt, but that's gotta turn into -- you've got to mold it into confidence.

You've got to use doubt to -- I definitely have doubt. The kid whooped my butt at Scuffle and he was beating me up at the mat. But so, of course, there's a lot of doubt. And I think you need to have that to have drive, and you've got to be a little bit scared and nervous to dig deep and push yourself. So, yeah, of course there's a little bit of doubt.

Q. Darian, could you explain a little bit more that roll-through finish that you did on the leg that got that key takedown because I don't know how to describe it?
DARIAN CRUZ: To be honest, I was wrestling with Randy, my brother, and he's real long and he made it up, I think. I've never seen anyone else do it. But he showed it to me probably last year. And he's really long, so he reaches across with his arm and rolls through.

I'm shorter so I played with it in the room and I reach across my leg and I reach my leg out first to see if he was going to grab and try to Jonesy me and he didn't. So, all right, let me try this move out. And I rolled and kept my leg blocking it. So when we came up, it wasn't too far from my arm to reach. I can reach down and touch my toes.

If his leg is further than that I can't reach it. I know he's long. So we ended up on top and that's all I can describe it as, just a roll-through, I guess. I don't know.

Q. You've wrestled on a lot of big stages, PA State finals, Dapper Dan. What was it like to wrestle in this type of environment in front of all these fans and the crowd?
DARIAN CRUZ: To be honest, it was -- I was ready for it. I was mentally and physically ready for it. And I was more nervous, to be honest, with my semis match. But this national championship brings a whole different type of nerves. There's so many people and they're all watching literally just you and some other kid fight for the title.

And so but I tried to just dumb it down, you know, I wrestled this kid plenty of times. And every time I go out, no matter what, I'm thinking about before I shake the kids hand, I say in my head, I think, if he takes me down, so what, I get out. I felt what he's got, now I get to my offense.

I think worst case scenario, takes me down, I'm cool with it. Takes me down, I get out. I go out and score points, do what I do best.

Q. Did the match follow the way that you wanted it to, strategy-wise? Seemed like you kept the match on your feet. He didn't ever get on top. He didn't take top. Did it go the way that you kind of drew it up in your mind?
DARIAN CRUZ: Yeah. You know we drew up some scenarios and that was one of them. You get choice and I thought he was going to pick top. And I guarantee in the third period if the score was what it was, then he probably goes top and tries to turn me.

But I drew up -- we drew up, the coaches and I, many scenarios. And you just gotta prep for all of them and be ready. But at the end of the line, Coach Pat just said, hey, wrestle. Just outwrestle this kid. And have fun. The last second you just threw the strategies out the window and dumbed it down and really stuck to the basics, and just said just wrestle like you know how to wrestle. You wrestled a lot of tough matched and it's just a tough one.

Q. A lot has been made you wrestled a local kid but those are not from Lehigh Valley. Explain what it's like where someone finds scores when you wrestle as a kid. And what is the connection with the university there?
DARIAN CRUZ: District 11, Lehigh Valley, I get kids from other states and other parts of the country come to Lehigh University and they always ask me, what's the 11? What's the Lehigh Valley?

And another kids that are on my team, like my brother and Luke Karam. It's just a family no matter what. You're competing in high school, but it's a culture. We stayed friends growing up. And that's I think why D-11 is so tough and successful, that we push each other and grow as a culture.

We don't stay away from each other because we're competitors. We work out -- I mean, me and Lizak worked out plenty of times in the Lehigh Wrestling Club, for Coach Weaver, Bobby and my dad.

And I remember going to the park and we were real little, and I was wrestling with Lizak, because it's a culture out there. I love sharing it with some young kids and bringing them to high school matches.

And I can't emphasize enough how the culture of it and the family bond that all of us share when we go out. Like we go on to better and bigger things, it's just like a family experience.

Q. You stayed home for college. Your school here has a wonderful tradition of champions. And now you're one of them. Talk a little bit about that. You knew when you went to Lehigh how much wrestling means there.
DARIAN CRUZ: That was the biggest thing I was kind of nervous about, because we kind of, like, have a hall of champion when we walk into the Caruso Complex, donated by Mike Caruso. There's the national champion on the left and All-Americans on the right.

You never know when you're going to be on the big stage ever again, you know what I mean? Whether it's health, whether it's, you know, tough losses, you never know. So honestly, I think that's what drove me a lot. I wanted to leave my imprint on that university history. And it's when I saw Zach Rey right before I came here to compete, and he's the last one on the wall.

So I think the tradition is just a huge background, a huge push for big moments like this, and our alumni are so deep and they support us so much that they make you want to go out and have success for them. So I think that's what makes the program so tough and so rich and so good and just because it's like Lehigh Valley, it's a family bond, culture thing.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297