By CHRIS BREWER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — First they were teammates. Then roommates. And soon, they’ll be University of Iowa graduates.
The Hawkeye wrestling team has three seniors on this year’s roster — Phillip Laux (PL), Logan McQuillen (LM), and Brandon Sorensen (BS).
They workout in the same room. They share the same house. And on Sunday, Feb. 4, they’ll be recognized in front of the home crowd after Iowa hosts Northwestern inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
But first, they sat down with the Hawkeyes’ Laura Vandeberg (LV) to talk about the last four-plus years on campus. Starting with a story from McQuillen.
LM: Someone asked why Brandon and I never wrestle in practice, and I want to say that we did our true freshman year. And then, halfway through the year, Brandon told me Tom said he wasn’t supposed to wrestle me anymore because I was too big for him, even though I was only one weight class above him.
LV: So he was scared. Anything to add to that Brandon?
BS: I knew we were going to be roommates and I did not want to hurt his feelings. We were going to be living together, so that’s where I’m coming from. I was trying to by nice.
LV: What about you Phillip, anything to add? Did you stay out of it?
PL: Sometimes I’ll moderate their conversations and sometimes I’ll sit back and watch.
LV: Who is the mom and dad of the house?
BS: I would say I’m definitely the mom and dad of the house.
PL: I was going to say that.
LM: He is definitely the mom.
PL: We’re all kind of there to pick each other up when we’re not feeling well.
BS: (sarcasm) Like cooking chicken noodle soup.
PL: Well, not quite like that.
LV: I’m picking up that Logan and Brandon are the catty ones and Phil may keep them on the down low.
PL: It’s pretty common for me to come home and they’ll be in a heated argument — not a yelling aspect — but more ‘I’m right and you’re wrong,’ and it will just keep going until someone stops talking.
LV: Who is the cleanest?
PL: If we’re going on consistency, Brandon. But we’re all clean at varying times.
LV: And the messiest?
LM: Yeah, it’s definitely me.
LV: You’re not wrestling, you’re not at practice, what do you do in your free time?
BS: We cruise around quite a bit on our bikes. Fishing. We’ll hit some ponds.
PL: During the winter you can walk into the house and we might be reading books with the fireplace on by the TV.
LV: That’s romantic. Let me ask how the wrestling program shaped you guys.
BS: Physically and mentally I’ve seen huge strides. It’s a different ballgame than high school wrestling, and it has shaped me as a person. It has made me better and stronger.
PL: It’s made me become a better and well-rounded person, preparing for life after college. We’re obviously in here getting physically better and working on the mental side, but the coaching staff shows you how to become men and treat your family, how to go about life. Our trainer, Jesse Donnenwerth, teaches you proper eating habits. Our eating habits are good, but if you fine-tune them and that helps you throughout life — better longevity. It’s about becoming a better man and holding ourselves accountable.
LM: Leaving high school, living under your parents’ roof, you get to branch away and you learn life skills, but it’s not like you’re alone. The three of us are roommates and we’re going through it all together. I’ve got Brandon cooking meals for me, so it’s not like losing all ties to everyone and you’re on your own. We’re still a group. We’re working together, whether we’re at home making dinner or we’re in here sharpening our skills.
LV: Brandon you have a way of putting it all on the mat, where 100 percent of yourself goes into every match you’re in, and then you’re able to step up when you get to that third period and bring out even more, how do you do that?
BS: That’s a credit to our program and our coaches. There is not another program that has the conditioning that Iowa does. I take pride in that, our coaches take pride in that, but the thing is right now we have to step it up in the first period. That’s a big talking point right now. There was a statistic pulled out the other day that if you score first, 92 percent of the time you’re going to win that match. So we need to be ready off the whistle and stay consistent, breaking opponents all the way to the third period.
LV: Is there anything that Tom and Terry have taught you guys that will stick with you when you have finished your career here?
BS: There are a lot of things I’ll take with me. Growing up, being an adult, being independent, and moving forward in every aspect of life, whether it’s sports or work or whatever it is.
PL: The biggest thing that I’ve taken away and talked about a lot in job interviews is the three-legged stool. You have your academics, your athletics, and your social life. You have to have it all in balance or your stool will fall over. Tom and Terry are always harping on that. You have to have balance or it will affect the other aspects of your life.
LV: Logan, you mentioned you want to be a veterinarian, has that always been the plan?
LM: When I first came here I was pre-physical therapy. That was too boring for me, so I switched to pre-med, but I didn’t want to be inside all of the time, so I stuck to the vet thing. I grew up on a farm, so it kind of made sense.
LV: What is something you guys learned about Tom and Terry that most people don’t know?
PL: Everybody sees one version of Tom and Terry at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but what I would say to everybody is that Tom and Terry care. If you think they don’t care, then you don’t know them. They care about you, the care about your wrestling, they want to know about your social life and family. They genuinely care from their heart.
BS: That’s good. I was going to say they’re the type of guys that give you the shirt off their back.
LM: I’ll go home and people will ask me if that’s an act when they’re out there jumping around on the mat during the meet. But the answer is no. They’re just that fired up about everything. They’re pure competitors.
LV: All the heart in the world, not just for the sport, but for their athletes. I think that’s fair. Lastly, what is the one thing you’re going to miss most about your experience at Iowa?
PL: The whole athletic experience in general. My teammates. I love these guys. I couldn’t ask for better roommates. We may have different personalities, but we get along great. And athletics in general. I have a lot of friends from other sports and it’s fun to hang out and get perspective and cheer them on in their endeavors, whatever they’re pursuing.
LM: I’m going to miss the wrestling, the athletics, and everything, because next year will be the first time I can’t necessarily call myself an ‘athlete.’ It was a big part of my life I had growing up that isn’t going to be around anymore.
BS: The teammates. Even the guys that have come and gone throughout our career. And I’ll miss my roommates. I’ll probably have to find my own house or something.
LV: We know Logan is pursuing vet school, what are your plans for after college?
BS: I don’t know yet. I’m still debating what I’ll eat for supper tonight. I’ve got options out there, but right now my sole focus is to win a national title. That’s the goal right now and that’s where I’m putting all my energy.
PL: I’ve applied for different jobs, but I’m not focused on it until after March 17. I know I’m passionate about sports and agriculture food sustainability, so I would like to get into one of those two realms. Maybe graduate school down the line, but I’m going to work for a couple years and get a taste of that.
BS: I probably will not be taking graduate school.
LV: So we know that about you.
PL: He still does well in school. We have a good household GPA.
LV: All those nights sitting by the TV fire are paying off.