By Andrew Hipps
St. Cloud State wrestler Austin Goergen is one of the nation’s top heavyweights in Division II as a redshirt freshman. A native of Caledonia, Goergen won two state championships and reached the state finals three times as a high school wrestler. Last season Goergen redshirted. Goergen is currently ranked #3 in the nation in last week’s NCAA Division II polls at 285-pounds. He owns a 32-5 record this season and has 17 pins – one short of the current SCSU season record of 18 pins. InterMat recently caught up with Goergen.
You have won 27 of 31 matches this season and have not lost to a Division II wrestler. Did you envision that you would have this kind of success as a freshman?
Goergen: To tell you the truth, no, not really. At the beginning of the season we have goal sheets. Every time I do them I set my goals really high. I just want to keep going and going and going until I achieve those goals.
You lead your team in pins with 14. How important is pinning to you?
Goergen: It’s awesome. I just want to go out there and dominate my opponent and get six points for the team. I love just getting out there, getting it done, and getting off the mat. Getting pins is really important to me.
You are ranked No. 2 at heavyweight in the latest NCAA Division II college wrestling rankings. Do you pay much attention to rankings?
Goergen: No, I don’t. My dad has a quote that I use all the time. He says, “Anybody can be beaten on any given day.” I just go by that quote every time I step out on the mat.
The No. 1-ranked heavyweight in Division II is Ziad Haddad of Kutztown, who finished fourth in the nation last season. He split matches at the NCAAs last season with your former teammate Jake Kahnke. Have you watched much film on Haddad?
Goergen: No. I was actually going to have a chance to wrestle him at the National Duals, but I guess either he didn’t want to wrestle or it was a coaching decision. They sent out their backup and I won by tech. fall. I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to wrestle him.
What did your redshirt season do for you in terms of development?
Goergen: I think it really developed me as a college athlete because hopping right from high school to college, it’s a whole different thing. My goal last year was to get 30-some matches as a redshirt. I think that’s a great thing to do … and it helped me out a lot.
As a team you’re currently ranked third behind Notre Dame College and the University of Nebraska-Kearney. What does the team need to do to get to where you want to be?
Goergen: I’m not worried one bit about our team. I have faith in all of our guys. I think just one thing that is going to get us to the top is going out there and setting the pace. No one trains as hard as we do. No one can match our tempo on the mat. It just comes down to how bad every kid wants it. If you’re losing, how bad do you want to dig down deep and come back and win a match? Or how bad do you want to expand your lead if you’re winning? Heart is a big thing in wrestling.
Your coach Steve Costanzo has been a proven winner in the college wrestling ranks. He won a national championship as a coach at the NAIA level, and has helped make St. Cloud State one of the top Division II wrestling programs. What’s his coaching style like?
Goergen: Steve is a great guy. I just want to give a big thanks out to him. He does everything right. He pushes us when we need to be pushed. Our motto here is, “Be a life champion.” Steve is just great. He supports every kid on the team. I have full faith in whatever he says.
You won two state championships before losing in the state finals as a senior. What did that loss in the state finals as a senior do to you?
Goergen: That loss just made me want to wrestle in college more. I was never content. After I got beat I always wanted more. I never want to end a season on a loss. I knew if I got a chance to wrestle in college that I was going to set my goals high to see what I could accomplish.
You said in high school even after you committed to St. Cloud State that you were still hoping to wrestle at the University of Minnesota. Has that changed in the two years since you arrived at St. Cloud State?
Goergen: Yes, it has. I’m very happy where I’m at here at St. Cloud State. I just want to say thanks to my assistant coach Brady Wilson. I don’t think there’s anyone in the country that has a better practice partner than I do here. He pushes me day in and day out. With the University of Minnesota, they have Nelson and Kroells there. So if I was there I would have to compete for a spot. Right now I’m having a strong season and hoping to do more. I just have my goals set here and hopefully I can achieve them.
So you don’t anticipate looking at any other Division I schools?
Goergen: Probably not. I guess it all depends on how I do.
What’s it going to take for you to finish on top of the podium in March?
Goergen: For me to finish on top I just have to keep doing what I’m doing. I have to keep working out with Brady Wilson every day. I have to get myself to a whole new level. I know I’m not there, so I have to keep training harder and harder each day I walk into that room, and hopefully in the end everything will work out and I’ll come out on top.
What are your long-term goals for wrestling? Where do you want to go with this sport?
Goergen: I want to be a coach, and maybe even coach at the college level. I told my dad when I was 13 that I wanted to make it to the Olympics, so that’s going to be one of my goals that I’m going to try to achieve.
This story was reprinted with permission from InterMat. Andrew Hipps can be reached at [email protected]