Jan. 23, 2014
Sophomore/freshman Conor Youtsey split his dual matches last weekend, narrowly falling to Illinois' defending NCAA champion Jesse Delgado -- on a first-period penalty point -- before cruising past Minnesota's Sam Brancale to kick off the Wolverines' upset win over the No. 2 Golden Gophers. Youtsey is 12-7 in his rookie campaign and a stout 7-2 in dual competitions this season.
With the Wolverines preparing for their Friday-night rivalry dual against Michigan State, Youtsey sat down before a midweek practice to talk about his weekend, the role of starting a dual meet and his excitement to face the Spartans.
Q: You lost a close, somewhat-controversial match against defending NCAA champion Jesse Delgado last Friday. Do you feel like you closed the gap quite a bit? You're getting closer?
A: After watching these other [125-pound] guys compete and seeing these matches be really close, that really does build confidence and lets me know that I can beat anyone in the country. With Delgado, closing the gap like that feels good. The coaches have really been working with me, watching video and showing me how to close that gap, and I really think we're doing a good job of it. It was a frustrating match, because he couldn't get to my legs the whole time and I thought that he could have earned it a little better. But I definitely learned a big lesson after that. I lost the team point, and there is no excuse for acting the way I did. That's not how I carry myself. That crushed me more than the loss.
Q: You got a good win to kick off the Minnesota dual. Did you feel some responsibility to start the dual meet on the right note?
A: Going into that dual, the coaches were saying how important it was to come out strong and really get the crowd and team into it. It's a huge deal to start gaining momentum quickly in a dual. I was really excited for it. After that wild dual ended, I told my dad that I'm going to have to watch the film because I couldn't remember anything about my actual match. I just went in with the mindset that regardless of what happen, I had to be aggressive, fight through every position and get the team going.
Q: You're in the unique position that more often than not you do start the dual. Obviously that's an important role. Do you like being in that spot?
A: I really do. I love going out there first, because I am a big competitor. I love to compete more than anything. I think regardless win or lose, I go out there and give it everything I have and get the crowd and intensity going. Most of the time it pays off. Whenever we draw, I try to rub off what the coaches have told me to the other guys who are starting, so we can get the intensity up. It's a fun and important position to be in.
Q: Where does Sunday's win rank compared to some of the duals you have been a part of in your career?
A: It's definitely up top. I was ecstatic. Right after the dual, I was calling everybody I could. I couldn't focus on anything for the rest of the night. I was lying in bed thinking about it and how incredible it was to be a part of something like that. The best part about it is: we deserved it. We have been busting it like crazy since offseason, and we really needed that confidence boost -- not just as a team but to get a lot of individuals to understand and believe in where we're at and where this program is going. That was really a huge win for the program.
Q: As a Michigan guy, are you looking forward to this in-state rivalry dual on Friday night?
A: Absolutely. I grew up a Michigan fan, so I have constantly had a back and forth with Michigan -Michigan State my whole life. Being an in-state kid, I take a lot of pride in the University of Michigan, being here in Ann Arbor and being involved in what we are doing. Michigan State is definitely one of those big rivalries, so I am very excited and I think the boys are ready. We're focused on not looking over anyone. As Coach [Joe] McFarland has stressed, we need to be prepared to compete hard and not concede anything. We all feel the same way, so I think we'll go in with the same intensity we had against Minnesota and wrap it up.
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