Nov. 14, 2013
Senior/junior Max Huntley, a two-time NCAA qualifier at 197 pounds, moved down a weight class -- to 184 -- in the offseason and has high expectations for his new spot in the lineup. With the Wolverines' official 2013-14 season opener just days away, Huntley took some time after practice to talk about the weight drop, U-M 's heralded freshman class and his plans for reaching the next level of success.
Q: You're moving down a weight class to 184 pounds. How do you feel there -- more comfortable, more confident?
A: I do. I feel a lot stronger, faster. The key to getting down to 84 the right way was to start back in June. I was watching what I ate really closely, getting two workouts in a day and just being really strict about it, because I knew that if I did it gradually then, it would be a lot easier than doing it now. I moved down a weight, but all my lifting has actually gone up, so I weigh less but I'm stronger than I was when I was at 197. So, I feel really good. I was a little small at 97, but now I'm big at 84. So, that's good, and I feel confident there.
Q: As an upperclassman now, you are starting to take on more of a leadership role? Has that happened naturally or are you trying to step up and take it?
A: I think it's kind of happened naturally. I'm not necessarily every day thinking about being a leader, but I'm thinking about doing my best in the workout room and people see that. I don't tend to scream in the middle of workouts, but I'm working hard and pushing the guy that I'm working with. It takes more than one leader in the room, because those guys down at 125 can't necessarily see what I'm doing down here on the other end of the mat. So, it takes more than just me, and we have a lot of good guys leading the team right now.
Q: Obviously a lot has been said about this top-ranked freshman class. How have you seen them contribute to the program already?
A: We've been working on changing the culture in our practice room, and I think this freshman class has a lot to do with that. We're definitely starting to mold into what our coaching staff wants to see. I work a lot with Domenic [Abounader]. He's been a great training partner. He's very athletic, he's constantly pushing me and continuing to develop every day.
Q: You've had some success over the past couple years but still haven't meet your goal. How do you see yourself getting over that last obstacle and reaching the next level?
A: That obstacle was that I was taking shortcuts and relying on my athleticism instead of my hard work, and that's when nerves come in and that's when doubt hits. Wrestling is a different sport. A lot of sports are raw athleticism, but wrestling is also a big mental battle. Athleticism plays in for the first two periods, but the third period is where toughness comes in and that's where how hard you work translates over. I realized this summer, talking to Coach [Donny] Pritzlaff, I've had a lot of problems with doubt and nerves in the past, and he told me that he never had nerves because he knew that if he just did everything he could, then there was nothing more he could do beyond that. So, that's what I'm focusing on and doing, and I just feel so much better. As long as I do everything I can in the room and not take any shortcuts, then when I step on the mat, I'm not nervous because I know I've done everything I can. Even if I lose, I've done everything I could to get ready for the match.
Q: The season officially starts this weekend. Are you guys ready to go?
A: I think we are; some guys more than others. You are never really, 100 percent ready, you're just ready enough. There's always something more you can do, something more to work on and prepare. But I think we feel ready enough, and I think a lot of the guys on the team are excited to compete.