Q&A With Tommy Rowlands, Olympic Alternate

Tommy Rowlands Places Second at the Olympic Trials:
Buckeye Coach will be 2008 Olympic Alternate
Kevin Schlosser; the-ozone.net

Tommy Rowlands advanced to the finals of the Olympic Trials by winning a US national championship in April. His opponent that day was long time rival Steve Mocco. They met again in the finals in June as Mocco fought his way through the qualifier to wrestle Rowlands for the sixteenth time in their careers. Each and every match before finals of the Olympic Trials was a war and Sunday in Las Vegas was no different.

In a best of three series of matches in the championship finals; Mocco won the first the first match 1-0, 1-0. In the first period they wrestled to a scoreless tie before Mocco scored a takedown off the clinch. Rowlands stepped out of bounds in the second period to give Mocco the lead and the first match.

Rowlands came back in the second match to force a third and deciding match by winning a 3-0, 1-0 decision. Wrestling to a second scoreless tie in the first period, he picked up a three-point takedown out of the clinch. In the second period Mocco returned the favor by stepping out of bounds to give Rowlands the match winning point.

With an Olympic birth on the line in the third and final match, Mocco won a 1-0, 2-0 decision. He scored the only point in the first with a push out and came back with two takedowns in the second to win the match. Mocco earned the spot on the 2008 Olympic team by winning the series two to one.

The Olympic Trials are used to determine who will represent the United States at the Olympic Games. They call the winner of the Trials a champion, but both of Mocco and Rowlands were champions long before they met for what appears to be the final time. Champions are made through hard work and dedication and each has earned the right to be called a champion.

Mocco and Rowlands have met many times since the start of their college careers so it was not a surprise to see either in the finals or that the series was another epic battle. With a win in the final match; Mocco took the series lead nine to seven and earned the Olympic birth. Rowlands will be the alternate for the Olympic team and would wrestle if Mocco were unable to compete.

With the conclusion of the Olympic Trials, Rowlands has made the decision to retire from active competition. While he did not leave his shoes on the mat; Rowlands is unlikely to continue training beyond this summer. He will be ready to go if Mocco doesn’t make the trip, but as it stands Rowlands will move on and put his focus on his family and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

With twenty-four hours to put things in perspective; Rowlands took the time on the plane ride home for an interview to discuss the Olympic Trials, his family, and his future.

How do you feel about your performance at the Olympic Trials?

“Obviously I am disappointed. I feel like I competed hard and just didn’t get the win. It is a big disappointment but I have perspective and that is how is goes sometimes.”

Is there something that you think made a difference in the series?

“I really don’t think there is any one thing I can point a finger at other than the fact that he and I have always been very close. I don’t think I capitalized on some things technically I could have”¦ mainly my underhook; I didn’t really score as much as I should have from it. At the same time he is a great competitor. In the back of my mind I always knew it was going to come down to me and him as to who would make the Olympic team.”

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently in Las Vegas or while training?

“I really don’t think so; I competed as hard as I could so I really don’t have any regrets. I wish I would have executed better, but I don’t think there is anything I would have done differently.”

Can you comment on the overall experience of preparing for the Trials and everything that you have done in the last four years?

“I have no regrets. I love the sport and I love everything it has given to me and taught me. I have come up on the short end of the stick before on things that were really important to me. It stings and it is going to be a long summer with all those Olympic commercials and the Olympic Games. I’ll get over it, try to learn from it, and move on.”

From looking around the stands; you had people from every step in your life; your parents, your wife, your daughter, former teammates, current wrestlers, past coaches, fellow coaches, and plenty of friends. What can you about the support you had?

“I thought it was incredible. I felt like I had the biggest presence of any individual at the Trials. I think that probably disappoints me a little more than anything because they were behind me so much. They have all made it a point to tell me they were happy no matter what. I really wanted to go out with a bang especially for them so it was disappointing because it was great to see them supporting me like that.”

Can you discuss the rivalry that you have had over the years with Steven Mocco?

“It was a great rivalry; I probably got the short end of the stick even though I won the NCAA championship and made the world team last year. This was the big one. He is a great competitor. I can’t speak for him but I assume we have a mutual admiration for each other. I know I have a lot of respect for him.”

What made him such a tough competitor over the years?

“He is really hard to score on and he is really good at capitalizing on his opponents’ mistakes. I think those are the two biggest things. He has a great center of gravity. I usually get the angle on guys that are his weight really well, but getting an angle on Steve Mocco is hard to find.”

How hard will it be to watch Mocco and the other wrestlers competing in China?

“It will be really difficult. It has been a goal for a long time and a dream of mine for a real long time. It is going to be hard to see all those guys out there seeing their dreams while I am sitting at home.”

“I have a perspective on things and I am most happy that I have a great family; in particular my wife and daughter. Those are the things that will last a lifetime. The things that I have learned from this sport will also last a lifetime but it is going to hurt.”

Where does Tommy Rowlands go from here?

“I am pretty sure that I am done wrestling. I always knew that this was the end of the road. I was trying to put an exclamation point on my career. Everyone is telling me not to make any rash decisions while I am feeling this way.” “I guess it is not really official but I want to do some other things with my life. I want to get a bigger family. I am not sure if I want to have a career as a wrestler because realistically it is a selfish lifestyle. The only thing I didn’t do in my career that I wanted was to participate in the Olympic Games and compete for a Gold medal.””Everything that will happen between now and the next Olympic Trials; for the most part would be meaningless to me as a competitor so I don’t think it is something I am going to do any more. I love the sport, I love Ohio State wrestling, and I will be involved without question.”

So you are planning on staying at Ohio State and working with the Buckeyes full time now?

“Yes, that definitely is the plan.”

In the past year you have flirted with professional football and have been an MMA training partner. Are you interested in trying something besides wrestling in the future?

“I have been pursued by those sports. It is entertaining to hear from them; but I don’t find any substance or structure in it so I just don’t see it as a real possibility.”

In closing do you have any last thoughts or something you want to say?

“I really appreciate the community support leading up to this. It seemed a little bit anticlimactic just because I didn’t get the job done. The community backing and everything I have heard from people has really meant a lot to me. Those are the kind of things that I am never going to forget and I want everyone to know how much I really appreciate that.”

Wrestling Gear

Mat Wizard Hype
Mat Wizard Hype
Asics Dave Schultz Classic
Asics Dave Schultz Classic
JB Elite IV
JB Elite IV
Cael V6.0
Cael V6.0
Adidas Adizero
Adidas Adizero
Nike Hypersweep
Nike Hypersweep

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