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February 07, 1994 - Image 16

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-02-07

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8 - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, February 7, 1994

HARPER
Continued from page 1
are also consulting actuaries who
consult companies on how to handle the
benefits that they offer their employees."
To gain experience in the field,
Harper became part of a program
called "Mentors for Michigan
Athletes," where he works closely
with a consulting actuary in the Ann
Arbor area named Dan Peterson.
"He's one of the nicest people I've
ever met," said Harper of his mentor.
"For a person to sign up for something
like that is amazing. He had no idea
who I was, and I had no idea who he
was. He just signed up for this, willing
to help a Michigan athlete."

Peterson, likewise, had nothing
but praise for Harper.
"I've been very impressed with
him," he said. "There's a lot of
opportunity in the actuary field, but
it's something that you really have
to work at, but he knows that and is
committed to it."
As if he didn't have enough to
do with wrestling, academics, and the
mentorship program, Harper is also
involved in the Undergraduate 'M'
Club, which works to help student
athletes.
Bahr's favorite story reflects
Brian's attitude toward college.
"He said to me, 'You know,
Coach, I look at going to college as
like walking down a hallway with a

lot of doors on each side. A student
can walk right down that hallway
and never be involved in anything,
and get out at the other end with
their degree. Then there can be the
student who walks down the
hallway and opens every door, who
samples this, gets involved in that,
and meets a lot of people,' and he
said, 'Coach that's the person I
want to be, and that's what I wanted
to do while I was at Michigan."'
Harper's work ethic and
determination have always been
part of his personality.
. He grew up in the small town of
Burlington, Wash., about 15 minutes
from the Pacific Ocean and a hour
from Seattle. According to his father,

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Jim, when Brian was younger "he
worked down in the valley and did
twice the work that the older boys did."
He is the youngest of three sons,
but according to his mother,
Barbara, the three always got along.
"They joked around, but they
never took each other very
seriously," she said. "They've
always been very supportive of
each other."
The Harper family also has a very
strong athletic background. Jim was a
state wrestling champion as well as
captain of the state champion football
team in high school.
Brian's oldest brother Bill was a
wide receiver at Washington State,
and his other brother Barry played
junior college football.
Not to be left out, Brian also
played football in high school. He
was a three-time football letterwinner,
playing both middle linebacker and
fullback. The football story that says
the most about Harper is the one from
his senior year.
"We were ranked second in the
country, and were just tough as
could be," he said. "But the first
game of the playoffs, we were upset
by a team that ended up walking
through and winning it all.
"We were up 21-0 at halftime and
they ended up winning the game by
two - after a two-point conversion."
It is the last part of the story that
speaks volumes about the competitive
side of Brian Harper. Five years after
the fact he tells the story in a tone of
voice that leads one to believe that he
is still upset over what happened.
While he played on some great
football teams in high school, it was
wrestling at which he really excelled.
He was state champion his
sophomore year and compiled a
record of 105-11 in four years as a
varsity wrestler at Burlington-
Edison High School.
The fact that he was a standout at
two sports left Harper with a decision

to make when it came time for
college, but he says that it wasn't a
very tough decision.
"I love football, but I'm a little
small," he said. "I was in the
position where I could wrestle
Division I, but I couldn't play
football Division I."
During Harper's senior year at
Burlington-Edison, Bahr received a
videotape from Harper's high
school coach Jack McTaggert. The
tape was a video of Harper beating
another Wolverine recruit, Joey
Gilbert, at the Junior National
Championships.
"We thought, 'Hey, this kid
looks pretty tough,' so we invited
him in for a visit," Bahr said.
Harper's visit to Michigan,
however, began on a somber note.
The weekend he came to Ann
Arbor, Bahr's father-in-law passed
away. As a result, Bahr wasn't in
town when Harper made his trip.
That didn't have an effect on
Harper, though.
"I had heard a lot of good things
about coach Bahr - all positive
things," he said. "Plus the
combination of (Michigan's)
academic reputation, and it's one of
the top wrestling programs in the
country. I would have been dumb to
pass it up."
So Harper decided to come to
Michigan. He was redshirted his
freshman year, but has started, and
steadily improved every year since.
Last season, he compiled a 31-14
overall record and was 11-5 in dual
meets. He finished third at the Big
Ten Championships and qualified
for the NCAA Championships.
This year, his climb to the top has
continued. He has a record of 23-4
overall and is 11-1 in dual meets.
Harper became only the 12th
wrestler in Michigan history to win
100 matches when he defeated Ohio
State's Charlie Becks Friday night.
It was a major accomplishment,

the importance of which wasn't lost0
on Harper.
"I didn't really think that much
about it coming into the match," he
said. "But after I got it, and they
announced it - it felt great. It was a
much better feeling than I expected."
Harper finished last season
ranked No. 10 in the country and
has climbed higher in the rankings
this season.
"I hope to live up to those
expectations, that's my goal," said
Harper about his ranking. "Of
course I'd like to do better, but I at
least want to prove that I'm the
third-best wrestler in the country."
Harper's teammates say that it is
his strong work ethic that makes
him such a great leader.
"He's someone to really look up
to," redshirt freshman Andy Behm@
said. "He works so hard, and puts
so much into it - he's an
inspiration to everyone."
Bormet, the other captain of this
year's squad, agrees.
"One of the biggest things about
Brian is his work ethic," he said.
"He's one of those math majors
who does everything by the rules."
"He leads by example," redshirt.
sophomore Jesse Rawls Jr. said.
"When you see Harper working
hard, you have to work hard - and
he's always working hard."
Harper's success has come as a bit
of a surprise to the coaching staff.
"He has exceeded my
expectations," Bahr said. "Primarily
because his personality and work
ethic have made him that way."
Brian Harper can be best 0
described as the All-American kid.
He came from a small town, worked
hard and made it to the top of his
chosen sport. He's a dedicated
student, has a promising career
ahead of him, and is getting married
this summer.
"It sounds like a dream come
true," said Bahr. "Everyone would
like to have their dreams come true>4
but you have to make your dreams
come true, and I think that is where
Brian excels."
With his success this season, and
the Olympics coming up in 1996,
one has to wonder if Harper will
take a shot at a trip to Atlanta.
He says no.
"I've devoted enough time in
my life to the sport," he said. "I'll
be ready to get on with a somewhat
normal life, and devote as much
energy and time as I can toward my
career."
Seeing how far that hard work
has taken him already, there's no
doubt it will take him even further
in the future.

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