Vol. LXIV, No. 6
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
(Photo Courtesy of Princetons Office of Athletic Communications)
RIDING HIGH: Princeton University sophomore wrestling star Daniel Kolodzik overpowers a foe in a bout earlier this season. Last weekend, Kolodzik posted four wins at 149 pounds as Princeton topped Boston University 28-12, Harvard 35-10, Brown 21-15, and Sacred Heart 33-9. It marked the first time since 1989 that the Tiger wrestling team won four straight matches over Division I competition. The victories improved Princeton to 8-8 overall and 2-0 in Ivy League action, tying it with Cornell atop the league standings.
Daniel Kolodzik was a wrestler without a team during his high school days.
I went to a school with 43 kids in my graduating class, so I competed as an individual, said Kolodzik, who grew up in Pellbrook, Ohio and went to the Miami Valley School.
My dad was my coach and I was fortunate enough to train about 30 minutes away.
Undeterred, Kolodzik established himself as one of the top wrestlers in Ohio, winning state championships at 103 pounds in 2005 and at 127 in 2007. He ended up recording a career high school record of 144-17 wrestling between 103-135 pounds.
In the fall of 2008, Kolodzik made his way to Princeton University and quickly became a valuable member of the Tiger wrestling team.
As a freshman, Kolodzik picked up ten victories at 149 and represented the Tigers at the EIWA Championships.
This season, he has continued to progress, beating such nationally ranked foes as David Greenwald of Rutgers and Mike Kessler of Rider.
In assessing his career, Kolodzik acknowledges that things havent come easy for him.
Its been a long journey to get to where Im confident competing against some of the top guys, said Kolodzik.
Between wrestling at a weight that Im comfortable with and finally getting good, consistent training with guys in the room, plus the help from the coaches, its really been a good situation for me.
Kolodzik went through lumps as a freshman in developing that confidence.
I had a couple of welcome to college moments, but Ive really been thrilled with my whole career so far, said Kolodzik.
Ive just been kind of trying to build on each success and not really worry about the negatives. It was definitely a struggle my freshman year, but coming into this year, I felt that after making it through that, I could do a lot better.
Despite not having a high school team, Kolodzik didnt struggle to find good competition.
He was able to train with the wrestlers from St. Paris Graham, a team currently third in the national high school rankings.
I had a really good training situation there, Kolodzik said. There were just a lot of good practice partners. I was able to do fairly well in high school because of that. It was a really positive experience.
Kolodzik was positive he could wrestle on the college level; it was just a question of which Ivy League school was the right fit.
It came down to Princeton, Columbia, or Cornell, recalled Kolodzik.
I realized I didnt want to go to Cornell. The weather is not very nice. I really just felt a lot more comfortable here. Its the student experience for what a college should be. Its a little different in Columbia when youre in the city.
Tiger head coach Chris Ayres is glad that Kolodzik chose Princeton.
Hes definitely shown hes got tons of talent by beating a couple of ranked kids, said Ayres.
You have to have some breakthroughs. Those matches made him realize he could compete with those guys. It has been a tough transition, but I think hes making the changes necessary to be really successful at this level.
In Kolodziks view, the Tigers are laying the foundation for success with their progress reflected by a banner performance last weekend which saw Princeton beat Boston University 28-12, Harvard 35-10, Brown 21-15, and Sacred Heart 33-9.
It marked the first time since 1989 that the Tiger wrestling team won four straight matches over Division I competition. The victories improved Princeton to 8-8 overall and 2-0 in Ivy League action, tying it with Cornell atop the league standings.
I feel like were getting a lot better every dual meet, said Kolodzik, who posted four victories to help fuel the teams big weekend.
Guys are coming in and everyone is excited to wrestle. Were going to make some big jumps this season.
While Kolodzik is still experiencing his share of ups and downs this winter, his victories over nationally-ranked opponents has given the sophomore reason to aim high in 2010.
Our goal is to get to the NCAAs this year, said Kolodzik. I really think we can do that. Last year, it was really hard to look at myself and feel as if I was ready to do this. This year, I really think its possible.
Ayres also believes Kolodzik is just beginning to tap his potential on the college level.
We have had some nice breakthroughs this year, said Ayres, whose squad hosts Cornell and Columbia on February 13.
If he continues to build on those matches, hes going to be pretty darn tough to beat this year.
In the process, the toughness that Kolodzik developed going out of his way to wrestle on his own in high school could land him a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
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