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March 17, 2018

Bo Nickal

Cleveland, Ohio


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the 2018 NCAA Division I national champion at 184 pounds, Bo Nickal, from Penn State.

Q. Can you describe the emotion and the feeling that goes through you whenever he slapped the mat? You win another title and you clinch the team title for Penn State?
BO NICKAL: No, I can't describe it. Sorry. I can't describe it.

Q. Two years ago, kind of a similar exchange; you ended up on the lesser end of that one. Tonight, you get to clinch the team title winning that kind of exchange. Is that something that stuck with you even though you won the championship last year, too? And was that something in your mind going into the match tonight? And does the fact that it was a big move to his back make it any sweeter?
BO NICKAL: I think about that match every day almost. It's something that sticks in my mind. I feel that, one of my goals was to be a four-time national champion coming to Penn State. So not being able to accomplish that, it hurts. I think about it every day. But I think it's just part of the plan that God has for me. It's going to make me a better person. And in the end, I'm really happy with where I'm at and really happy to be able to help my team out a little bit with the pen.

Q. In a sequence like that, do you have time to think, or is it just a matter of reaction?
BO NICKAL: I really didn't have to think. I've been doing that move for a really long time. I try it a lot in practice, just messing around and play wrestling with guys and stuff like that. So it's a position that I'm comfortable in. And I knew what I was doing. I didn't have to think too much about it.

Q. Talk to that position again, seemed like for a second you almost bailed from the high flyer, and then you kind of stopped, got back to it. What was that process? I know you don't really think out there; you just do it.
BO NICKAL: Looking back at it initially he knocked me down to my hip. So I just didn't really have a solid, like, balance. My feet weren't like flat on my feet. I wasn't able to keep my base underneath me.

But when I came back, I had my feet solid on the mat, that way I could drive off them. I wasn't really thinking like bail in that position. I was just thinking get my hips back underneath me.

Q. That was your first pin this tournament. It seems like a lot of times this tournament, maybe in the Big Tens, you cemented frustrated because you weren't getting those big moves. Could you talk about that?
BO NICKAL: I wouldn't say I'm frustrated not getting big moves. It's kind of frustrating when I'm wrestling with guys and they're down by six, eight points at the end of the match, and they're just trying to like hold off for not getting majored or not getting pinned or teched.

And I'm, like, you're losing by eight points, man, so it probably would be a better idea to wrestle. But I guess not. That's one thing I have to work on, because at that point I'm worrying too much about them and not myself.

Moving forward I'm going to keep focusing on myself and scoring points every second I get because you only get a certain amount of time out there on the mat and so I just want to make the most of it.

Q. You're pretty composed all the time. But right there up to the match and that interview you kind of were pretty demonstrative for lack of a better term. Can you kind of describe the emotions? Do you remember what you were saying right there or did the excitement get the best of you?
BO NICKAL: I was definitely super excited. It's a crazy moment. So the interview is straight after. You don't have time to cool down or anything. Still everything I said is true: You go to Penn State to win titles as an individual and as a team. That's what we do. And that's what we trained for. And we have the best coaches in the country, best facilities, best fans. And best wrestling, easily.

Q. All week you guys have been the quiet, stoic, business-like team. How does it feel to kind of let your hair down, so to speak, now that you guys have kind of accomplished a mission?
BO NICKAL: I think, you know, we're business-like to a point, maybe more so in front of the cameras and stuff like that. But we have a lot of personalities on the team, a lot of guys. We're all having fun, joking around, enjoying the moment, really.

I think the people on the outside see just a little bit of it. So they see the business and getting out there on the mat and doing our job type of thing, but they don't really see the ins and outs. So as far as like us being business-like, that's how we treat our matches. And we're going to go out there and be efficient and score points and make the most of the opportunities.

But at the same time we're having fun. I enjoy just hanging out with my team in tournaments and just kicking back, relaxing. That's almost better than the actual wrestling, just being able to to be in a relationship with my teammates.

And I just really feel like it's a huge blessing from God to be around the guys I am, and I'm lucky to be on the team I am.

Q. People say in sports, it's cliche, that it's really hard to beat the same guy three times in one season. You did it. And you did it in three different kind of matches. Talk about the different kinds of versatility that you showed and how you've evolved in that way in terms of becoming more of an all-around wrestler.
BO NICKAL: I think that just goes to making the most of every second that I have. I'm going to wrestle through every position. I'm going to keep going, keep looking to score points, keep looking to put people on their backs no matter what the situation, whether I'm up one or down by one, whatever the score is.

I think that just comes with the mindset of just making the most of your opportunity and using all the time that you have, because it's really not a great situation if you go out there and you leave like a minute, two minutes, three minutes out there where you didn't wrestle your best. I just try to wrestle my best through the whole match and every match that I have.

Q. During the parade of All-Americans, I noticed you and maybe Zain, a couple of other guys just waving to each other, a little lighthearted. Can you describe the mood? There's a lot of pressure going into this round, yet it seemed you guys having -- I'm not going to say that word but describe the mood for me.
BO NICKAL: I think just it's kind of how we are. No matter what the situation is. I think I would do the same thing in that situation or whether we're on the mat and the other guys are walking out, or if I'm walking down the street on campus. So just kind of be yourself.

Everybody I think tries to act like a tough guy when they get out there and stuff like that. But it doesn't really make any sense to me. I just want to be myself no matter what. So that's just kind of what we started doing. I think I was excited to see my teammates, that's about it.

Q. Last year you got a big pin, (indiscernible) for the year. This year (indiscernible) celebrated here. Same sort of celebration. What's it about these moments that you feel comfortable in big environments?
BO NICKAL: I think just being -- that's what I want. I want to be out there with the team, the title on the line and just be able to have the opportunity to go win it for our team. And that was what was the main focus in my mind at that point and the same with, in Carver, the same with the dual in the rec.

I want to go out there and if the match is on the line I want to be the person that's out there, that we send out. So I think I'm just confident in that and I'm confident in my abilities. And that's because of all the people I have around, my coaches, my teammates. They put so much time and effort into me that I know that maybe by myself I wouldn't be able to go out there and get the job done. But I have all these people behind me all this support.

And so through everyone I think that gives me that strength on top of that and I just have a foundation of having Jesus Christ in my life, and that gives me the confidence to go out there and just compete to the best of my ability because I know that the Lord loves me whether I win or loss. And he wants me to go out there and do my best, give 100 percent. That's sort of my attitude in those situations.

Q. Bo, the other day you said this is the first time you're wrestling him for the ninth time, how would you rate this time the ninth time versus the other eight times you got to wrestle?
BO NICKAL: It's been really weird, because every single time we've wrestled has been different. And that just shows how cool wrestling is because you can wrestle someone nine times. You can wrestle them 90 times or 900 times. And it's probably going to be different. No two matches are alike.

That's why wrestling is such a cool sport because I get to go train every day and every day is different. And it's not like other sports where football, I gotta run, I gotta catch a pass or gotta run a slant route, or basketball I've got to shoot a thousand free throws.

There's repetition in drilling and stuff like that, but even if you repeat a high crotch a thousand times it's going to be a little different. And you're going to have to do little different things to beat guys in certain situations every match.

I think that's just like doesn't have to do so much with me and him. It has more to do with the sport itself because it's an awesome sport. And I wish more people would try it. And I think everybody at some point should try wrestling whether or not they're going to stick with it. It's just one of those things that's cool with the sport.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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