UNI head coach Doug Schwab, known by some for his long answers to media questions, actually needed prompting (Ok, just once) during a phone call on Thursday evening.
I asked, what do you tell your guys?
“You tell them a lot of things, no one knows (how to react),” he said. “It’s unprecedented.”
The other side of the line went quiet for a second. And I tried to fill it for him. I started, “How can you…”
And Schwab took it from there.
“I think that the preparation they’ve put in, the work they’ve done, it doesn’t end here. The things, they’ve built, it will help them. This isn’t the end.”
It is the end for a few who thought they would wrestle again though. Jay Schwarm won’t get to choose top again. Max Thomsen won’t gut out another match on one leg. Bryce Steiert won’t sink his hips into another opponents shot.
Taylor Lujan won’t take the mat as the top seed in the NCAA Tournament. His knees might still bend the wrong way though.
The UNI program’s coach lost his mom last season, and it was, and is, a lingering message going forward. Schwab talks consistently about how wrestling isn’t the end, a career is just the start of a life. But even he couldn’t seem to get his mind around this so quickly.
“It’s tough because its so fresh,” Schwab said. “Its hard to have perspective.”
“I’m not going to tell them how to feel, we’ll just be there for our guys.”