Waldhauser going all out to bring home state title

By: Matt Long
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Vince Waldhauser is on a mission, a quest to experience tears of joy. The 160-pound Oak Ridge senior who placed second at the state wrestling tournament a year ago is looking to win it this year. Sure, he’d love to have that gold medal hanging around his neck, but what he really wants is to experience the feeling of seeing all his hard work pay off. “Watching a guy like Mark Perry from Iowa win his first NCAA championship, he’s one of the toughest guys around and he’s just crying,” Waldhauser said. “He runs into the stands and hugs his mom. I want to experience that feeling, that feeling you get after working so hard to achieve something and finally achieving it. That’s got to be overwhelming and I want it.” Waldhauser started his postseason by winning the Delta River League championship in the 160-pound weight class over the weekend and is now looking to win back-to-back divisional and masters titles before heading to Bakersfield for the state tournament on March 4-5. Last year Waldhauser lost 6-0 to Bryce Hammond of Bakersfield in the championship match, a match in which he suffered a severely sprained left ankle early in the first period. Waldhauser had a marvelous tournament up to the final round, pinning his first four opponents, three in the first period, before earning a 3-0 win in the semi-finals. The loss to Hammond in the finals gave him all the motivation he needed in the offseason to work even harder. It’s that hard work that has made him so good. “There’s no secret to being successful in wrestling,” Waldhauser said. “In my mind it’s all about working hard and believing in yourself.” Waldhauser doesn’t fear losing, but he knows that only one wrestler in each weight class can win a state title. The chances of him losing a match along the way are real, but Waldhauser views losing about as well as any athlete can. “Everyone loses and if I build it up (winning a state title) too much I will be crushed even more if I lose,” Waldhauser said. “There are a lot of tough guys out there and if I win, awesome, and if I lose, I know that I’ve worked as hard as I could.” Waldhauser has his future planned. He’s already earned and accepted a scholarship to attend the University of Virginia, which has helped take some pressure off him this season. Last year Waldhauser snuck up on people and wasn’t necessarily the favorite going into every tournament. This year, however, he’s been the favorite in every tournament his participated in except for the Walsh Ironman in Ohio. In early December in the toughest high school tournament in the nation, Waldhauser suffered his only loss of the season, dropping a 3-2 decision in the championship match. It’s his only loss this season against 40 wins. So what makes Waldhauser so tough? If you ask Waldhauser, it’s his improved strength along with a few key mental breakthroughs. “I’m a lot stronger this year than last year, I’d say three times stronger,” Waldhauser said. “I’ve also had some key mental breakthroughs that have helped me. My sophomore year it was believing in myself. That was big for me to start believing in myself. Another breakthrough was believing that if I kept working hard everything would fall together. My big breakthrough this year was just relaxing and going out there and wrestling. Coach (Casey) Rhyan told me that I’ve done everything I can to prepare and now just go out there, don’t worry about anything and just wrestle and that’s what I’ve done and it’s helped me to relax.” Waldhauser works out twice a week with former UC Davis star wrestler and three-time NCAA qualifier Jeremiah Jarvis, who’s helped Waldhauser improve even more. “He’s helped me tremendously,” Waldhauser said. “We do a lot of live wrestling and he’s helped me with my technique and mental strategies.” Jarvis can’t say enough of Waldhauser. Perhaps the biggest compliment he can give him is saying that he believes Waldhauser is ready for collegiate wrestling. “Vince is a great kid who’s got great technique and pushes himself extremely hard,” Jarvis said. “We work out twice a week, but if it were up to him we’d meet every day. We do about 30 to 40 minutes of live wrestling and then we break down and work on technique. What separates Vince from others is his dedication. There’s a big gap between being a high school wrestler and a college wrester. Most high school kids quit or give up after trying to make one counter move, but Vince keeps working counter after counter and he will not quit. In my mind, he’s ready to be a collegiate wrestler.” Waldhauser’s coach, Casey Rhyan, is impressed by his star wrestler. “Vince is a tough kid and a fierce competitor,” Rhyan said. “He never wants to lose and he will do whatever it takes to be a state champion. He doesn’t stop and out-hustles and out-works all of his opponents. He also enjoys what he’s doing and has fun out on the mat.” With the postseason under way, the only thing left to do is keep qualifying for the next tournament. This weekend Waldhauser will aim for a divisional title with the Masters championships on Feb. 25-26 in Stockton. The state tournament is March 4-5 in Bakersfield. “I’ve been looking forward to this and I’ve worked all season for this time of year,” Waldhauser said. ”I’m as prepared as I can be and I’m not nervous or worried about losing. I’ve got my eye on the prize.” Vince Waldhauser Grade: Senior at Oak Ridge High Weight: 160 pounds Record: 40-1 Ranked: 1st in the Sac-Joaquin Section, 2nd in the state Goal: To win a state championship Quote: “There’s no secret to being successful in wrestling ... it’s all about working hard and believing in yourself.”