Pre-Championships Press Conference Quotes

March 4, 2005

IOWA CITY, IA – University of Illinois Head Coach Mark Johnson, University of Michigan Head Coach Joe McFarland and University of Iowa Head Coach Jim Zalesky attended a pre-Big Ten Wrestling Championships press conference Friday afternoon. Here are their commments:

Comments From Illinois Head Coach Mark Johnson
“We’ve had a good season so far. Our kids have been pretty steady all year. This is the healthiest we’ve been all year.”

“I spent eight years here in Iowa City as an assistant wrestling coach and it’s a different feeling to come back. We look forward to wrestling at Iowa. Wrestling is important here and it’s a big show in Iowa City. This is the way a conference tournament should be.”

“I really think four teams will battle it out this weekend. I really feel like we have a chance to win the tournament. We need a total team performance. This is a hard conference to win. Two teams have won it the past 30 years. This is the second most important goal for us, next to the NCAA tournament.”

“Winning the Big Ten Championships is a necessary step for our program. I think winning the championships will help our kids believe they can be successful at the NCAA tournament.”

Comments From Michigan Head Coach Joe McFarland
“The Big Ten Championships is a big focal point for us. There have been a few times where we have faltered down the stretch and we have talked about that. We have been consistent down the stretch this season and that helps when preparing for Big Ten’s and the NCAA tournament.”

“This is the healthiest we have been all year, which is a positive. If you look at it on paper, Illinois is the favorite, but this is an extremely tough tournament to win. This is one of the most competitive tournaments we have been in.”

“You need guys to really step up. We have four number-one seeds and we need those guys to wrestle up to their seeds. If you are going to win this tournament, you need guys to step up and wrestle well.”

Comments From Iowa Head Coach Jim Zalesky
“It’s great to wrestle in front of our home crowd. For us to be successful, we need to win some of the close matches that we didn’t win during the dual meet season. This is the time we need to turn those around, close doesn’t count anymore. We’ve had a good week of practice and we are excited to wrestle in this tournament.”

“It’s important to have 10 guys scoring points. If we can accomplish that, I think we have a great chance to win this tournament.”

“Records don’t matter anymore. It doesn’t matter if you are undefeated or haven’t won a match. This is what counts now. The Big Ten’s are a qualifier and you want to do as well you can.”

“Our guys are ready to wrestle. We have a lot of guys with big tournament experience and that will always help you. You can’t worry about seeds. All you have to worry about is the guy on that mat with you. It would be nice to have some number one seeds, but we aren’t worrying about that anymore. We are focused on wrestling one match at a time.”