MEQUON, Wis. – Ben Askren's experience and knowledge of wrestling is vast and on Tuesday he stopped by Concordia University Wisconsin's practice to help the Falcons as they near the end of their season.
Askren's wrestling résumé is impressive to say the least. He won two NCAA Division I national titles at the University of Missouri, numerous awards as the nation's top wrestler and a bid to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
When asked what made him successful he couldn't fully respond because he said it would take an hour to answer. This is what he said: "Hard work. Dedication. Discipline. Sacrifice. You can't get to the top of any sport without putting in everything you have, both physically and mentally.
The greatest athletes, in any sport, have something that divides them from others. Some people believe it is their God given physical abilities, but in reality, their mental characteristics separates them from everyone else.
Askren talked about what got him to the Olympic mat: "You obviously need the physical ability to get to highest level of wrestling, but what separates people is the mental aspect of the sport. Are you willing to make the small adjustments to make yourself successful or are you going to keep doing what you have always done? Can you build the confidence in yourself to go out and wrestle every single person to be successful? Are you persistent enough that when you get beat up and knocked down to get back up and try again?"
Yes, being a superior athlete will help those achieve accolades, titles and experiences few get to have; but understanding what it takes to defeat your opponent is what Askren understands the most.
"All success takes the same components and I just continue to push myself farther to get better, and fill in all my weaknesses," the current Mixed Martial Arts competitor said. "Even when I won those national titles and (Dan) Hodge Awards [given to the nation's top collegiate wrestler] there were still weaknesses that needed to be filled to take that next step and get to the Olympic level."