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March 17, 2012

Kellen Russell


141-lb. Champion

THE MODERATOR:  Questions?

Q.  Kellen, just compare this one to the last time you won this thing, in your mind, and then the experience for you.
KELLEN RUSSELL:  I think I wrestled a lot better this whole tournament.  Keeping the matches not as close in the Finals were really close.  You had a pretty good game plan, need to keep that one leg back.  That's what I was taking him down with at Big Tens.
And overall I think I controlled it pretty well.  I gave up one takedown.  Fell asleep a little bit.  But the whole tourney I felt more comfortable and confident in my shots and everything.  And it's good to be here a couple times before.

Q.  Kellen, you made a point last night you didn't want to wait until the end going into overtime.  It ended up going into that.  Did you have a feeling you wanted to avoid the tie‑breaker this time?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  I didn't want to go into overtime, give up that takedown, and he went into defense after that.  It's always harder when a guy defends you pretty hard.  He usually comes pretty hard at me.  We changed the game plan a little bit.
But in overtime didn't want to go into the tie‑breaker again.  Knew I needed to take him down, get it done, and get my offense going.

Q.  Would you talk about the attempt to ride them for that minute where you were just a second short, and did it just disappoint you when you looked over and saw the 59?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  No, it didn't disappoint me.  I didn't do what I had to do on top.  I didn't want to win on riding time; I wanted get that takedown, I wanted to score those points.
So, yeah, it was kind of a bummer I had to go into overtime, but it feels a lot better to win on getting that takedown rather than the riding time.

Q.  Could you talk a little bit about Montell Marion?  Obviously he took you to overtime in the biggest match of the year.  This second time he just missed out here.  Just kind of the competitor he was and what kind of challenge he made it for you to become a champion for a second time?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  Yeah, you know, when a lot of guys kinda‑‑ you know, a little more defensive with me, me and him always kinda went atit, buttedheads.
He's a great competitor, really good wrestler.  And all of our matches are always tough.  There were some takedowns‑‑ it's not usually an easy takedown to score on, so his matches are always fun.  Wrestling, going to be some scrambles and getting in and out of shots, but he's just a great competitor.

Q.  There was like 10 or 12 freshmen All‑Americans.  One thing I want to ask you, as this day progressed‑‑ and I assume this is wrapping up your wrestling career.  Is that correct?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  No, I'll be wrestling.

Q.  Freestyle?

Q.  Looking back on your college career, did you think back your first year doing this‑‑ I remember you were like a first two‑year freshman and you were sort of a sensation, what were your feelings looking back to that year?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  You mean if I was happy that I wrestled as a freshman?

Q.  And those feelings.  How young did you feel back then?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  You know, I came out right away my freshman year and had some success.  I never really felt like I was younger than those guys or I didn't deserve to be out there.  I always felt like I deserved to be out there.
I think my freshman year was a big learning experience for me.  And it's great to see the freshman All‑American.  And I didn't get All‑American, I'm not upset about it because it's just one thing that didn't go great in my college career, and overall I had to be happy with it.

Q.  The two cautions, how much did that occupy your mind during the match?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  First one I kind of blew off right away, and the second one I thought about it for a split second.  I wasn't sure if I jumped or not.  We were both kind of jumping on the whistle both on top and bottom.  Sometimes that happens.
The more you dwell on it, the more it's going to take away from your competitiveness or your focus on that moment.  So I do a pretty good job of just letting it go.

Q.  Could you comment on the impact of Donny Pritzlaff and Sean Bormet on you?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  Yeah, they just bring the level of competition up in the room.  They expect so much in the room, whether you're a true freshman that didn't even place at states or if you're returning national champ.  They have the same expectation for everybody, and that raises the competitive level in the room.
And it definitely helped me get to the point where I am right now, where I'm scoring more, going into overtime less often, not never, but less often for sure.
So without them I don't think I would have that same attack on my feet and wanting to score the whole time.

Q.  What's next for you?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  Start training with the Eclipse Wrestling Club with Jimmy Kennedy and Josh and Poeta and Herbert and those guys see where that takes me.

Q.  Have you thought about your legacy at Michigan, two‑time champion, four‑time conference champ?  Obviously Michigan has had some great athletes.  But you've made your mark, and I'm curious if you've thought about ending it this way so that people look back at your career and put you up there with the greats?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  I never really thought about it.  I don't think about it too much.  I see guys like Mark Churella, Sr., is in the room all the time or comes in once in a while.  To me he's like a hero.  Three‑time national champ and he's a great guy.
For me, I don't really look at myself that way.  I'm really thankful for the people who got me to Michigan and the guys who came before me, because without them I definitely wouldn't be where I am today.
But hopefully I can just kind of have that impact on some guys that are coming in and try to mentor them like they mentored me and make sure they're making the right decisions, even more importantly off the mat as well as on the mat.

Q.  Kellen, when you watched‑‑ I don't know whether you were out there when Jordan lost, but there was one defending champion who went down in a bit of an upset.  Did it go through your mind?  Did that affect you at all when you went out there having seen a defending champ just lose in that situation?
KELLEN RUSSELL:  No, not really.  I know Jordan pretty well.  We grew up in the same area, wrestled the same club sometimes and saw each other a lot.
Now I'm kind of‑‑ it's a bummer they lost.  But I didn't really even watch the match before my match.  Just tried to stay focused on mine.  Obviously I knew Stieber won, but I didn't let it affect me too much.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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