Q&A: Montell Marion


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DI: After two matches back, how are you feeling out on the mat?

Marion: I feel that I definitely got some improvement to do, because even though the Penn State match was a win, I didn’t like the way the match went, given that I was thrown on my back in the first period … You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’ve got to come back.

DI: Being away for a while, was it hard staying in wrestling shape?

Marion: Above anything, your mental state is hard to keep in place. When I’m not knowing where I’m going to be at, whether or not I’m going to get a chance to wrestle for Iowa again, sometimes it’s hard to stay focused on your goals, to get the motivation to actually wake up in the morning and go get a lift in, or go to practice wondering if it’s all going to mean anything.

But if you give me a three-week time frame, I can get in shape. That can always come. What sets you apart from people in the country is your mindset.

DI: What changes have you made to your lifestyle since the suspension?

Marion: One thing that’s changed is just habits. Social life. I don’t go out nearly as much as I used to. And to be honest with you, that wasn’t the problem to begin with. I’ve never been a big partier, but my record and things that have shown up in the paper would speak otherwise just from my violations. The fact is that I don’t go out that much, but I’ve made bad decisions when I have gone out.

I think my social life has changed. Realizing that the people I’m around [are] going to have a huge influence on the decisions I make. So instead of going downtown, maybe I just go have dinner at my coach’s house.

DI: The fans gave you a standing ovation before your first match. What does that mean to you?

Marion: To be honest, I didn’t even notice, because I was focused in. But I heard about it, and it means a lot because they’re welcoming me back, they’re giving me another chance.

And a lot of people think that my past accomplishments are the only reasons they wanted me back. Like “Iowa’s not No. 1 anymore, so they need Montell Marion back to add some fuel to the fire.” But that’s not the case. We got these young guys; they don’t need me.

The reason that I’m back here is because I made some changes in my life to get people back on my side. And I didn’t do it the easy way. The easy way would’ve been to go to some other school. I had to enroll in classes without a guarantee, a lot of stuff that was hard. The fact that they gave me a standing ovation lets me know that I made the right decision and that people see it and appreciate it.

DI: You were here last year on a team stacked with seniors and experience, and you come back this year to a team of new faces and freshmen. How do the two groups compare?

Marion: The fact that we’re contesting for that No. 1 position shows the kind of firepower we have in this group of guys. It lets you know there was no drop-off from last year to this year.

These new faces in this room, they got a lot of character and they got a lot to prove. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed. We’re going after the No. 1 spot, we’re not settling for less. That hasn’t changed.

DI: Can you look back at your suspension now as a blessing in disguise?

Marion: That’s one definite way to look at it, because the things you go through make you who you are.

I wish I had made better decisions. But the fact is that I was able to bounce back from all the adversity I’ve gone through. So it is a blessing that I’m still here, because the alternative? I don’t want to think about it.

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