The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Stoll gains experience, maturity

Peter Kim
Iowa’s Sam Stoll holds onto Oklahoma’s Austin Marden at the Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Pistol Pete, 18-16. (The Daily Iowan/Peter Kim)

The redshirt freshman is starting to emerge as a young star for the Iowa wrestling team.

By Courtney Baumann

[email protected]

He finished his high-school career with a national record 63-consecutive pins. He was perfect in his final 99 matches at Kasson-Mantorville, and Sam Stoll went down as one of the best high-school wrestlers Minnesota had ever seen.

But it’s not high school anymore.

Regardless, he has gotten off to a hot start in his college career at Iowa and pinned his last four opponents of his redshirt freshman season.

After spending his redshirt season training under the tutelage of four-time national qualifier Bobby Telford, Stoll has secured the heavyweight spot for 2015-16. From what he’s shown so far, it would not be out of the question to assume the spot will be his for the three years to come as well.

Stoll still has the advantage of competing in the practice room with Telford, who has stayed in Iowa City to train with the Iowa Wrestling Club. He also has assistant coach Ben Berhow, a three-time national qualifier at Minnesota.

“Telford had a great career here at Iowa, and it’s good to have another partner in the room,” Stoll said. “All the little guys, they have like 30 partners, so when I have partners of Telford’s and Berhow’s caliber, it’s really great.”

Stoll’s background in Greco-Roman wrestling has given him an advantage so far in NCAA folk-style competition.

Stoll placed fifth at Junior Worlds in Brazil this past summer for the Greco team.

Greco competition forbids holds below the waist, resulting in wrestlers being focused primarily on upper-body fighting.

Berhow sees it as a huge advantage for Stoll, because fewer heavyweight wrestlers are comfortable in the kind of positions the heavyweight has worked on throughout his career.

This also plays into his defense because of the amount of pressure he puts on his opponents.

“When he’s going forward, his defense is going to be stronger,” Berhow said. “The way he wrestles in a Greco-Roman arena is going to help his defense when he pushes guys off the mat. He puts pressure on them to where they’re taking bad shots and bad attacks, then he’s able to squash them and score.”

The Kasson, Minnesota, native had to have a short, three-month turn-around from training Greco for Junior Worlds to training folk-style for college competition.

It has been a work in progress, but he has gained ground quickly.

Through drills and sparring in practice, Stoll has started to make up for the legwork that he did not need to focus on in his Greco training.

“Leg attacks are always something I’m looking to improve on,” Stoll said. “I probably wasn’t the best low-level guy coming out of high school, and that’s something I think I’ve improved on and continue to improve on.”

Stoll’s wrestling is not the only thing that has improved during his time in the Iowa wrestling room. Over the past year, especially the last few months, Stoll has become a more mature and mentally sound person.

Working with Berhow and Telford has largely contributed to that.

Putting in work against the two high-end wrestlers has taught Stoll how to keep his head up and continue to work hard even when he “had his lunch handed to him” at practice, said head coach Tom Brands.

His coaches are not the only ones who have noticed this.

Stoll has become someone younger wrestlers on the team can look to for proof that hard work in the wrestling room can and will translate to something more if they continue to put forward the effort.

“He’s a good example for guys who maybe don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel in the wrestling room,” Brands said. “He’s got a long way to go and he’ll tell you that. He’s accountable … It’s an important concept for our young guys to see.

“There is a reason you come in here and tax yourself every day.”

Follow @cbomb12 on Twitter for Iowa wrestling news, analysis, and updates.

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