DI Awards: Borschel — Male Athlete of the Year
|David Scrivner/The Daily Iowan|
Iowa’s Jay Borschel took his unblemished record and ran onto the stage at the Qwest Center, eventually settling opposite Cornell’s undefeated wrestler, Mack Lewnes.
It didn’t matter which grappler left the mat with their perfect season intact and a national championship to their name.
Borschel was done.
He decided to hang up his singlet before his miraculous comeback against Virginia’s Christopher Henrich and before his career culminated perfectly in the 174-pound national championship match.
His time as a wrestler was going to last just seven more minutes.
His 6-2 dismantling of Lewnes allowed him to finish his Hawkeye career without a question of “What if?”
“I probably might have felt like I had something to prove if I hadn’t gotten that, but I figured this was my last year, and it makes it even better,” Borschel said. “It probably would have just been a little bit of regret. But I had pretty much made up my mind that I was going to be done at the end of this year either way. It’s just better to not have that regret.”
His final season was dominant. He finished 37-0 with Big Ten and NCAA championships. He allowed just an escape and a stall point to Lewnes — who hadn’t surrendered an offensive point all season.
The senior’s send-off put a jolt in Hawkeye head coach Tom Brands.
“It was a routine win. I love it,” Brands said. “It was a routine win in the national finals, and that’s a lot to get excited about. That’s as excited as I’ve ever been with routine.”
But even with a stellar finish to his collegiate career, Borschel said he had no desire to continue wrestling. He said he never was interested in Olympic-style wrestling. The Marion native couldn’t see himself wrestling for gold medals.
“I guess I just never really had that drive or any aspirations to keep going after college,” he said. “To me it was just to go to college, and wrestle, and get a good degree out of it, and then move on.
“Not to say that it hasn’t been a positive experience. It has taught me a lot of lessons that have been good for me.”
Hawkeye 125-pound champion Matt McDonough said he believes Borschel has the tools to succeed if he chose to go the Olympic route. He credited Borschel, who was also his high-school teammate, with helping him succeed.
“I saw him as someone who knew what was going on and knew how to win and what to do. And I really tried to emulate his style of wrestling and his hard work ethic,” McDonough said. “I got to know him a lot better over those years, and it carried over through college and I think it was the same thing. We both challenged each other to raise the bar to that next level.”
Borschel’s most important lessons now will come from his biology degree, and his next challenge will be securing a job after graduation.
Borschel said he has made contacts about a job, but his future isn’t set yet. He is looking to get involved in medical sales, combining both his science and technology interests.
“My ideal job would be to utilize the skills that I’ve learned and have something to do with what got me interested in majoring in biology,” he said. “It’s not really an easy major that I picked, and I picked it initially because I was interested in it, and I stuck with it. Hopefully, whatever I do will be interesting.”
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