SENECA — Fighting Irish senior Brandon Webb, by his own admission, was not a good wrestler when he first started. Adding to the challenge ahead of him was the fact that his older brother Ron was constantly throwing him around like a rag doll when the two sparred on and off the mat.
Brandon tried basketball then wrestling and then went back to basketball before settling in on pursuing life as a grappler in high school.
The IHSA Individual State Wrestling Finals began Thursday down at Assembly Hall in Champaign. Webb is one of 11 area individuals who made the cut to state this winter, and it's his second trip down competing in the event.
On Wednesday, before heading down south, Webb took time out of his practice schedule to engage the MDH in this week's question and answer session.
Q. How are you feeling as the weekend approaches?
A. Good. It's my second time going down and I'm physically and mentally ready. I know what goes on down there now inside the tunnel and I'm ready for it.
Q. How many times have you been to the state final, total?
A. This is my fourth time. I also went down twice to watch my brother.
Q. At Assembly Hall, what's the difference being there as a spectator and a competitor?
A. As a spectator, you don't get to see all of the behind-the-(scenes) things like the weigh-ins and the interactions between the wreslers.
Q. You interact with the other wrestlers?
A. Definitely. I'll talk to anybody from a heavyweight to a 106-pounder.
Q. What's the biggest thing you have learned by going and competing at state as a junior?
A. That you have to stay focused. There can be a lot of distractions in the bullpen. You have to stay focused in order to get the job done.
Q. When did you start wrestling?
A. In the fifth grade, though I played basketball in the sixth grade, wrestled again in the seventh grade and played basketball in the eighth.
Q. Why all the flip-flopping?
A. I wasn't really interested in wrestling. I did it because my dad, brother and sister liked it.
Q. So you committed to wrestling in high school?
A. Yeah, I wanted to get in shape. Turns out I loved it after that. I stayed with it because I wanted to beat all of my brother's records because he always used to beat me up.
Q. You get his records?
A. Yeah. I got the (Seneca) single-season pin record (74) and the team point record in a season (246). I'm also tied with Sage (Friese) for wins in a single season (39 headed to state). I'm also sixth in career wins (91).
Q. You're tied with Sage and both going to state. Does it matter who ends with the single season record?
A. Yeah, Sage and I are kind of competitive, and right now we're tied going down to the finals. It would be great if we got to the finals. I'd be glad to tie him then.
Q. Were you good at wrestling right from the start?
A. When I was in grade school, I was horrible. I lost almost every match. As a freshman I was 1-3, a sophomore 21-13 and last year 30-15.
Q. What was the biggest difference in your improvement?
A. It's the maturity level, both mentally and physically. It's knowing how to get through the practices. They are harder when you are younger. You learn that you just have to get it done. Physically, I'm stronger now and I don't get thrown around as much.
Q. The team set the school record for dual wins this year. Does it matter to you?
A. It does. Two year's ago when my brother wrested we set it then. we picked up some extra duals this year, but we still would have broken it anyway.
Q. You do know that this Q & A will run on Saturday. There's a chance you may be out of the tournament by then. If that happens, will you be disappointed?
A. Definitely. It would be a big disappointment. This is what I have been working for since I was a freshman. It's been my main goal to get in the finals. I think realistically, if I have my head on straight, I will get there and win it.
Q. Well, good luck. One last question for you. If you had a piece of advice for a young kid who wanted to wrestle at Seneca, what would that advice be?
A. It's not an easy sport. You have to get in shape and stay in shape and then just know you can do it. If you work hard, you can get to state and take home your own bracket board.