Q&A with MAC Wrestler of the Week Mike DePalma

Dan Armelli

Fifth-year senior 149-pounder Mike DePalma’s 3-0 performance at the Eastern Michigan duals last weekend earned him MAC Wrestler of the Week honors. It’s the first time he’s won the award.

DePalma beat Rider University sophomore B.J. Clagon in his third match of the day. Clagon, ranked fourth in his weight class according to InterMat, placed fifth in the NCAA Championships last year. DePalma also won by decision against Bloomsburg and won by technical fall in the first period against Olivet College.

The Stater sat down with Depalma to talk about his career, his time at Kent and more.

Kent State will participate in the Ohio Duals at 10 a.m. at Spire Institute in Geneva.

You’re from a town in Pennsylvania (Jeannette) not too far from here. You started wrestling at Edinboro for a couple years. How did you end up at Kent State? 

We had a little dispute with the weights at Edinboro. Me and another kid had to wrestle-off a bunch. He eventually beat me out. I ended up leaving just to get a starting spot somewhere else.

You wrestled at 157 your freshman year then went down to 149. How difficult was that transition? 

I made it a lot more difficult than it needed to be. I think that was me being a little immature and making mistakes instead of committing to getting stronger and making a weight gain. I just let it weigh on me and got angry at the world. It was a little rough on me but that was for my own personal reasons.

When did you tell yourself you could wrestle at this level and be successful at it?

I don’t know that I ever said that to myself. I think it’s just one of those things where I hit a certain point in training where I started really believing in myself and enjoying the sport so much to where I just knew that I can be really good at this.

What kind of wrestler would you say you are? Do you like attacking from the first whistle or wearing the opponent down?

A little bit of both. It depends on who I’m wrestling or how the match is going. But I like to wear guys down. That’s the plan this year, to really just beat on guys, and get them as tired as can be.

Last week you talked about focusing on your mental preparation for the weekend instead of the actual event. Is this type of preparation a new thing for you or have you been doing this your whole career?

It’s not new but it’s more intact than it’s been in the past. In the past, I wasn’t mentally preparing properly for matches. You’d see a lot of up’s and down’s with me. But now I have a system that I don’t deviate from. I do the same things when I go live every single day just to prepare myself mentally to feel exactly what it’s going to feel like in a match.

You, Ian Miller, and Mack McGuire are all fifth-year seniors who have qualified for the NCAA’s multiple times. Does having guys like them as teammates help you at all in terms of them setting the bar high for yourself?

Of course. I compete against those guys every day in the room. They’re my opponents too even though they’re my boys. 

Do you guys ever have friendly debates about who the best wrestler on the team is? 

No. We’re so much different from each other. I’m a high-pace guy. Mack’s really skilled. Ian’s a freak of nature. That kid can do a lot of things other people can’t. There are a lot of differences between all of us. 

With those differences, how do you guys interact when you’re together on road trips?

Just have fun like young kids do. We only get to do this once.

You were named MAC Wrestler of the Week this week. Is this an award that you specifically shoot for or is that something that just comes along with the success?

I think that’s something that just came out through working hard. That’s not something I aim for. But I’m honored to have it. 

What are you looking to get out the Ohio Duals this weekend?

I’m looking to score more points with my feet from an offensive standpoint and really push the pace and keep my positioning really well.

Contact Dan Armelli at [email protected]