Feb. 5, 2013
- by Ben Schwenker, Media Relations Student Intern
Training on the mats and behind the doors of the weight room has always been a main staple for Mizzou's Wrestling program. For many competitors, it's grown rampant, as they've set their eyes for the 2013 Mid-American Conference Championships.
There's less than fifty days left for the Mizzou wrestling season, and other than the realigned conference, nothing seems to have changed for the fifth-ranked Tigers. Though the Southeastern Conference doesn't sponsor wrestling, Mizzou wrestlers remain constant with their dieting, mental toughness and work ethics.
And if there's one thing that's remained constant for Mizzou senior wrestler Nicholas Hucke, it's his discipline.
"It's a pretty big factor in wrestling. You've got to be consistent with keeping your weight down and you've got to take care of your body."
Born June 9, 1989, Nick Hucke's interest in wrestling sparked throughout his novice years on the mat at Hartland Arrowhead High School. After three state championships and setting school records, the wrestler closed out his high school career with perfect upperclass seasons.
As a fifth year senior, Hucke came into Mizzou's program with high hopes from Pewaukee, Wisconsin. And, like wrestling, the bout has been a rewarding exchange.
"For the first few years, I was backup to an All-American. But I just kept working at it and eventually I earned my spot...It's a tough sport, so you have to keep working and working, and you'll improve."
It's not just his physical ability that has improved. The course of five years has taken a toll on his mental toughness, and, it's been exponentially rewarding. He's become very disciplined not only as a collegiate wrestler, but also as a person. This year Hucke has been able to pass along that mental toughness to other freshmen within the program, and it's developed him into a leader.
"I try to be a leader," he said. "I challenge our younger guys telling them to keep pushing themselves, and keep training and dieting," Hucke said. "You're going to get down in this sport. You've got to stay positive all the time. And good things will happen. It's simple. The optimism plays a substantial role, but maintaining it is the true challenge."
Mental toughness is key as a match approaches. Just like many sports, the athlete needs confidence, positivity, and commitment before throwing on that singlet.
"You have to think about everything you've done in practice and you've got to just commit," said the Tiger senior.
For Hucke, the only motivation after that are his fast-tempo swells of rap music matching his adrenalized heart rate.
Through all of the practices, workouts, camps, traveling, dieting, whatever it may be...the wrestling team has become a family. They are a tight-knit group of student-athletes that spend more time on the fourth floor of the Hearnes Center than they do in their own rooms. It might just be what makes the sport of wrestling so rewarding.
"We're with each other twenty-four-seven. We are really all we have to bond with and to keep accountable on and off the mats."
Over the course of his career, Hucke said the most rewarding benefit of a wrestler has been the preparation for the real world. It's been tough to train for bouts against other opponents while maintaining his schoolwork, yet he was still named to the Second Team All Academic Big 12 team last year before Mizzou bolted to the Mid-American Conference.
"It's shown me that you have to work hard at what you want to do in life, and that way you're able to improve constantly."
And it's especially easier for him when it's a game that he loves, and enjoys getting better at.
After college, Nick Hucke said he plans to pair up with Mizzou Hall of Famer Ben Askren and assist him with the Askren Wrestling Academy. Through his dedicated diet plan and camaraderie with his team, it's a mental edge he wants to pass on to others. Like Mizzou wrestling, the Askren Wrestling Academy provides a lot of opportunity, and Hucke believes they will continue to do great things.
After the brief moments with the Mizzou wrester, Hucke was reluctant to answer any more questions as he headed back to practice, once again proving his dedication for improving at a sport he loves.