Braxton Amos learning on the job

From left, Wisconsin heavyweight Trent Hilger, Braxon Amos and Badgers head coach Chris Bono pose for a picture earlier this week outside of Madison Square Garden. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — It’s definitely been a year of learning on the job for Wisconsin 197-pound sophomore-to-be Braxton Amos.

The Parkersburg South graduate competed on Wednesday inside New York City’s Madison Square Garden against G’Angelo Hancock, but came up short 8-0 and 8-2 during the Final X event in their best-of-three 97kg Greco-Roman matchup as Hancock qualified for his sixth consecutive world team.

“That was my first time in New York City,” said Amos, who qualified for the NCAA Championships and went 1-2 with a pair of one-point setbacks for head coach Chris Bono. “It was fun. They did it up.”

Amos, who also lost to Hancock last spring during the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials, was quick to point out “he’s good. I got my butt kicked last year and the score wasn’t really that much different this time around, but I’m making progress and starting to close the gap in my eyes and my coaches’ eyes.

“I’m not one that believes in moral victories. It still stings, but I know that what we are doing is working. If one positive is to come out of losing this week it’s that we’re making progress and doing the right stuff. It’s going to take time. I do Greco about five weeks a year and he does it for 365 days a year. This is all he does.”

The two-time Robert Dutton Award winner, who didn’t allow an offensive point in high school, has adjusted to collegiate wrestling but it’s had a learning curve of its own.

“It was very humbling to kind of realize, like hey, in high school I could kind of, I’m not going to say do what I wanted to do and still win, but it’s crazy how there are levels to everything,” said the former Patriot. “Especially in college, no one cares who you’ve beat or who you are. You better be ready to go at all times or it’s going to hurt. You know, I just wasn’t ready to do it, and that’s on me. I had the time, the coaching and all the resources in the world. I didn’t take advantage of what was in front of me.

“It’s cliche when you say if you are not winning you are learning. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but there are definitely things I’ve taken away. I’ve gone back through what I did during the season. How I was training, nutrition, all the way down to how well you are sleeping. Are you sitting around during the day? We kind of just put it all down and figured out what needed to change and we implemented that in the training up for the World Team Trials and we implemented it for Final X. It was the best I’d ever felt going into Wednesday.”

Another area where things are different for Amos when compared to high school is the mental aspect of competing.

“I still see them now. It’s something I didn’t really believe in or thought I needed. Going into the season and knowing what I know now and my experience with it, I wish I would’ve done it from the beginning,” Amos said of utilizing a sports psychiatrist. “Our coaches will sit down and talk about whatever we need to talk about.

“Sometimes it’s nice to sit down and talk to someone that’s completely separate from everything else going on. One guy is dedicated to mindset going into competing. It’s crazy how much the generation before really never had anybody like this. It’s progressed so quickly to where it’s at now. It’s so amazing.”

Amos said he’s currently just relaxing and preparing to do some summer camps before his sophomore season begins at Wisconsin.

Although he qualified to represent the United States in the U23 World Championship set for mid-October in Spain, the Badger has pretty much decided against competing.

“Unless something crazy happens I’m probably not going,” Amos added. “November 1 is the first date we are allowed to compete in the NCAA. That’s the first date they can schedule a dual meet for us. I’d be getting back from Spain in late October. I have a meeting with our nutritionist on Monday to figure out what the game plan is to start bringing my weight down and I can still lift, run and love the things I do and not hate life so I can eat.

“In order to be competitive at 97 kilograms I got to be at 98, 99 kilos walking around, and to be competitive at 197 I need to be realistically walking around 206, which is about 10 pounds more than I need to be competing at 97 kilos. We are prioritizing college wrestling right now. I still love freestyle and Greco, but I have three years left of college eligibility. Jordan Burroughs is 33. That gives me 10-plus years of international wrestling available. Why not prioritize the stuff I have limited time with.”

Aside from healing up a few nagging injuries, Amos is focused on his training and the camps he will be doing this summer.

One thing he definitely learned about being a student-athlete at the Division I level is having limited free time, although he was able to attend various sporting events like football games and volleyball matches.

“It’s pretty straight forward. You go to class. You go to workouts. You do recovery and really you don’t have a lot of time for anything else,” he said. “They tell you there are three aspects to being a college athlete, social life, academics and sports, and you have to pick two. If you do all three you won’t be very good at any of them.”

When asked if he’s had any serious success with the new NCAA rule for Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) the Badger had a good laugh.

“I don’t think anybody got into wrestling for the money and if they did they are stupid,” quipped Amos. “We do it because we love the sport. My whole goal with the NIL stuff is to save enough money to put a down payment on a house when I get out of school.

“As long as my rent is paid and I got money to see a movie once in a while and enough money to go shoot once in a while, I’m pretty happy. I don’t enjoy a whole lot of expensive things.”

However, one thing he would enjoy is getting to do some hunting this year in The Badger State.

“Wisconsin’s gun season is the same time as our gun season in West Virginia,” Amos said. “Last year we just didn’t have enough time.

“I was cutting a lot of weight. I thought I was going to have a ton of free time and life said I wasn’t. Hopefully, this year I get out to hunt a little bit.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com


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