Two of the most important contributors to whatever success I had in wrestling were my HS Coach-Gary Kreizenbeck @ Sacramento H.S. and Dave Schultz -Primary citizen of the wrestling universe. I went to a large inner-city, urban high school in Sacramento, CA. I had never really heard of wrestling until my middle-school baseball coach suggested that I go out for the wrestling to get in better shape for next season (for those who are innocent and unaware, getting in shape for next season is actually evil middle-school coach's secret code for carving off some of that lard, fatty:o: ).
Well, after one season, I fell in love with the sport and never looked back. Since most of our guys were 1st year wrestlers, and most of our tournaments were 0-2 and bar-b-que, Coach K worried that we were getting knocked out so fast that we never had a chance to watch really good wrestlers compete, so he made a rule that we had to stay at the tourny until he said we could leave, which usually wasn't until after our weightclass finals. This was great as we got to see a lot of guys whom we would never get to observe unless we were wrestling against them. Even then it was hard to really observe someone who was headlocking you into oblivion, or blast doubling you across 2 mats! I was lucky enough to be able to watch Dave Schultz on occasion and it was truely a learning session, each and every match. Seeing how he made up for a seeming lack of strength by applying excruciating leverage to one particular joint, and never letting up on that joint until the guy either turned over or the body part turned purple and fell off! Just watching Dave taught me that one of the major aspects of the sport is to impose your will, not just on your opponent, but on the body part of your opponent that you wished to claim as your own. Even if you weren't the strongest guy in the world, you could pretty much overpower any body part of your opponent with focus, determination and a clear idea of where and why you want that part to go in a certain direction. This was a true revealation to me and introduced the concept of FOCUS into my wrestling ideology, something I never forgot.
I was most impressed watching Dave at the HS state championship. That year it happened to be held in Sacramento, and coach got us in the tourney in exchange for being gofers-mopping mats, bringing coffee to the officials, etc. Dave had wrestled in Tblisi that year and missed the qualifiers for state. A committee of coaches decided that it wasn't fair for Dave to miss out on his senior year state championship, so they agreed to let him in where ever there was a hole, forfeit or bye at his weight or above. Well, the first open weight class was 167, just two weight classes over his usual weight class of 145. It goes without saying that Dave mowed through the field, with his closest match a 17-0 win over Rich Sykes :o , another hero of mine who was built like a smaller Brock Lesner. Rich went on to be a 2xAA. I learned here that when it comes to a battle between technique and muscle, technique usually wins!
Fast forward 7 years or so, and I had been so very fortunate to have been able to watch Dave several dozen times over the years and even practice with him once or twice. I was a better wrestler by now, having won a Jr. World medal, made a world university team as well as US teams to Cuba, Romania and Germany. My folkstyle was getting a little stronger too, as I placed at the Midlands and had taken 2nd at the D2 nationals, with a generous portion of what I knew and used coming from those observations of and the rare but valuable private coaching sessions (in exchange for being the willing acceptee of Dave's artful meyhem).
There was one story that I have shared here before, but will again at the risk of being redundant.
This story took place during my senior year, while I was wrestling as a heavyweight at San Francisco State. We had a home dual meet against Stanford University, where Dave was the assistant coach. As I mentioned earlier, I was a D2 runner-up at heavyweight and ranked in the top 4 or 5 at heavyweight in AWN. I was also 2nd on the Olympic Greco ladder for the upcoming Olympic Trials that coming spring/summer. Dave had been doing ok himself, having just won his first world championship and had placed 3rd at 180.5 the previous year. I was not aware that prior to the match, Coach Chris Horpel of Stanford and Dave had gotten together with my coach and informed him that they had no heavyweight and would have to forfeit our match. Dave came up with the idea of he and I having a freestyle exhibition match that they could bill as "Battle of future Olympians" or some such. My coach agreed with the idea, but, thinking that he had a sense of humor, told Dave and Chris not to mention anything to me about it until we went out to shake hands! Coach then came over to me and said that Stanford had this great new transfer from Oregon, but he had to weigh in earlier in the afternoon because of a big final that he had to take. He was driving up with one of the assistant coaches and would definantly be there by match time, so I should stay warm and get ready for a war! Well, that got me juiced up and I went around the gym, stretching and shooting and hitting fake throws and such. I noticed Schultz in sweats, riding a stationary bike on his teams side, but I thought "thats just Schultz. He's always warming up in sweats and wrestling shoes!"By the time the 165 lber went out, there was still no Stanford beast, so I ambled back over to Coach and asked what the story was. He said they had just called in from a gas station and were about 20 min. away, so make sure I was warm he said, giving me a stern look. Finally the 190lbers were out shaking hands. I noticed that Dave had removed his sweats and was just stretching on the floor with one of his Stanford boys. I kept looking around the room, but didn't see anybody who looked like a heavyweight. The 190 match ended quickly with a fall, I stripped down, thinking that I had figured it out...I was getting a forfeit!
Ha! I walked out onto the mat and here comes Dave at the same time. Odd. The PA guy was also announcing our international and national records too, which was real odd for a dual meet! What the heck? I looked back and my coach and teammates were laughing their heads off, as was the Stanford coaches and our AD. I smiled at Dave, and with only a bit of cracking in my voice said "Hey man, you wouldn't be the transfer from Oregon would you?" Dave just smiled some more and said "Lets have some fun Morris. Show these guys what freestyle is all about" :shock: . We shook hands and, as with most matches, the fear was quickly replaced by adrenalin. Dave took a quick outside single. I thought "Bad move man". I clamped down on a hard wizzer and prepared to hit him with my famous double over, hip toss. Somehow though, instead of my heel and calf catching his knee and thigh, sending him flying over my hip, Dave took a little step backwards and around to his right. The next thing I recall was my head, back and shoulders all hitting the mat at approximately the same time, with pretty remarkable force! After the ringing in my ears started to dissipate, to be replaced by the "oooohhhhs" and "aaahhhhhs" punctuated with the occasional "Oh my God!" or girlish scream. I checked my mouth to make sure that the girlish scream wasn't coming from my mouth, but it was pretty much locked shut from shock and awe! Dave hopped on top right away and I braced myself in my best gut wrench defense! I guess it was so good that Dave didn't want to even try and turn me with it, so he reached back and grabbed my left foot with his right hand. He cranked it up and over my shoulder with so much force, I really didn't feel much pain....until he crossfaced me with his left arm and drove my face from the mat to my right shoulder. I managed to open one eye and looked to my right side (Mr. Schultz didn't want me to look at my left side, and I thought it best to cooperate with his wishes from that point on. I noticed Dave's wrestling shoes and I recall thinking "Oh wow, Dave and I wear the same kind of wrestling shoes! It took a few minutes before I realized that I was looking at my own foot, planted nicely right next to my face! Well, at least I knew were to look for it after the match! Luckily for me, our AD was officiating this match as it was an exhibition. We went a few more minutes, with my AD stopping the match several times for potentially dangerous (I was wondering why he didn't do this right after the handshake!
Time [FINALLY] ran out. I stayed until Daves hand was raised and started walking off the mat, looking for the nearest ice machine to crawl into!It was my 1st and only collegiate loss at my home gym, and I was too sore to even whisper the word "bummer!", much less say it out loud in front of Dave. Before I could step off the mat however, I felt this hairy, sinewy arm wrap itself around my neck and shoulders and who else but Dave Schultz was escorting me off the mat. And just like the Dave Schultz we all know and LOVE, he sat down next to me and told me I did a good job out there, and that I just need work on defending the single leg, and a better way to keep my balance on my once famous hip toss, and how he expected me to dominate at D2 nationals (I did) and the Olympic trials (took 3rd) so that he can say he had a close one against a CHAMPION, not some scrub that just fell off the onion truck! That was Dave. Who else could beat you like a rented mule and leave you feeling like you were just a move or two away? Who else could pound your head on the mat and reframe it into a small mistake that you make on your way to a potent offense? No one but Dave Schultz. We miss you man. Miss you and love you and for many many many of us, you are still just a heartbeat away.