Nebraska wrestling duals, 12/3

Nebraska's Colton McCrystal (top) wrestles Michigan State's Javier Gasca in the 141 pound match on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, at the NU Coliseum.

FRANCIS GARDLER, JOURNAL STAR

Another 8 pounds doesn’t seem like all that much to the average person, but to Nebraska wrestler Colton McCrystal, it means the world.

McCrystal is coming off a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships in the 141-pound weight class, and is gunning for a higher finish this year. This time at 149 pounds.

“It’s a different sport when you don’t have to cut the weight,” McCrystal said.

It all started this summer in training.

When McCrystal was weighing a little lower than he usually does in the offseason, he started to spar with Tyler Berger more.

Berger is a returning All-American, and he took fifth at nationals last year. He is a stiff competitor, to say the least.

These summer battles and competition made McCrystal comfortable with wrestling around 150 pounds, so head coach Mark Manning is keeping him right there.

“He’s not a good weight cutter, and last year he lost some matches that he shouldn’t have,” Manning said, “We just thought that being at 149 would help him personally and, you know, as a wrestler being the best.”

This showed off in the first meet of the year. McCrystal won all four of his matches at the Daktronics Open, three of them coming against Minnesota wrestlers.

The bump up in weight classes has had lasting impacts on the mat, but there have been other affects for McCrystal. One's not on the mat.

“I’ve noticed changes in myself,” he said, “I love getting to practice early, and rolling around or playing spike ball. I goof off a little more and have just a little more energy.”

Another change, which every wrestler appreciates, is food.

McCrystal was the first to point out that wrestling is not like other sports.

“Football travels the country and plays all these Big Ten schools, gets to eat every meal and then go have their best performance. That is pretty much every other sport, too, except for wrestling,” McCrystal said.

This year, the senior said road trips will be a lot more enjoyable since he will not have to be so worried about making weight.

Instead, he will be able to focus on his main goal.

“For some people, they think a national title may be a little out of reach, but that is always the goal,” he said. “I want to win a national title.”

Chasing that goal will be a little easier this time around, especially since he’ll be able to eat after practices.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or rmiller2@journalstar.com.

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