June 14, 2014
University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
One of college wrestling's most successful student-athletes moves about the mat with the appearance of a big, strong, intimidating individual preparing to subdue his next opponent. But don't be deceived by looks. Even though Michigan's Adam Coon is one of the toughest young opponents any collegiate wrestler in the world will face, his off-the-mat demeanor is far more like a young man who is on his way to earning an aerospace engineering degree from the University of Michigan.
Long before he receives his degree and even before he starts his sophomore season at U-M, Adam is going to focus on his most immediate athletic goal: preparing to compete in the FILA Junior World Championships Aug. 5-10 in Zagreb, Croatia.
Prior to the World Championships, Coon has one more goal: finishing his spring term physics class, thus completing another of the many prerequisite classes for an engineering degree at Michigan.
Adam is a focused individual, always readying himself to take on a bigger challenge. His recent tournament championships give insight into his passion and commitment to achieving both athletic and academic prominence.
After a remarkable freshman season that saw him ranked as the No. 1 heavyweight wrestler in the NCAA, he stumbled in the postseason. He didn't place in the Big Ten Tournament and finished one win shy of making All-America honors at the NCAA Championships. These were major setbacks for Adam.
No one, not even his coaches, could have anticipated what would happen in the next few months.
Adam worked his way back to win the University Nationals World Team Qualifier in Akron, Ohio, on Sunday, May 25, and then travelled to Madison, Wis., to pull off an amazing double championship, winning both the freestyle and Greco-Roman at the FILA Junior World Team Trials on Friday, May 30.
Even the coaching staff was surprised, and not only because Adam won titles in two different categories; they were surprised he even tried to compete in both categories. The staff thought Coon would have to concentrate on one style, but Coon's decision was to take on the more difficult challenge and go for both the Greco-Roman and freestyle titles.
The idea might have not seemed so far-fetched if it wasn't for the fact that Coon would have to move from one style of wrestling to another style and win four matches against two different wrestlers. And he would have to do that in a two-hour time span.
It didn't take Adam that long. He started in freestyle on mat two against Brooks Black. After he had won the first match of this particular best-of-three series, he had a five-minute break then went to mat three to take on Sam Stoll in Greco. After he had defeated Stoll, he headed back to take on Black and pinned him for the freestyle win.
The only break Adam caught was another match on mat three went long, so he had 30 minutes before he pinned Stoll for the title. He won four matches with two pins in 90 minutes to capture two titles.
Talk about focus. Not only did Adam have to find the extra physical strength to win the titles, he had to focus on the two sets of rules that separate these categories. Greco-Roman rules do not allow holds below the waist, while freestyle allows the use of the wrestler's or his opponent's legs on offense and defense. It did help that Coon competes in the upper weight class, allowing him to concentrate on the upper body battle, but he still had to keep his strategy and tactics straight. He had to remember in the heat of competition, he could use his bodylock and drags in both categories, but he knew he couldn't use it as strategic move to a lower body hold for points in Greco.
The athletic side of Adam's championship week is a good story on its own. Now add his spring academic schedule into the mix, and his concentration again had to be sharp. The night before his double championships, he had to take a physics quiz. Currently, his GPA is hovering around 3.5, and he is getting ready to take on advanced courses next year that, like wrestling, will present the same big time challenges.
He started wrestling at the age of four, and his career plans also started at an early age. Like many young children, Adam wanted to be an astronaut. By the time he reached high school, he had realized his height and weight would preclude him from going into space.
Knowing his physical size would keep him earthbound, he remained focused on his early goals and decided to major in aerospace engineering. To ensure he had the "right stuff" entering U-M, four of his six classes as a high school senior were advanced placement classes. Not only was he willing to take on the athletic challenge, he welcomed the academic challenge.
Now the challenges increase. The Big Ten, NCAA, world and possibly Olympic championships are some of Adam's athletics goals. And when it comes to academics, he is aiming even higher.
He knows a career in aerospace engineering might not get him into space, but it will provide him with a career that will be as challenging and rewarding as his experiences have been after one year on the U-M wrestling team.
Good luck to you, Adam, and Go Blue!