On March 5 junior Andrew Schulte became the first national champion in the history of Concordia University wrestling. Schulte blazed to the 141-pound title without giving up a single offensive score in his five matches at the national tournament. He ultimately pinned Ottawa University’s Tyler Hinton in the championship bout, then leapt into the waiting arms of head coach Dana Vote.
Even before the championship match, Schulte would have had a compelling case for having put together the best season for any Concordia wrestler ever. He finished 2015-16 with an overall record of 40-6, breaking the school record for wins in a single season. Along the way, Schulte also won the NAIA North Qualifier 141-pound title and was honored as the GPAC wrestler of the year. He will carry a 26-match win streak into 2016-17.
Schulte has been the biggest standout for a program that has captured two-straight GPAC dual titles and two-consecutive NAIA North championships. The Bulldogs placed eighth nationally at the 2016 championships and now own a GPAC dual win streak of 14.
Below is a transcript of Schulte’s interview with Matt Harab for the Bulldog Coaches Show that aired on March 17 on KOOL 103.5 FM. In it, Schulte discussed in detail what it’s like to win a national title.
Matt Harab: Describe the feeling of winning a national title.
Andrew Schulte: I remember I closed my eyes. I saw both of his shoulders press the mat. To be honest, I noticed it happened and I closed my eyes. I just listened. I heard the whistle and I heard his hand slap the mat. It was over just like that. For me it was a moment of pure understanding. It made sense to me why I sacrificed and trained so many hours of hard work for a moment of being No. 1. That was special to me. I feel it’s been a long time coming for someone like myself. I got emotional. It was an unspeakable amount of joy. I would say it again. I can’t put into words how much joy I felt. Coach Vote is someone who knows me very well and he understands how important this was to me. He’s very goal-oriented too. It was an exciting moment for us.
MH: You had to win five matches to become a national champion. I would imagine there might have been a point during one of those matches where either physically or mentally you felt beaten or you had to come from behind. Was there ever a point like that? How did you overcome it?
AS: There was no point when I felt beaten. There were matches that were close. My semifinal match went into double overtime, but at no point did I engage in any kind of negative thought process or energy for that matter. The first whistle to the last whistle I just wrestled my match. I wrestled how I do in practice. I never stopped believing in myself. I believed in myself before I got to the tournament. I believe in myself now.
MH: It’s cliché to say at the beginning of the year you want to be a national champion. You strike me as someone that just has a ton of confidence in himself. I would imagine this was your goal in the very beginning to be a national champion.
AS: Absolutely. It’s been my goal for a while.
MH: As a team you guys finished in eighth place, highest in program history. What does that say about the program and the depth you have moving forward?
AS: We’re growing a little bit each year. We’re improving a little bit each year. We’re finding our niche as a team. I think it starts to mean more for the older guys for myself. Next year is my last year. I don’t want to be the only guy on my team on the stage next year. As long as we keep growing it’s going to be more and more important to each other. As long as we share that same value there’s no way they can stop us.
MH: When you accomplish the be-all, end-all goal that you did this year, how do you approach things in terms of your mindset and get back to the top?
AS: I think my approach to next year will be even better than last year. I left the national tournament last year with a bad taste. I got fifth. I won my last match, but I lost matches I shouldn’t have lost. It happens, but I think that fueled me. It was hard to have negative energy and also try to come out on top. Knowing that all the work at the end of the day is going to be worth it, makes it easier. I’m going to be fueled by happiness and that same joy that I felt in the finals. Personally I have a lot of intrinsic motivation. I love wrestling. It’s awesome and I’m grateful for it.