While preparing for his weekend matches against Penn, Princeton, and Rider, senior wrestler Mike Mormile snapped Sun Senior Writer Per Ostman over his knee like a twig.
1. I have few rules in life, but one of them is, “Never get into a fight with a wrestler.” I’ve got about 12 inches and 90 pounds on you – could you kick my ass?
Don’t test me.
That’s what I thought. I wouldn’t dream of it. Because you know what you’re doing. I’d probably just run at you and start throwing wild haymakers.
Yeah, you’d throw a punch and I’d duck underneath. Then I’d pick you up and throw you to the ground.
And then I’d scream like a girl.
Yeah, that would be the end of it.
Have you ever been in a fight?
Yeah, but I probably don’t want to say so.
Of course you do. Let’s have it.
I might have been in one or two scuffles, but that’s about it. I’m a lover, not a fighter.
Do you look at wrestling as a martial skill?
Yeah, definitely. In the real world, if something were to happen, I think I’d know how to defend myself.
So, you feel confident that you could handle your business if it came to that?
Yeah, but if a guy is 6-0 and 200 pounds, I mean, he’s going to beat me up.
I’m 6-1, 215! You said you could kick my ass!
I know, I know. But you’d have a puncher’s chance. Land one and I’m done. I don’t know how to take a punch.
If we put you up against a boxer, who wins?
At the same weight?
Yeah, we’re not talking about Lennox Lewis here.
I think I’d win. If I could avoid his punches. He’d beat me on his feet, because that’s his forte; it’s where he’s most skilled. But if I got close enough to him to get my hands on him, I think I could take him.
OK, we’re going to have to set this up. It’ll be a charity bout, with all proceeds going to the Per Ostman Foundation For Unemployed Writers.
You should do this with Travis Lee. I’d pay to see that!
I’m pretty sure Travis Lee could kill just about anyone we put in there.
He’s my roommate, so I could set it up.
There we go. Tell him to take a dive in the fourth round, and we’ll split the winnings.
2. You moved up in weight-class this season (from 125 to 133). Is this a more natural weight for you?
Yeah, I was cutting a lot of weight to stay at 125. At 133, I’m still cutting weight, but it’s not nearly as much. I feel a lot healthier.
That’s always the issue with wrestling, lightweight rowing, or boxing – sports where weight is such an important factor. An athlete’s health may suffer.
Yeah, it’s just part of the sport, unfortunately.
There have been deaths linked to wrestling weight loss – running around in garbage bags, spending too much time in saunas, etc. Have you had any dangerous experiences with losing weight?
Actually, I have. My freshman year, we went out to Senior Nationals, a freestyle tournament in Las Vegas. I was cutting weight down to 121, and my body – I don’t know if I overheated or what – my whole body cramped up. I was twitching and I couldn’t move. It was pretty scary.
How much weight are you able to lose in a day?
For that tournament, I probably lost eight pounds that day.
I could lose about 10 in a day if I wanted to, but it’s not healthy at all.
Ten pounds in a day. Every sorority girl on campus wants to know your secret.
No, it’s not – we don’t do it the right way.
We put it right back on as soon as we step off the scale. I don’t do 10 pounds a day all the time. I usually only have to cut about five.
At a “healthier” weight of 133 pounds, do you feel like you’re wrestling better?
Yeah, I can focus more on wrestling, whereas last year I was constantly worrying about my weight. That’s all I thought about – what I weighed this week and how to lose it. Now, I can focus on my technique and my opponent. I can really concentrate on the wrestling aspect instead of worrying about my weight all the time.
3. The 34 years since the ratification of Title IX have seen over 400 colleges and universities drop their men’s wrestling programs, ostensibly for compliance purposes. Can this possibly be fair?
Obviously, I don’t agree with it. It’s unfortunate that wrestling has to take the major hits. But wrestling doesn’t make much money for the schools, so it gets cut.
But at a place like Cornell, it’s one of the most popular spectator sports.
And it can be everywhere. It has the potential.
You guys certainly aren’t hurting for crowds in this snazzy new building (Friedman Wrestling Center).
Yeah, it’s great.
Do you have any friends who were affected by these cuts?
Yeah, I had a bunch of friends on the Binghamton wrestling team when it ended.
That was fairly recent, wasn’t it?
Yeah, they actually got their program reinstated, but none of my friends are wrestling anymore.
Do you think that there’s a nationwide stigma associated with wrestling – the male testosterone-fueled violence, cutting weight, etc. – and does that explain why it seems that wrestling is always the first on the block?
I think maybe some of the negative attributes that are tied to wrestling have something to do with it, but I don’t think it’s really a “male” thing.
That’s right. You’re a lover, not a fighter.
4. Michaela Hutchinson, an Alaskan, just became the first girl to win a high school state wrestling championship against boys. Is it okay for girls to wrestle boys, especially considering how Title IX has affected men’s programs?
I think they should have their own team. It’s kind of a lose-lose situation for a guy wrestling a girl. If he goes out there and beats her up, then he’s that jerk who beat up a girl. But if he loses, then he’s the laughingstock of his whole team.
He has to quit right there, doesn’t he?
Yeah, pretty much.
If you had to face a girl, would you approach the match differently?
I actually almost did last year. Princeton had a girl on their team. She forfeited to me, but I was nervous before the match.
Do you know why she forfeited?
I don’t really know. Maybe she was hurt, or maybe her coach didn’t want to put her out against me. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m a man.
You’re a man. A man’s man.
Yeah, I’m a man.
If you had to face a girl, do you think you’d win?
Yeah, I hope so. And if I didn’t, I’d probably leave my shoes on the mat and never return.
Aren’t you only supposed to do that if you win?
Yeah, but that would be embarrassing.
5. As a wrestler, you have to deal with things like cauliflower ear. Do you ever get worried about the possibility of permanent disfigurement?
That was actually asked to one of the other guys on the team, and I thought he answered it perfectly. Some guy asked if it’s a badge of honor or a work hazard. It’s definitely a work hazard.
Chicks don’t dig scars?
Well, they dig scars, but not huge protrusions coming out of your ear.
6. Do you ever feel anxious about the fact that you spend three hours a day rolling around on the floor with a bunch of sweaty guys wearing spandex?
[Laughs] I’d like to think that I have enough – I mean, it’s obviously something I look forward to every single day. Rolling around on mats with sweaty guys and touching their asses. What guy wouldn’t look forward to that?
I can’t think of any.
Actually, neither can I.
You’re just screwing with me, aren’t you?
Don’t make me come over there and kick your ass.
7. You’re an AEM major. This means you have a job already, right?
Yeah, I’m going to work at Deutsche Bank.
Ah, the magical world of investment banking.
Yep, that’s me. Unfortunately.
Trading the rigors of collegiate wrestling for the 100-hour work week. Seems fair. I hope you enjoy that 60″ plasma TV and the five minutes a month when you’re actually get to watch it.
Yeah, I know. But I have friends, so they can come over to my house and hang out while I’m at work.
I have a few friends in banking, and I hear it’s a pretty high-intensity field. But you’re used to high-intensity – you’re a wrestler. Do you think that will help you survive?
You’ll be working long hours, but it’s not as if the guy in the next cubicle will be trying to snap you in two.
Right. I don’t think I’ll need surgery after a long day at the office. That’s the best part.
8. You grew up in Orange County, N.Y. What’s the biggest difference between home and Orange County, Calif.?
They don’t have Orange County Choppers.
Oh, those guys. When I worked at Harley-Davidson last year, they came to tour the plant, and it was as if the world stopped turning. They’re like redneck gods with questionable facial hair. But wouldn’t you rather live in Southern California?
Oh, of course.
What’s the better TV show? The OC, or American Chopper?
The OC has been too much like a soap opera lately. So, I’d have to go with American Chopper.
I wouldn’t know. I’ve never seen The OC.
It’s not a bad show. You should check it out.
That’s what I hear.
Hey, I only watch it because my roommate Joe Mazzurco makes me.
Is he a sissy, too?
Yeah. Wait, are you saying that I’m a sissy?
I didn’t say it. I implied it.
Jim March and myself watch the Military Channel a lot, so that makes up for it.
9. What’s it like to grow up with two older sisters?
I didn’t have that older brother to come beat me up all the time, but I had a lot of friends who had older brothers, so they filled that role. But it’s great, you know, my sisters and I are good friends. We talk a lot.
Did they ever paint your toenails? Dress you up?
No, no they didn’t. Thank God. I was always beating them up.
Look man, it’s never okay to hit a girl.
You can if it’s your own sister. But I never hit them, I just wrestled them.
Oh, that makes it all better. Have you ever had to, I don’t know, protect them?
Not really, but all my friends here harass me constantly. They think my sisters are hot.
How old are they?
24 and 26. But one just got engaged, and the other has a boyfriend. So, they’re off the market. Everyone backed off.
As the brother, did you have to sign off on these guys?
Not really, because I’m never around. But they’re both good guys.
Are they scared of you?
I hope so.
10. What’s the hottest women’s team at Cornell?
Let’s see. I’m going to have to go out on a limb with this one.
Wait. First of all, do you have a girlfriend.
Does she play a sport here?
It’s BASE Productions.
Why do you say that?
Let me guess – your girlfriend dances for them?
Yeah, that’s why.
This rampant emasculation has to stop. Let me rephrase the question. What’s the hottest women’s varsity sports team at Cornell?
Well, I’m actually not supposed to pick a certain women’s team.
And, of course, you’re going to tell me exactly what that team is.
OK, I know where this is going, and in the interest of the public good, let’s just move on. Give me another team, unless you really think it’s track.
It’s hard. There are so many girls to choose from.
That’s true, but it doesn’t mean you’re getting out of this.
Oh, I’m going to give you an answer. Let’s see