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Q. It’s been a while since you’ve been at the top of the heap. What will you do different this year?

Brands: Well, thanks for reminding us. That’s number one. Getting back on top of the heap, I don’t think you change a whole lot. I’m not one of these guys that’s a proponent for shooting from the hip. I do know that we have to do some things differently as far as personnel and getting guys to do some things differently so they become more consistent. But you’re asking me to go a completely different direction. That’s not going to happen.

Q. Who do you have at 41, 49, 57?

Brands: Where are we at with those weights is Grothus is a returner at 49. 57 we have a veteran there, Mike Kelly. Those two guys will factor in, but there’s some exciting new names in there, as well, with Edwin Cooper and Brandon Sorensen, and then you look at 41, you have a guy like Topher Carton, who I’ll tell you, if you look at somebody you’d give a most improved award to in the wrestling room, it would probably be him.

The problem with that is that comes with reminders, so he responds well when things maybe start going the wrong way, but what about doing it on your own.

That’s really what you look for as a coach. When you look for someone who can change a match or maybe change a dual meet because of the way they wrestle, you’re going to have to do that on your own because when you’re sitting in that chair, there’s only so much that you can do for that competitor. Topher Carton is going to be the guy at 41, he’s got to challenge to beat a veteran there, and more than that he’s going to have to have the consistency I’ve been talking about.

Q. Nick Moore was wrestling as much as anyone last season and had a bad March. How has he been mending?

Brands: He’s been reminded of that again, and again, thanks for reminding us on that one, as well. He is a super competitor. He had a splendid high school career and he is frustrated, but the one thing you see with him is that he’s training this year angry and alone, and there’s a lot to that. There were days where it’s the dog days of summer and you’d be driving up Hawkins there on that bumpy curved road and here he is pulling that hill in full sweats and a stocking cap and it’s 95 degrees. That’s things that you don’t coach into guys.

When you’re training angry and you’re training alone, that means that you usually feel pretty good. When you see that you don’t honk and wave and let him know that you saw him, but you nod quietly to yourself that let’s get it done. There’s a lot of things that go into that, too. I mean, you saw the change in the bracket last year. Those are details that I don’t know if you remember that or not. Remember that’s the guy that beat him first round the year before, or the second round or whatever, and my point is those are mental things that we’ve got to get over, but when it’s 95 degrees and you’re out here in full sweats, I think he’s purging it in his own way. That’s what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to get it purged in your own way, not my way. As much as it hurt me, it doesn’t matter to me what I say to him, but it is going to matter how he handles that question because you should ask him that if you’ve got the stones to do it. Ask him that question and see how he answers it.

By Ross Bartachek (@rossbchek)

Lead Editor of IA Wrestle