More than two years after their last matches at Iowa State, twins Trent and Travis Paulson remain inseparable.
They live together, they train together and now they’re back at ISU together to continue their quest to become world and Olympic freestyle wrestling champions.
“We’ve always wanted to stay together, just because we feed off each other. We always have,” Travis said Tuesday. “We know what we’re capable of and we push each other to the limit.”
Their return figures to be a two-way deal in the Cyclone wrestling room.
The Paulsons say they’ll benefit from training under Iowa State Coach Kevin Jackson, an Olympic gold medalist and former national team coach. Jackson’s ISU wrestlers will benefit from having the Paulsons as workout partners.
“Our mentality is we want to work harder in practice than we do in a match,” Jackson said. “A match should be easier than practice, so with these guys in our room, it kind of plays into that. We’re actually wrestling at a higher level than we’ll face in competition. There are no collegians as good as these guys right now.”
Trent Paulson ended his Iowa State career by winning the NCAA championship at 157 pounds in 2007 and finished with a 115-20 record. Travis finished fifth at 165 in his final NCAA meet and went 106-32 at ISU.
The former Council Bluffs Lewis Central stars have been training at Nebraska for the past year.
“I just kind of had a deep feeling that I’d be a part of something special by coming back,” Trent said. “Not only will the Cyclones be right in there to be national champions as a team, at the same time they’re winning national titles, Travis and I will be making world teams and winning world medals.”
Added Travis, “It was tough to leave (Nebraska), but when the opportunity arose to come back to Iowa State and work out in the toughest room in the country, I had to take it.”
Trent will compete for the world championship at 145.5 pounds in Herning, Denmark next month. Iowa State wrestler Jake Varner is the U.S. entry at 211.5 pounds.
“I’m getting a lot of great experience, a lot of different perspectives, a lot of different coaching,” Trent said. “I’m just trying to be a sponge right now and bring back as much as I can.”
The Paulsons’ return is part of Jackson’s plan to set up a regional training center at Iowa State for world-class wrestlers. That should help recruiting, he said, because top-notch high school prospects would see they’d have a chance to work out with some of the best wrestlers in the country.
“We are in pursuit of other world-class wrestlers,” said Jackson, who got the Iowa State job May 1 after Cael Sanderson left to become the coach at Penn State.
The Cyclone Wrestling Club will pay the Paulsons’ living expenses so they can train full-time. Their other option had been to move to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
“The Cyclone Club’s been unbelievable, very supportive,” Trent said. “Even when we were at Nebraska, they’d drop us e-mails asking how we’re doing, saying once a Cyclone, always a Cyclone. They just always cared.
“They went above and beyond to get us back. We’re excited to be back in Cyclone country.”
The Paulsons share a house they bought in Ames a year ago and had been renting out. But they confine their wrestling to the Iowa State mats. No moving the furniture aside so they can tussle on the living room floor.
Laughing, Travis said, “We’re in the wrestling room so much, we really don’t have any energy when we get home.”