Heavyweight Fish dreaming big heading into Olympic wrestling trials
Fish, a corporal from Hartland, Wisconsin, who’s been in the Marines since 2005, said the key for him is a matter of weight. Don’t get caught on the bottom against another wrestler in his 120-kilogram weight class.
“I’m only 245 pounds. Other guys are cutting to make the 265-pound limit. My goal is not to get stuck underneath them. That’s the way I look at it,” Fish said. “But I’ve wrestled two of the best three guys and I’ve taken them down and scored on them. So I feel confident whoever I wrestle I can take down.”
Coach Dan Hicks is equally confident in Fish, who is in an “extremely tough” weight class and is the only one of the six Marines wrestling freestyle. The other five are competing in Greco-Roman. The primary difference is Greco-Roman wrestlers aren’t allowed to grab their foes’ legs or use their legs in any aggressive maneuvers.
“We’ve got three of the U.S. guys (at 120 kg) who will be there have won world medals. We’re very deep at freestyle everywhere,” Hicks said. “But the good thing about Fish is we don’t get too many freestyle guys going to Olympic Trials.
“So it’s going to be nice to see a Marine singlet during the freestyle trials. We don’t get to see that much. He did great. We don’t train that much (freestyle). Usually we’re Greco. So he did a real good job.”
Fish is a relatively late arrival on the mat, taking up wrestling in the eighth grade so he could get in shape for football. Once he started wrestling, it was so long football.
“I became a full-time wrestler,” he said. “I played (football) like through middle school and then started wrestling and loved it. I just liked the one-on-one aspect of it. You only have yourself to blame if you lose.”
And while he agreed “competitors are competitors,” there was something Fish found in wrestling that he didn’t find in team sports.
“It’s something about competing one on one,” he said. “It’s easier to focus on what lost you (a match) than anything else. … That’s pretty much it. You have to look at yourself and see what you have to do.”
Fish, who qualified for the Olympic Trials through the Sunkist Open, was a two-time state high school championship qualifier in Wisconsin at Arrowhead Union High School and made the junior national team numerous times, he said.
He’s been back and forth with the Marine team, having to return to his unit for six months before returning, and then he missed much of last year on the mats after injuring a ligament in his knee.
“But I’m back and ready to go,” he said.
Ask Fish about the pressure of the trials and he shrugs, albeit a big shrug from a big man.
“I’ve been to the world team trials before. This is just an Olympic year. It’s the same amount of pressure, I think,” he said. “I’ve just got to go out there and do what I do best.”
Reminded more than 11,000 tickets have been sold for the event at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Fish did admit thoughts of the huge crowd and the bright lights have “run through my mind.”
“That venue’s going to be packed. It’s going to be a lot more people than I’ve ever wrestled in front of. I kind of have to look at it just like I come in here on the mats and wrestle, just not really think about it,” he said.
“I’ve wrestled in front of big crowds before. I’ve wrestled at junior national duals when I was in high school. So the Olympic pressure, I mean it adds just a little bit, but not too much. I just want to like get ready and go, really.”