Big Ten Medal of Honor Q&A: Ryan Bertin (2005)
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April 4, 2014

Big Ten Medal of Honor Q&A: Ryan Bertin (2005)

Big Ten Medal of Honor 100th Anniversary
Michigan's Big Ten Medal of Honor Recipients

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, the Michigan Athletic Department will be profiling some distinguished student-athlete alumni who received this prestigious academic and athletic honor.

Ryan Bertin was a two-time NCAA champion for the Michigan wrestling team, twice capturing the 157-pound title (2003, '05) while earning four All-America citations. He claimed Michigan's first NCAA individual title in 18 years and became just the third U-M wrestler to win an NCAA title as a sophomore when he defeated Illinois' Alex Tirapelle, 7-3, at the 2003 event. Two years later, he rolled past Iowa's Joe Johnston, 8-5, en route to his second NCAA crown, becoming the fifth multiple champion in U-M history.

Named the 2005 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and Michigan's male recipient of the 2005 Big Ten Medal of Honor, Bertin wrapped his collegiate career with a 142-21 career record, including a 63-7 dual mark, to rank fifth among U-M's all-time winningest wrestlers. A two-time team captain, Bertin was a three-time NWCA All-Academic and Academic All-Big Ten selection off the mat. He currently serves as a senior vice president at Signature Associates.

Big Ten Medal of Honor badge

Ryan Bertin
Q
What was your favorite memory as a student-athlete?
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I'd say my whole senior season. Not only did it finish well for me individually, but the way we finished as a team -- we were second that year. Just the group of guys that we had on that team was special. I'm still very close with most of them.
 
Q
What was the best lesson that you learned at Michigan?
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Consistency is the most important thing. Being consistent in your studies, in your work habits, with your diet, your sleep pattern, it all has an influence. That's probably the most valuable lesson I learned.
 
Q
How did Michigan prepare you for life after athletics?
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It takes a special mentality and fortitude to be a student-athlete, especially at a place like Michigan. While I was there, I learned how to deal with stressful situations and perform under stress. That had a lot to do with my success in wrestling, and it's still the case professionally in that it doesn't really bother me to be in high-stress situations. I'm able to react and meet that challenge.

Q
What is the most common thought that goes through your mind when looking back at your time at Michigan?
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My fondest thought goes to the friendships and relationships I made there. I met my wife there. [April Fronzoni Bertin, a 2004 graduate, was a member of Michigan's 2001 NCAA champion field hockey team.] I certainly have standout moments from the national tournament, and I can still vividly remember specific matches, especially my finals matches. But the relationships absolutely stand out more than anything else.
 
Q
What did it mean to receive the Big Ten Medal of Honor?
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It was very special, and I characterize it as one of the biggest accomplishments of my collegiate career. To me, it symbolizes being well-rounded, more than just any other average wrestler or athlete. It reflects a lot of balance as far as not just being good at one thing but good at multiple things -- in sport, in the classroom and in the community -- and being professional.
 
Q
Does the Medal of Honor have a greater meaning today than it did when you received it?
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Of course. It's a pretty selective honor, only one female and one male every year. I certainly appreciate what it stands for and represents. When you're in the moment, it can be hard to really understand what all that means.

• Previous Q&A: George Foussianes


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