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Getting to Know . . . Cornell's Nahshon Garrett

By MS, 01/17/14, 4:30PM EST

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Photo by BV

One of Cornell wrestling’s brightest stars, #1-ranked Nahshon Garrett, is 18-1 this season at 125 pounds. He finished in third place as a freshman at the 2013 NCAA Championships, avenging three of his regular-season losses along the way.

As head coach Rob Koll said after Garrett’s third place finish, “Wait until Nahshon learns how to wrestle!” It seems that time has come. Let’s learn a little more about the Big Red’s sophomore sensation.

MS: Who is your favorite Superhero? Why?

Nahshon Garrett: Superman. Definitely Superman. I like the fact that he’s the hidden hero kind of person. He’s on the down-low but he’s saving the world. He just cares about humanity so much that he’s always willing to risk his life.

MS: How are you like Superman?

NG: I think maybe one way I am [like Superman] is that I’m not all about the spotlight. I like to do things under the radar.

MS: What does it feel like to break someone?

NG: It feels good! It’s kind of empowering, in a weird way. You know that you’re stronger than them. You know that you defeated them. You just know that you’re greater.

MS: How do you know when they’re “broken”?

NG: You pick them up and slam them down, and there is a moment when they are just done. They just don’t want to wrestle anymore. They don’t fight you anymore. They’re not working anymore. They’re just done.

MS: Why didn’t you start wrestling until 9th grade?

NG: My mom wouldn’t let me wrestle! She was afraid of the germs on the mats, so she never let me be a part of organized sports until later on.

MS: Was she right?

NG: Yeah, she was definitely right. I’ve definitely gotten a couple of things. But it’s all for the best. You have to take your wins and losses.

MS: When did you first want to wrestle?

NG: When I was in seventh grade I really wanted to try it. Someone said I would be good at it. Then in eighth grade I started sneaking to practices against my mom’s will, but I eventually asked her if I could and she said “yeah”. I was really excited about that.

MS: What do you like about the sport?

NG: The individualism. I’m a big believer in my own personal self-improvement and am always continually getting better. Wrestling is one of those sports where, if there’s something I know I’m not doing right, I can always work to try to get better. In other sports you have to rely on other people if you want to be the best.

MS: What part of your background makes you special on the mat?

NG: When I first started I knew my body really well because I grew up dancing and entertaining. When I switched over to the sport, I already knew my hand-eye coordination very well.

MS: Who is your favorite teammate to watch wrestle?

NG: All the young guys, really. All the new freshmen. Mark Grey, Dylan Palacio, Brian Realbuto, Gabe Dean…they’re just so entertaining! You never know what they’re gonna do.

MS: Have you ever been entertained by yourself when watching one of your own matches on tape?

NG: This year, yeah! I feel like I’ve been a little more impressed with myself this year than last year. I make it more fun and I’m scoring a lot more points and trying to be the best on my feet – so yeah, definitely a lot more this year than last year.

MS: What are your career aspirations in wrestling?

NG: I think I can be an Olympic champion, so that’s my goal right now.

MS: Maybe an NCAA title too?

NG: Oh yeah, and those too. Three, actually.

MS: What are your career aspirations outside of wrestling?

NG: Development Sociology is my major right now, but I’m not exactly sure what I want to do. I’m just going with the flow and seeing what job opportunities open up.

MS: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?

NG: My relationship with God. My faith is the most important thing. It has to be something that is priority over everything in my life. It’s so easy to get caught up in the spotlight or your accolades, but my priorities must stay focused on God. I feel like he’s given me everything that I needed. I owe him everything. My whole life is dedicated to him. So in everything I do, I want to serve God and represent Jesus.

MS: How does your faith help you on and off the mat?

NG: Win or lose, I can be a representative of Jesus. Off the mat it brings a peace and balance that you just can’t find anywhere else. With the hectic nature of being an athlete and a student, it can be a lot of stress sometimes. It’s just nice knowing that there’s more to live for; there’s more purpose to your life than just getting through school, working a day job, you retire and you die. I refuse to believe there’s not more purpose to serve with my faith.

MS: Why Cornell?

NG: Well I think the obvious reason is the academics. The most attractive part was the coaches…

MS: Are you saying Coach Koll is pretty?

NG: Yeah, attractive guys you know. Haha. Don’t tell him I said that; I don’t want to blow his head up. No, but I think the coaching is really great here. They know how to harness talent and expand on it, make it more. They do a really good job at building me up, edifying me as a person and bringing confidence to my life and to my wrestling. I’m also going to graduate with an Ivy League degree, so that’s pretty cool. Not many people can say they’ve done that.

See Garrett and the Big Red in-person this Saturday, January 18th at the Friedman Wrestling Center as they begin Ivy competition against Harvard. If you can’t make it to the event, be sure to watch it live on the Ivy Digital Network or to listen on ESPN Ithaca – 1160 AM, 107.1 FM and www.espnithaca.com.

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