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2008 NCAA D-1 National Wrestling Championships

Championship Finals 157 - 165 - 174

Images by Tony Rotundo and John Sachs
157--1st/2nd: #8 Jordan Leen (Cornell U.)
vs. #2 Michael Poeta (Illinois)
“I don’t know what this feels like.  I’m just kind of a mess right know to be
honest with you. I just feel so lucky. I know I didn’t deserve it any more than
any of the other guys in that bracket. It just happened to be my weekend.
I feel ecstatic that I was the guy that got to put together a good weekend.”
Jordan Leen, Cornell University
My motivation is every day watching the guys in the room bust their
butts.  I feed off of that. I’ve been coming to this tournament since I was
a little kid and it’s been a dream of mine and it’s just a dream come
true at this point. So maybe that’s motivation maybe it’s just having a
family that loves me no matter what happens. So I’m able to put it all
out on the mat. Every time I go because I’ve got nothing to loose.”
Jordan Leen, Cornell University
165--1st/2nd: #2 Mark Perry (Iowa) vs.
#1 Eric Tannenbaum (Michigan)
On the first takedown…

“That was all Tom Brands right there. That’s being ready off the whistle. I’m not
very fundamental. Brands just loves solid stuff.  That’s as solid as it gets for
me.  I had my legs back, got a good angle and forced him to grab my leg. I got an
easy go behind.  Maybe not the way Metcalf or Slaton or someone else would
have, but he didn’t get to my leg from the start.  I gave him my leg when I had a
good angle so I could get my legs in.  I felt like I did very well the first period.
Things were going really good. I wish that my knee didn’t pop because he was
about to be in some deep danger when we got in that scramble. He got my
knee. Maybe that’s a good lesson learned, I’ll never wrestle the kid again but
I've wrestled him five times and three of the five times he’s popped my knee.  
Maybe you just don’t give your knee at least not to him.”
Mark Perry, Iowa
On how the match went…

“I was really excited to get back out there and give it another shot.  I’ve
always been confident in my mind. I came into the match planning on
winning. I felt really good out there, the best I’ve ever felt in the national
finals. I was about to go 6-0 with riding time, and I don’t know if I'm
getting too old or what, but my knee popped and it hurt worse than the
first time it popped.  But, it was the inside instead of the outside. I don’t
know if that’s better or worse.  I have to credit my coaches. They have
been installing this kind of ‘suck it up’ attitude. Obviously you’re not going
to forfeit in the national finals but obviously I went on the defense after
that big time. I did as well as I could. I could hardly squat down in my
stance without caving in. I tried my best. This isn’t the way I wanted to
finish my wrestling career but I guess in a way I've learned a lot.  I found
a way to win; it wasn’t the way I wanted to, but the way things went for
me I had to suck it up and find a way to win.”
Mark Perry, Iowa
On being afraid of finishing the match…

“I would have finished the match no matter what, even if my knee were
totally blown out. I would never forfeit in the finals of nationals.  If I didn’t have
this coaching staff, with two Energizer bunnies in my corner; I think they got
my head pretty quick. They just said, ‘there’s 3:30 left.  Suck it up.  You’re up
4-0. Just stay solid and stay in a good stance.  Try to get your legs back.’
At first I was panicking pretty bad but that got me straight.”
Mark Perry, Iowa
On how much it means to win a team title…

“This is way more important. The team title is way more important to me than winning an individual tile this year.  I’m not
going to lie, this feels really good considering everything I've been through, having knee surgery a couple weeks back.
Honestly I went five straight weeks, I think 40 something days, without drilling or getting on the mat once.  I had three
weeks to get ready for Nationals and I think I did about as good of job as I could of with the circumstance I was put in.”
Mark Perry, Iowa
174--1st/2nd: #1 Keith Gavin (Pittsburgh) vs.
#2 Steve Luke (Michigan)
On how the match went:

“I felt great. Steve Luke is probably one of the best athletes I’ve
ever wrestled. He’s so explosive. So I knew I just needed to get
one takedown and stop his first move. I felt like I could ride him.
I executed my game plan, so that felt good.”
Keith Gavin, Pittsburgh