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March 18, 2011

Borislav Novachkov

Kellen Russell


141-lb. Championship

MODERATOR: Joined by the No. 3 seed of the 141 pounds, Borislav Novachkov, Cal Poly. Improves to 31-1 with his victory, advancing out of the finals. So congratulations, Boris. We'll go ahead and take questions for him at this time.

Q. You've been putting points on the board on top. What is it that you're being able to do to throw in the arm bars and tilts and stuff, you're putting up so many points on the board?
BORISLAV NOVACHKOV: I just focus on riding him. And when I try to pin him, it helps me stay on top. And most of the time it turns out for the best. I get some back points out of it.

Q. What do you expect out of the match tomorrow night?
BORISLAV NOVACHKOV: I'm going to give it my best and hopefully come out on top.

Q. Boris, your only loss this year was to Russell in Las Vegas. What can you recall about that match and why are you ready to do better this year in a sense?
BORISLAV NOVACHKOV: The match that he beat me, I felt that I wasn't as offensive as I should have been. And tomorrow, I'm just going to go out there and attack the whole match and try to put some points on the board.
MODERATOR: Anybody else?

Q. Boris, the fact that I think you were only one of two at this point from California, and there's been such a slant on East Coast wrestling for this tournament. Do you feel like you're a lone guy from out west?
BORISLAV NOVACHKOV: Well, I'm originally from Bulgaria, so I'm not even from that side of the country. That's why maybe I wrestled a little bit differently, having that mentality.

Q. (Off microphone)?
BORISLAV NOVACHKOV: I just feel like I'm [inaudible].

Q. You come from the east to wrestle on the west and now you're doing so well. You've really switched it up. Talk a little bit about what you've been doing to train for this. It seems like you've had some incredible success.
BORISLAV NOVACHKOV: I just try to get everything out of practice all the time and just be competitive in the wrestling room and that transfers over to the mat.

Q. You're the third guy in three years from Cal Poly to make the finals. Chad Mendes and Chase Pami are both runners-up. Is there anything -- have you learned anything from them, taken anything from their experiences that you're going to apply to the finals this time around?
BORISLAV NOVACHKOV: Yeah, Chase Pami, runner-up last year. I like the way he went out and just attacked the whole match but had a little mistake in the first round, so that cost him the match. But I feel like as long as I attack and stay in good position and try to do the least amount of mistakes, I can win it.

Q. You've been to this tournament before and you've certainly competed at a high level, but what was the difference in your wrestling this year? Obviously to be able to reach the finals in the NCAA's, you've improved in certain areas. And I was curious what you thought was really helping you so that you would come out as the winner in these tight matches?
BORISLAV NOVACHKOV: I feel like I've just grown up and matured a little bit more and learned that I just needed to let loose and attack more, and which I haven't been doing in the tournament previous matches, but I have just matured a lot more and don't feel as much pressure that I have to win anymore. Just have fun.
MODERATOR: Anything else for Boris?

Q. European champion? How much pressure? Is there a lot of pressure on you? Are you enjoying this? I know you have some great coaches. They seem to be having a good time with you as well. But talk a little bit about the difference the European versus American college.
BORISLAV NOVACHKOV: Well, it was a long time ago, I was very young, but definitely this is a lot harder than European nationals or even Bulgarian nationals. I feel like this is one of the toughest tournaments in the world and I'm glad I can compete in it.
MODERATOR: Any other questions for Boris? Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow.
Joined by the No. 1 seed at 141 pounds, Kellen Russell, improving to 27-0with his win and on to the championship tomorrow. With that being said, we'll take questions for Kellen at this time.

Q. Two matches in a row you went to the tie-breaker. Almost seems like you're comfortable in that situation even more than the sudden victory period. Would you rather just take it to the tie-breaker knowing that you'll have the riding advantage?
KELLEN RUSSELL: I like when we got one on the top and bottom. I felt comfortable stretching up on him and being able to ride him longer, he was being able to ride me. And in the sudden victory, it's just kind of tough when you have such good competition that we both got each other out and we both wrestled each other before so we knew exactly what each other was looking for. So I knew it was going to be tough to get a takedown on him, and me and him got some good scrambles but he was able to come up. I always feel comfortable in overtime and being able to score.

Q. All year you've taken one match at a time but made it pretty clear that your goal is to win a national championship. So now the one day is tomorrow, and how does that feel?
KELLEN RUSSELL: I just feel excited right now to be able to make it to the biggest stage in my sport, the national finals. It's something I've watched people do since I was a little kid. So I'm just really excited to be able to get out there and wrestle on the stage in front of everybody.

Q. Two matches like that in one day have to tie the record for longest possible time on the mat. Did you do anything differently after this afternoon to be able to bounce back and be fresh tonight?
KELLEN RUSSELL: I've been wrestling tough competition all year. I think that's what's great about the Big 10. We had five of the top six guys were in my conference, so I was wrestling the best competition, so I was able to all year work on recovery. So ten minutes after my match this afternoon, I felt fully recovered. It's my preparation coming into this. I knew going in that I was going to have two or three tough matches coming in. So it was just something I've been preparing for all year.

Q. Obviously two years ago, i believe you were a top seed. You finished 7th. Obviously much younger and less experienced. What's the big difference would you say now to then now that you're the top seed?
KELLEN RUSSELL: I just think my confidence. That year I had a really good Big 10 Tournament and I had a pretty good year going into it. But when it came into the national tournament, I just felt that, looking back on it now, that I wasn't that confident as I was now.
I felt really comfortable here all weekend. I didn't feel nervous, just felt excited the whole time. So that was a huge difference between me two years and me now, just kind of growing up and feeling more confident in my wrestling.

Q. In that first sudden victory period, he nearly had you taken down, within inches. Can you talk about your feelings there?
KELLEN RUSSELL: I was just trying to scramble out as much as I could. He got in pretty deep and I got in a awkward position. He probably could have taken me down there. I was able to keep fighting. I credit that to my workout partners. Eric Grajales is a great scrambler. It's tough when me and him go at it in the room. We have scrambles like that every day.
I'm pretty used to scrambling like that and I was able to -- I knew if I just kept moving, he wasn't going to be able to take me down there. So I was rolling around as much as I could and trying to get out on top.

Q. In the time off you missed some time and then came back this year. What kind of things do you think you improved on or gained being away from the mat for a while. You've been wrestling year round all the way back through high school and everything else. Was there some growth there in the time when you weren't out there competing?
KELLEN RUSSELL: Yeah, definitely. I think from watching everybody wrestle and me not being able to wrestle, it really got that spark going again. Not that I didn't love to wrestle my freshman/sophomore year in college, but I can definitely see a big difference from me this year and me at the end of my sophomore year where my body was kinda beat up, I was kinda having all these close matches.
After having a year off, I really -- I'm really excited to get out on the mat and practice every day. I just learned a ton about myself as a wrestler, watching people wrestle, and watching myself wrestle over the last year.

Q. You've beaten your opponent tomorrow once. What do you expect from him tomorrow in the final?
KELLEN RUSSELL: I think just like my semis, it's going to be a close match. We both know each other. We've been wrestling together since we were seniors in high school. So we both have drilled with each other and wrestled each other. We wrestled earlier this year. So I think it's going to be another close match like this, and hopefully there will be a bunch of scrambles.

Q. If I would have told you coming in [inaudible] 21 seconds in riding time, what would your thought be there?
KELLEN RUSSELL: Kind of expect it, I guess. I don't mind winning in overtime. If I feel comfortable there and I know I'm going to win it, then I'd much rather win it in seven minutes or less. But my condition is fine and I feel like I can sort of wear guys out throughout the match. And I came in expecting a couple of overtime matches, some really tight matches, so doesn't surprise me that much.
MODERATOR: Anything else? Congratulations.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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