SM: Yeah, my recruitment process was definitely a lot different than most. I reclassified and became a junior back in February, so I got started a little later than everyone else. I was supposed to visit UNC on an official visit in March, but then campus and everything got shut down because of COVID-19. It's been really different. I've just spent a lot of time talking on the phone with (UNC head) coach (Coleman) Scott. We've just been going back and forth about how we're wasting lots of time over this break and movie suggestions. Just building that family member connection.
DTH: What was it about Scott and the coaching staff that made you feel confident in your decision?
SM: It just felt like all the coaches really cared for me as a person. They wanted to make sure I was making the decision that was right for me. And whether that meant UNC or somewhere else, they wanted to provide for me all the information they had to make sure I was in the best position I could possibly be.
DTH: So you've gone 48-0 and won a state championship the year after finishing runner-up, correct? That's a pretty impressive high school resume.
SM: It's been really cool. This past year, I just wanted to focus on having fun and enjoying this experience because I knew I only had one more year after (reclassifying). There was less focus on just trying to win and more focus on just enjoying the time and the high school experience with wrestling and being around friends. It worked out to where I wrestled really good and felt like I got a lot better this season.
DTH: Has there been anyone from UNC that you've looked at as a role model or tried to learn more about wrestling from?
SM: One guy that I really started watching a lot this year was (redshirt junior) Kennedy Monday. The way he wrestles and is just constantly going — it doesn't matter if he's up by five or six points already — he's still scoring more points and trying to blow guys out of the water. That's what I like to see and how I like to wrestle.
DTH: He's a little bit of a bigger guy than you, so do you see yourself trying to bulk up when you get to Chapel Hill or stay in that lower 130-pound weight range?
SM: I'm planning on staying at 125 for all four years. You never know what can happen, but the plan for now is to stay at 125.
DTH: What are some of the major takeaways you've had from high school wrestling and tournaments that you're trying to apply to your time at UNC?
SM: Just working on my mindset and constantly trying to get better every day. Instead of just focusing on the results and what place I finish in things, I'm just trying to get one percent better each day.
DTH: What about your wrestling style do you think will gain attention in Chapel Hill?
SM: I think it's the fact that I wrestle hard for the full match. A lot of people can wrestle for a good four minutes or so, then die out towards the end. I like to kind of pride myself on my ability to be the one in better shape and still going at the end of a match.
DTH: You mentioned earlier how the coronavirus impacted your recruitment. With wrestling obviously being one of the sports with the most contact, are you worried about your high school career being shortened?
SM: Yeah, it stinks, but I've kind of tried to just focus on controlling the things that I can control. I just have to keep wrestling as much as I can. Hopefully we get to have our season, but if it ends up getting canceled, it's not the end of the world. I still have many more years of wrestling in my life. You just gotta go with it.
DTH: With everything being shut down, how have your workouts and routines been impacted?
SM: I've had to transfer from a lot less actual wrestling to more lifting and working out. Most of the time, this is around the time of the year with a lot of national tournaments that I'd be going to. Instead, I've had to spend a lot more time at home and spend time with my family.
DTH: Did the fact that those tournaments were canceled play a role in your brief recruitment process or were you already pretty sure about UNC?
SM: I've been pretty confident in UNC. The little bit that had been holding me back before was not being able to get on campus and see it. This past weekend my family was free, and me and my dad were able to make the drive down to campus and just walk around to see the beauty. Once I had that opportunity, I knew it was the place where I wanted to be. I can't wait to get down there and make an impact on the wrestling mat and in the community.
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