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July 05, 2018 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily

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10

Thursday, July 5, 2018
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
SPORTS

On Friday, there was an
airplane hovering somewhere
over the Midwest. This is not a
shocking revelation, but what
was in that plane makes the
story intriguing.
Sitting
inside
was
285-
pound wrestler Adam Coon, a
recently-minted Michigan alum
who had just qualified for the
Senior World Wrestling Team
— a glorious position paired
with elite company.
For any other wrestler that
weekend, it could be assumed
that they would’ve been flying
back home to celebrate or rest
after their showing at the World
Team Trials in Tulsa, Okla. But
Coon is not any other wrestler.
After
downing
long-time
opponent Robby Smith in the
Greco-Roman
World
Team
Trials,
Coon
couldn’t
let
himself celebrate. He had to fly
to Bethlehem, Penn. to compete
in the Freestyle World Team
Trials. Attempting to qualify
for both squads, Coon had to
consistently remain in attack
mode in order to see his goals

realized.
Coon would then go on to drop
the two matches — essential for
making the team — to another
former opponent, world bronze
medalist Nick Gwiazdowski, in
the Final X event at Lehigh.
It was a weekend to remember
for the heavyweight with highs
and lows, and, as he described
it, the longest sleep of his entire
life.
Coon’s
two
showdowns
arose
under
very
similar
circumstances, but would end
with two drastically different
outcomes.
To kick things off, Coon began
his World Team qualification
campaign against a man he had
just lost to in the U.S. Open, a
tournament prior to the World
Team Trials — four-time Greco
World Team member and 2016
Olympian Robby Smith.
In the U.S. Open, Smith was
able to set the tone early and
cruise to a 5-0 victory over the
Michigan man. But since being
named an NCAA All-American
automatically qualified Coon
for the World Team Trials, a
rematch seemed inevitable.
Closing the gap set during

the Open, Coon looked like a
new man on the mat and out-
muscled Smith for a 3-1 first
round win in a best-of-three
series. Looking to put things
away and earn his spot on the
World Team, Coon entered into
an impeccably close second
match. Narrowly trailing late
into the bout, Coon laid it all
on the line and slammed the big
man down for a last-second pin
to put Smith away for good.
“It was a little different
strategy
that
goes
into
wrestling with him,” Coon said.
“I made some small adjustments
in strategy, and it worked on
a bunch of small positioning
things that took a lot of work.
And it was just that small
change that ended up leading
to a pin. I mean he’s a fierce
competitor, so it was great to be
able to take a couple away from
him, but I know he’s gonna be
able to come back very strong,
so I have to make sure I’m ready
to go when he comes back.”
Coon
also
found
success
in his ability to pummel with
Smith and hold his position,
which ultimately led to the
victory. Being able to set your

position against a guy with
the command and upper-body
strength of Smith is no easy
feat. In fact, it had seemed
almost impossible for Coon
until the Finals.
Coon couldn’t revel in his
achievement, though, as he had
a plane to catch.
During his travels, Coon
had to completely switch gears
while
attempting
to
avoid
fatigue. Switching from Greco
to Freestyle is a tall order as
leg attacks are forbidden in
Greco. Adding on an entire
half of the body as a target can
certainly throw a wrench in any
wrestler’s approach.
“Once Greco was done, it
was just a quick transition, (I)
didn’t really have much time
to celebrate,” Coon said. “Just
get to the airport and start
thinking about Freestyle, just
getting my mind ready for the
leg attacks because in Greco,
obviously, you don’t have the
leg attacks. So, it’s just thinking
about a different style as we’re
travelling through and just
change your mind and recover.”
In
Bethlehem,
another
familiar opponent was waiting

for him. This time it was
two-time
NCAA
Champion
Gwiazdowski,
commonly
referred to as, “Gwiz.”
The Final X was not the first
time Coon saw Gwiz on the
other side of the mat. The two
squared off most notably in the
2015
NCAA
Championships
where Coon fell 7-6 to the then-
reigning champ. With a notion
of how to best defeat Gwiz,
Coon gave the best-of-three
series everything he had before
falling in straight matches 6-1
and 6-1, respectively.
It was here that Coon’s plan
— to become the first man to
qualify for both the Greco and
Freestyle World Teams since
1981 — came to an end.
“He did a really good job
defending my stuff,” Coon said.
“I, on the other hand, let him get
to his attacks too much. I didn’t
do a really good job executing
the plan we had in place while
he did, so that just gave him the
results that happened.”
There’s no doubt that fatigue
was another huge factor that
played into this showdown.
With hardly any recovery time,
the mountain just seemed a bit
too steep for Coon. But never
the one to make excuses, the
Michigan alum gives all credit
to his opponent.
“Exhaustion might’ve played
a factor, but at the same time,
I’m not gonna make excuses,”
Coon said. “He was better than
me that day, and obviously, if we
wrestle another day, I’d like to
go after him again, but on that
day he was the better wrestler,
so he’s the World Team guy for
sure.”
Coon can’t be that upset,
though, as he did make one
World Team. From here, Coon
will train in anticipation of
the World Championships in
Budapest, Hungary in October
of this year.
“It’s been a few years since
I’ve been on one of these
world teams, so I haven’t been
wrestling
[wrestlers
from
other countries] for a long
time,” Coon said, “So I’m really
looking forward to testing my
skills against the best in the
world just to see where I fit in
on that pecking order.”
Being able to focus on one
style will be good for the
heavyweight, and with any
luck, the plane to Budapest will
be the only one Coon will have
to take in his time competing
for a championship.

Coon makes one World Team but falls in another

JACOB KOPNICK
Summer Managing Sports Editor

RYAN MCLOUGHLIN / DAILY
Former Michigan heavyweight Adam Coon qualified for the Greco-Roman World Team but came up short in the Freestyle World Team Trials against Nick Gwiazdowksi

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