Here are two important facts about Iowa State wrestler Sam Colbray: 1. He weighed in as the heavyweight in his first collegiate match. 2. He hasn’t weighed 174 pounds since seventh grade.
Today, in the words of Cyclones head coach Kevin Dresser, he looks like Tarzan.
Colbray did something uncommon going into the holidays with the middle of the season fast approaching: he dropped ten pounds to officially change his starting weight class from 184 pounds to 174 pounds.
The redshirt junior’s physical, emotional and mental transformation began last season. It came down to realizing and accepting that the greater the investment, the great the payout will be.
“We’ve been training, and been doing a lot of investing. It’s time for it to pay out. When I get on the mat, my mindset is, ‘Why work so hard and not tear somebody’s head off?'” Colbray said a year ago.
The Oregon native has now wrestled at four different weights during his collegiate career (285, 197, 184 and 174). He had wrestled a total of 46 matches at 184 pounds alone before making the drop last month.
“He’s super talented. It was a matter of getting him focused and getting him disciplined,” Dresser said last March after learning Colbray was the No. 1 seed at the Big 12 Championships. “‘Ya know, really getting him to buy into what it takes to showcase that ability. You watch that guy walk around town and when we got here, jeez, over two years ago the guy was a redshirt and was weighing about 230. It wasn’t a pretty 230 if you know what I mean,” The guy is capable of winning titles.”
In his debut weekend he won against Utah Valley and went 2-1 at the Sundevil Duals. And even though an adjustment period comes with change, Colbray is staying positive, optimistic and confident.
“I feel like a monster,” Colbray said. “Anytime someone makes weight for the first time it’s a little bit shaky. I’m not one to lie or sugarcoat things. I felt shaky, but I’ve made the cut to 184 before and that was shaky the first couple weekends but after that I felt like a monster. Not only does strength and training catch up but when it catches up to 174, I’m a pretty good contender.”
Dresser was impressed.
The biggest focus now is getting Colbray to the top of the podium.
“We’re not doing this to be an all-american dude, we’re doing this to be in the finals,” Dresser told Colbray on the deciding factor to move him down a weight.
Dresser weighed the idea of flip-flopping Colbray and Marcus Coleman for a while, but was waiting for the right moment to mention it to Colbray. That moment came on Dec. 15.
“We sat down after the Chattanooga dual meet, I had the thought in my head but I didn’t really spring it on him until then. I said ‘We’re going to do this. I want you to consider doing this and here’s why you want to do it,'”” Dresser said. “He was on board. He went home over break for seven days and did everything right and came back where he was supposed to be.”
Colbray has trusted in the process of Dresser and his staff and their determination to make Iowa State a top program. When Colbray was approached with the option it felt like a no-brainer to him.
“I just wanted to make more sacrifice to get a bigger payout. I knew that I was cut out for the weight at 184. I just wanted to excel, so not only does making the drop to 174 make my training and cardio a little better but it’s a decision that you sacrifice more when you want a bigger reward and that’s what I intend to do, get a bigger reward sacrificing a little bit,” Colbray said.
Colbray’s greatest transformation, however, comes from his maturity.
The now 174 pounder has grown from a guy who may or may not give you a full seven minutes and would shock you if he posted a large margin win, to an explosive, strong and aggressive guy in the line up. His plan to reach the podium in March is not unrealistic, but it all comes down to whether or not he will truly will buy into it himself.
“He’s a lot more mature. This is a lot more important to him. I think there’s still another notch of ‘It’s important to me’ like you get up every morning and want to be the guy at the top of the podium. I think he gets up some mornings and wants to and then some mornings he’s not sure. But, when you get up every morning and you want to be the top guy at the podium then you have a chance to be the top guy at the podium. And, I mean truly wake up and want to be the guy at the podium and you went to bed on time to make sure that when you woke up you felt good. I see that guy and I see the potential in that guy,” Dresser said.
Colbray’s potential, strength, speed and the caliber of guys in the weight class are among some of the reasons Dresser felt this was the best decision.
“If you’re not on board to get in the finals and what it takes to get in the finals then let’s just stay up at 184,” Dresser told Colbray when discussing the move.
“I want to win. I’ll do anything to win.”