Wrestler credits determination to his father



Alex Atkinson

Kent State junior heavyweight Brendan Barlow credits his dad for his inability to quit an often-frustrating sport like wrestling.

Though this season did not start the way he planned, Barlow has stuck with it, coming off a win last weekend against Penn State’s fifth-ranked Cameron Wade. Sports Reporter A.J. Atkinson sat down with Barlow to discuss his determination and commitment to the team.

AA: I’ve heard it took three years for you to win your first wrestling match. Is that true?

BB: That’s true. Maybe fourth grade until about seventh grade. I was a little butterball. I’m still kind of squatty now, but I was a short, fat kid. Had a bowl cut. I would wrestle 160 pounds around fifth grade. I was just a little meatball. I would wrestle all these really tall, lanky kids, and they would just beat the life out of me. I would shoot in and they would just go around in behind and roll me over and pin me real fast. I wanted to quit so bad.

AA: What made you stick with it? Weren’t you getting frustrated losing all those matches?

BB: My dad is one of those crazy wrestling dads you’ve seen around. He kept working with me and made me who I am. I didn’t have the option to give up on it. He made me do it, and pretty much to this day (he) makes me do it. I love it now and I wouldn’t quit if he wasn’t in the equation. I’m incredibly grateful for it. He’s my best friend, too. It’s not like he’s just this bad guy or anything. He definitely kept me working hard and pushing through everything.

AA: Have you ever thought about quitting?

BB: I was having a real hard time. I was real small and weak and was wrestling these big men. It was rough. (Former Flashes wrestler Jermail Porter) — he weighed 320. I was like 240 or whatever I am now. I had to carry him up the bleachers and stuff. It was bad. It was just hard. Like I said, I was never ever raised to quit. I got beat up when I was a little kid and my dad made me push through it, and hopefully I’ll be that type of person for the rest of my life.

AA: While talking with you on the phone, I’ve noticed there is something familiar about your voice. You sound exactly like actor Seth Rogan. Is there a reason why? Is he your favorite actor and do you mimic him?

BB: I have no idea why that is. I think I do kind of sound like him now that you say it. (Laughs). Maybe I’ve just watched him in too many movies and picked up on that. Who knows?

AA: Do you watch a lot of movies?

BB: I am a movie nerd. I’m on IMDb all the time. I know countless actors and actresses. I read all the trivia facts on all the movies I’ve watched. I have a giant “Pulp Fiction” poster in my apartment. I love TV and movies.

AA: Is there a specific genre?

BB: All kinds of stuff. Anything, pretty much. I love dramas. I don’t like just “bro-y” UFC movies and stuff like that like most people on our team. Whenever I suggest a movie on the bus… I suggested “Boogie Nights” which is an excellent movie, but everybody else was like, “Ugh, this sucks.” They wanted to watch “Never Back Down” or something just awful.

AA: What are your goals for this season?

BB: My goal is to be an All-American this year. If I have a really good tournament I could be in the national finals. I could win a national title. If I can keep working on my offense and drilling hard like there’s nothing to lose, I can make that happen. It’s just been a really strange year in my life. I came in totally prepared for this year and wrestled literally awful the first weekend. Then I came back and wrestled very well. It’s just been an up and down season.

AA: Have you made many changes from the beginning of the year to now?

BB: There’s been a million changes. The first tournament I was like, “Maybe I’m sleeping too much.” I would sleep all the time. Any time I could find time for a nap I would sleep all the time. I was like, “You know, that may be making me more lackadaisical. So, I changed that up. “All right, maybe my diet’s bad.” I changed that. And my diets still changed. I eat incredibly healthy now. It’s just been a bunch of different things working. This past time, the last thing I fixed was to drill harder and faster and really pop off more shots. As many shots as I can, really working hard.

AA: What is “eating right” in wrestling season? Does your diet change a dramatic amount?

BB: This year, I learned more about nutrition because I took a couple nutrition courses. I focused a lot more on lifting. I’ve gotten a lot stronger. I take in way more protein. I wasn’t eating as much protein as I should have been. I eat the right amount of carbs, I eat a lot of beans and dietary fibers like that, fruits, tons of fruits, vegetables, lean meats. I’m kind of a freak about it now. I’m just obsessed with it now.

Contact Alex Atkinson at [email protected].