By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published March 14, 2013
Blessed Trinity High School wrestler Evan Strawn recently made history when he became the school’s first wrestler to win a state championship during the 2013 tournament held at the Macon Coliseum, Feb. 14-16.
After finishing the season at 57-1, Strawn holds the school records for the most wins in a season and most career wins (168). In doing so, he helped boost the Blessed Trinity team to 30 wins and nine losses. It’s only the second time in the school’s history the wrestling team has had 30 or more wins.
“Evan Strawn is one of those rare athletes who come along during a coach’s career, embodying every quality that a coach prays and wishes for in his athletes,” said Blessed Trinity head wrestling coach Richard Barden. “I knew from the first time I met Evan as an eighth-grade student from Holy Redeemer School on the BT Junior Titan wrestling team that he was going to grow into the wrestler he is today and be a good wrestler for us in the future.”
The state champion wrestler recently went to the mat with The Georgia Bulletin.
GB: It’s been a few weeks since the championship match. How has your historical feat impacted you as a student-athlete around campus?
Strawn: Once I returned to school everything was noticeably different. Students looked at me with a special kind of respect and I was getting congratulated constantly in the hallways. I am honored that I am looked up to, but that also means that I have to continue my dedication in all that I do so that I do not let anyone down.
GB: If you’re wrestling someone for the first time, whether it’s in the regular season or a tournament, how do you prepare for the match? In sports like football and basketball one can watch and study film on opponents. Do you do something similar in wrestling?
Strawn: In wrestling one can study their opponent and break down each aspect. One can watch how their opponent is aggressive and defensive from neutral (the position where both wrestlers are standing and neither is in control of the other wrestler), how they move from bottom and attempt to escape, and where they place their pressure when they are on top. In my situation, I have to give recognition to our team’s assistant coach, Mark DiLuzio, for taking the time to do the scouting when I was unable to. Without him I would have gone into my state matches with no idea of my opponents’ strengths or weaknesses.
GB: If your opponents are scouting you, what are they likely to learn about you and what can they expect from you on the mat?
Strawn: One thing that my opponent will see when scouting me is that I am constantly moving, giving it everything I have, and never taking a break. They would also notice that I am very aggressive in the moves that I attempt to set up.
GB: Did you ever envision yourself as the first wrestler at Blessed Trinity to win a state title and was it ever a goal or something you’ve pursued since wrestling at the varsity level?
Strawn: I never thought that I would be the first wrestling state champion at Blessed Trinity, but it was definitely my goal to win the state title. In the beginning of my wrestling career, I remember watching state champions practice under the legendary U.S. Olympic wrestler and coach, Lee Kemp, and being amazed at how hard they work and how much I would love to be the one that people look to as a model for their success.
GB: In a sport like wrestling how do you strike a balance between focusing on individual goals and maintaining sight of the fact that wrestling is a team sport as well?
Strawn: Wrestling is 100 percent a team sport. Without your team, who would you practice with? How would you get better? As wrestlers, we develop a bond that’s more than a friendship. It’s a brotherhood. Even during my state finals match, I was wrestling for my teammates. I wanted to win, not for myself, but for my teammates and our program, so that they can see that it is possible for a Blessed Trinity wrestler to win state.
GB: When did you first start wrestling and what was your initial weight class?
Strawn: I started wrestling in the sixth grade, in the 85 lb. weight class, with the Chattahoochee Junior Cougar Wrestling Program.
GB: What piqued your interest in wrestling? Did you have any older siblings who wrestled?
Strawn: Although I do not have any family history of wrestling, I believe that my older brother, Will, prepared me for the brutality of the sport by constantly fighting/wrestling with me. I was formally introduced into the sport of wrestling through my friend, Josh McMahon, with whom I played football. Josh’s dad, Chuck McMahon, coached Chattahoochee Junior Cougar Wrestling and they were the ones who pushed me into the sport that I have come to love. I also need to recognize my dad as the one who constantly supported and encouraged me over the years to pursue my wrestling goals. He was always in my corner, so to speak.
GB: Do you recall whether you won or lost your very first wrestling match and how did the outcome make you feel?
Strawn: My first wrestling match was quite the experience. I was so used to being one of the most athletic out on the field, that when it came to wrestling I thought I would have the same outcome. I was wrong. I got destroyed. I came off the mat more exhausted than I had ever been, and the match only lasted for about 30 seconds. I was devastated, but that night it inspired me to go to practice the next day and work hard so that one day I would win a wrestling match.
GB: Since high school wrestling falls under a freestyle form, which allows both upper and lower body techniques, where do you like to strike first or does it depend on your opponent?
Strawn: In most situations, I am the aggressor and will take a shot on my opponent’s leg, either grabbing a single leg or both legs. I like to be the one who is setting the pace, causing my opponents to have to react to my moves rather than vice versa.
GB: What type of regimen do you go through in the offseason to prepare for the wrestling season? What gets you in the best shape?
Strawn: In the off-season I lift weights, do cardio, and go to wrestling practices. Occasionally I trained at The Wrestling Center, Smyrna, under Arturo Holmes. In the mornings I participated in a weight-lifting program at Blessed Trinity. Throughout the year, I would also count my calories, as well as calculate my carb, protein, and fat ratio so that I would stay at peak physical condition.
GB: Do you plan to wrestle at the collegiate level, and if so, where?
Strawn: I do not plan to wrestle at the collegiate level due to my dedication to schoolwork and my goal of becoming an industrial engineer. In college I might wrestle in a club league and if I feel I have enough time I may attempt to walk on to the wrestling team.
GB: Nicknames have always been a part of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Now that you’re a state champion wrestler, have you been given a nickname? If not, give us the best nickname that fits you and your style.
Strawn: Evan “The Patriot” Strawn, because everything I have been blessed with is because of this one nation under God.