National Champion Interview
Koscheck Running Away From The Pack
by John Fuller
Football was always main priority
in Josh Koscheck's life. The former star running back at Waynesburg
High School in Pennsylvania had planned, and desired, a life
in the rugged sport.
But while Koscheck was being recruited
by colleges such as Bloomsburg, Edinboro and Pittsburgh, he
changed directions, like so many of the great running backs
he planned to emulate.
Koscheck decided to pursue the
sport of wrestling in college.
That decision seemed to pay off
this past season, when Koscheck, a junior 174-pounder for Edinboro,
won an NCAA individual title with an 8-1 decision over Maurice
"It felt really good,"
Koscheck said as he took a rare moment to reflect on last season.
"It showed that my hard work has paid off. Coming from
the little town of Waynesburg, I wasn't supposed to win anything."
Koscheck, who resembles a football
player even in his style of wrestling, had been in that position
before. He was an NCAA Finalist in 2000, when he lost to Oklahoma's
That match, along with his other
three losses that season, helped shape what would turn out to
be a historic season for this small-town hero.
"I prepared myself totally
different this year than I did last year. Byron Tucker is a
great wrestler, but I don't think I prepared as well. I thought
I could've prepared myself better mentally and physically,"
said Koscheck, still disappointed from his last loss of over
one year ago.
Koscheck went back to the drawing
board following that loss. He trained all summer, working on
his mat skills. He felt he was good enough physically to win
the title, but he knew that more would be needed to stand on
the top of the podium.
"When I'm intense, I don't
think anybody can hang with me," he will tell anyone.
But this season, someone did hang
with Koscheck - Iowa's Gabe McMahan. It was easily Koscheck's
closest match this season, and in his opinion, the 5-4 tiebreaker
victory was a turning point in his season.
"I didn't set a goal of going
undefeated. I didn't even have that in my mind," he said,
assuring himself he was not overlooking another victim. "I
was very lucky to get out of that match alive. It was kind of
a turning point for the season for me. I learned from that,
so that match kind of played to my favor."
Koscheck feels that one can never
be satisfied, even in victory, and that philosophy helped him
to a 42-0 record this season. It would mark the first time an
Edinboro wrestler went undefeated for a full season.
He also became the fifth three-time
All-American in school history, with a chance to join the prestigious
NCAA wrestling fraternity of four-time All-Americans. Koscheck
placed fifth at the NCAA Tournament in 1999.
"I don't even look at myself
as being a champ," a humble Koscheck stated. "I know
what I have to do. I have seen what can happen, just look at
Brad Vering. That's not where I want to be."
Vering was the 2000 NCAA Champion
at 197-pound before ending his career with a seventh-place finish.
Being humble is something Koscheck
has been used to. His grandparents raised him after his mother
gave birth to him when she was just 18 years old. His mother
stayed with his grandparents after Koscheck was first born,
and he stayed permanently.
"I don't think she was ready
to take the responsibility of raising me," he stated while
also noting a solid relationship with his mother.
The decision to stay turned out
to be a good one as well, as it was there he began to wrestle.
"I needed something to take
my aggression out on because I was a terror. I fell in love
with it, but I really wasn't serious about it."
For a while, Koscheck would fall
out of love with it.
He began to cut excessive amounts
of weight in high school, wrestling at 135 pounds as a junior.
The next season, Koscheck wrestled at 160 pounds, and he showed
his true colors, becoming a state finalist, considered to be
more of an honor in the state of Pennsylvania than winning the
title in most other states.
He chose to wrestle at Edinboro
because he felt it was where he could be successful. He also
related well to a youthful coaching staff that is clearly building
one of the top programs in the nation.
"These four years I have
been at Edinboro have been awesome," Koscheck said with
a smile that has almost become trademark for him. "I already
have my degree and am going to enter grad school next fall.
Edinboro has just helped me become a better person and a better
For now, Koscheck will have to
concentrate on becoming the first repeat national champion in
Edinboro history, which would just add to his already historic
career. According to him, though, it shouldn't be a far cry
from everyday life.
"I win it all every day in
the wrestling room."
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