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March 21, 2014

Anthony Nelson


(Minnesota) (33-4)

THE MODERATOR:  Tony Nelson, University of Minnesota.

Q.  Tony, Telford is one of the guys you lost to I believe during the tough time; isn't that correct, and then you got a chance to see him in the Big Ten.  Did you need to face him there to be able to win this tonight at all?
TONY NELSON:  I think it was a big part of it.  Coming in as a 5 seed in the Big Tens and able to overcome that and get a great quarterfinal win.  And just built my confidence a lot knowing that I could achieve this one more time.

Q.  Tony, how is that past experience going to help you as you go into the Finals for another time?
TONY NELSON:  I've been in the big stage, and first few times you might, you're going to get nervous and everyone's looking at you, watching you, but for me this is my last year, and I really want to go out there and enjoy it and being on that stage is something not many guys get to experience.  And it's something I'm going to want to remember for the rest of my life.

Q.  [Off microphone]?
TONY NELSON:  We got two guys in the Finals.  Oklahoma State, they've got four.  So us winning probably both those finals is going to be crucial for us to have a chance to win the team title.
That's another thing I've never experienced before here.  I've been second and third.  And that's been one of my goals since I've been here.

Q.  You wrestle Gwiazdowski tomorrow.  You wrestled and focused on beating him.  He's beat you in freestyle a few times.  Talk about what you expect from him and the kind of things you've learned about him having competed against him in the past?
TONY NELSON:  You know, he's athletic, one of those athletic and agile heavyweights.  And he's going to look to score points, going to be ready for his leg attacks.  And if I'm able to counter those and get shots off of those it's going to be crucial to win that match.

Q.  We noticed you had a nice step‑up in your game in terms of your footwork.  Moving better than you ever have especially in the last three years and putting yourself in the position to make the Finals for the third year straight but you've never moved as well as you are right now, what do you attribute that to?
TONY NELSON:  After I went through those setbacks early in January, I actually kind of relooked at what I was doing and changed my training up a little bit and worked on getting my conditioning up so I was able to move my feet a lot more and be active the whole match, and rather than kind of hanging out, wrestling more the heavyweight, clubbing hard style, and just being more active, it opened things up and makes guys think they have to score.

Q.  We noticed that's a change‑‑ what have you done specifically, you said you stepped your game up, conditioning‑wise, what are you doing specifically to allow you to do that?
TONY NELSON:  You know, just I've done a few things with our coaches and added extra running in in the mornings and a few workouts were 20, 30‑minutes short, intense, high conditioning, high paced workouts to where I had to move my feet and work on just constantly moving and not taking a break, and that's why rather than going an hour and slowing down, we just did 20, 30 minutes on the clock, and when I was done I was done.

Q.  You wrestle for one of the most veteran coaches out there.  What were his words of wisdom when you were struggling?
TONY NELSON:  He was a huge help getting me back on my feet.  He told me‑‑ because after I suffered I think my fourth loss, I was frustrated and didn't know exactly if I was going to be able to do it again, just mentally climbing out of that and he told me you can't look at it like that.  You just really gotta focus on the work we were doing that we changed and the progress I was making doing those things.  And I was able to see that progress and move forward.

Q.  The Gophers have a legacy of good heavyweights, including guys that have won this tournament more than once.  But you have an opportunity to really, if you win tomorrow, to set a really nice standard for your career and to help add to that.  Is it something you take pride in that you've been part of a group of men that have really done a good job at your weight class and set the table for you?
TONY NELSON:  Yeah, the reason I came to Minnesota was because of that tradition at heavyweight.  And it's close to home and I knew if I wanted to be a great wrestler, especially at the heavyweight weight class, that's where I had to go.  Just to be able to have the opportunity to make history, something you can't say you've done much in your life.  And I feel honored and grateful to be in this position.

Q.  As you look back now, have you benefited from that slump in January?
TONY NELSON:  Yeah, I mean before that slump I was kind of just‑‑ what's the word I'm looking for, satisfied with where I was at.  And I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was.  So getting those losses made me change my work ethic and kind of create a new path for myself and that's really looking back, helping me get to being in the national Finals one more time.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Tony.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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