Dec. 23, 2013
- by Amanda Nusbaum, Mizzou Staff Writer
Being the best at the end of each year is the short-term goal for most student-athletes. Along the way, they strive to help their teams succeed and push their teammates to do their own best. While they may have dreams of someday pursuing their sport professionally, most exhibit determination and discipline that allows them to focus on the present and help them reach their current goals. Wrestling requires a special kind of discipline that hones in on the amount of willpower one must have in order to train, make weight, and ultimately win each match. When your arm is raised at the end of a match as a sign of victory, you hear the roars of the crowd carrying you and your team all the way to victory. It's those moments that we live for.
Mikey England has been wrestling for 18 years. Starting at the age of four after hanging around Mat Club watching his older brother wrestle, England recalled how difficult it was at first.
"I didn't win much when I was little. Actually, I lost my entire first year. As I got older, I started to win more and more each year until junior high and high school when I really caught up success-wise. It became a lot more fun after that, although my practice habits changed as I got into the more difficult competition."
England's high school career was noteworthy, with four state placements within the Iowa 2A division and a career record of 174-26. Choosing to stay in his home-state for college, England took to the mat as an Iowa State Cyclone for his first three years of college. After two seasons of wrestling with the Cyclones, he made the life-changing decision to transfer schools.
Feeling like he could do more with his talent, England went looking for a program that would allow him to have a chance to compete at the end of the year "when it really matters [in NCAAs]." One factor that highlighted Mizzou in his search was the fact that they graduated quite a few wrestlers in the 174/184 pound weight classes. England also noted that the program has been on the rise for years as a collegiate powerhouse.
"They really showed up and had some upsets at Nationals last year. I knew they had an awesome staff, I just needed to make sure the coaches were right for me."
The closeness to home was also a factor in his ultimate decision to transfer to a school almost 300 miles south of where he started his college career.
"I'm partially doing this for my family," England noted, "because they all rally behind me and stay with me through everything. They get really excited and will come watch me wrestle anywhere. Aunts, uncles, brothers, cousins...it's so great to have them support me like they do."
At Mizzou's home-opener versus the Ohio Bobcats, his family's voices were heard well above the rest of the crowd. When England walked into the lobby of Jesse Auditorium post-dual, he was greeted by a slow clap, hugs, and finally a dog pile initiated by his brothers.
Since transferring to Mizzou with a 32-20 career record, England has tacked on another eight wins to just three losses.
"Last year I worried a lot about the results, so this year I came in with a different approach. I was just going to work as hard as I could and stop worrying about the things I couldn't control."
Now, like many Mizzou student-athletes, he spends what is seemingly 90 percent of his time wrestling, training, or thinking about wrestling and training.
"I was more prepared than the other incoming wrestlers because I had already done the college bit. To me, transferring was a big life change because I moved farther away from home than before - far away from my friends - and I did so all for the sake of wrestling."
Wrestling is more than just a sport. It can affect and inspire even the most unknowledgeable spectators. The Tiger Style philosophy insures that each student-athlete holds himself to the highest esteem and to believe wholeheartedly in himself and in his team. Mikey England has proven that Tiger Style Wrestling is something he is fully prepared to dive in and live out during his remaining time at the University.
"When I think about the end of the year, I picture myself celebrating [with my family]. That's a huge motivator for me."