At the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships, Tyler McLean battled back from an opening loss to finish in fourth place in the 165 pound weight class. On top of that, he was named an All-American, becoming only the second male wrestler in the school’s NCAA era to achieve the feat.
How did being named All-American feel? “Really good,” McLean said. “It’s something that I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. So it was really cool to accomplish it.”
Heading into the tournament, McLean was the third seed from the western region, and faced a tough challenge ahead of him in the ultra competitive 165 pound weight class.
“Yeah I was pretty worried, because that weight class had seven returning All-Americans,” explained McLean. “And I haven’t [faced] any of them before, so it was kind of nerve-wracking. I lost at regionals one match [and] I was like ‘Oh boy, this is going to be a tough weight class.’”
Still, McLean persevered. After losing the first match, one McLean argued he “should have won,” he was forced to compete on the consolation side of the bracket, where every match was win or go home.
“When you lose in the championship side, you have to battle back,” he explained. “So then it’s like, do or die. So you kind of have that comfort zone when you’re on the championship side.
“[After I lost the first match] I was like, ‘well, now you just gotta go out and enjoy it.’ Do you wanna get eight [place] or no place? Or do you want to get fourth?”
McLean credits the environment of a National Championship with helping him relax and also stay motivated.
“It was great,” said McLean. “I guess the whole experience, there was tons of fans, it’s something that I’ve never experienced before. Just the environment to have those die-hard fans travel in all across the country and come watch, I kind of got that momentum going and just started enjoying it. I was telling Justin [Abdou, Head Coach]: ‘hey, I’m just going to go out there and have fun.’ [. . .] I was able to relax and just do what I love.”
The goal from now until the start of next season is to prepare the body and mind to win a national championship.
“Lots of lifting,” said McLean on his plans for the offseason. “Got to get stronger, probably a lot of speed work as well. We have the Olympic guys in there, it’s an Olympic year, so I’m going to try and grab all of those guys and hopefully pick their mind on some [techniques].”