Nauman originally disliked wrestling, now an All-American

By Mike Furlong

When Tyler Nauman started wrestling in first grade he didn’t really like it. “I… When Tyler Nauman started wrestling in first grade he didn’t really like it. “I had a coach that would just show moves, it was real hard to learn anything just watching him. I was hoping for something more hands on,” Nauman said. “It was tough, and I didn’t like it.” He stuck with it, though, and his persistence paid off two weeks ago, when he became an All-American by finishing fifth at the NCAA Championships Nauman said that the support of his family has powered his success more than anything else. “My dad was a single parent and took me to tournaments every weekend since I was five or six, and my stepmom is just amazing, whether it be sending me texts or e-mails to get me through tough times or just to say hello.” “It really helps but also makes it hard because I want to perform at my best always to not let them or myself down. It’s definitely a huge part of my success,” he said. Coach Rande Stottlemyer agreed that Nauman’s family has played an important role in his development. “Tyler really has a great support system behind him, with a family that travels all over the place to see him wrestle,” Stottlemyer said. That support pushed Nauman to very impressive distances at Middletown High School, in Harrisburg, compiling a career win total of 156, with 75 pins (both school records). Nauman’s impressive numbers propelled him to become a four-time Pennsylvania state place-winner, including a state championship his senior year in the 130-pound weight class. With the impressive wrestling resume that Nauman compiled during high school, he was actively recruited by many colleges. But Nauman knew all along that Pitt was the place for him. And it was the only school where he took an official athletic visit. Nauman said that he had a minor interest in both Penn State and North Carolina. “But when I got here, I just liked the whole city and liked the team when I got the two days to hang out with them,” he said. But there was already someone in his weight class when he arrived on campus. “Most people wouldn’t like that the team had a fifth-year senior in Drew Headlee that was in the spot that I wanted to wrestle,” he said. “I really saw it as an opportunity … I got to work with him every day and get myself that much better.” Nauman entered Pitt as a redshirt, taking the first season to practice with the team and compete at open tournaments. At those tournaments he garnered an impressive 21-8 record, and after that first year, he still had four years of eligibility remaining. “Doing five years, it’s not for everybody. It really is a year-round commitment. If you don’t [commit], you just won’t be competitive,” Stottlemyer said. “Tyler is one of [those] guys that can be productive throughout five years of wrestling, he’s a kid that does wrestling all the time. During the summer he does camps,” he said. As Stottlemyer put it, there’s simply something in the mindset of Nauman that drives him to succeed on the mat. “He is arguably our best guy. You want him out there on the mat,” Stottlemyer said. “When the lights go on something goes off inside that brings out the best in [guys like Nauman].” During his second year at Pitt, as a redshirt freshman, Nauman found himself in the starting lineup at 141 pounds. He achieved a 29-9 record on the season, including an individual Eastern Wrestling League title and earning a bid to the NCAA Championships. Nauman went 1-2 at the Championships, but it was in his first loss of the tournament where Nauman built a lot of confidence. In this match Nauman lost 6-4 in sudden victory — during an overtime period — to the eventual champion, J. Jaggers of Ohio State. “That guy goes on to win the national championship,” Stottlemyer said. “But you know, if you ask [Jaggers] who his toughest match was, he’ll tell you Tyler Nauman.” Nauman described his mentality before matches aalwayss confident. “Some people get really nervous before big matches. I don’t,” Nauman said. “I’ve been nervous, but never really nervous. That match [against Jaggers] was the first time I had ever felt any of that.” This year, Nauman improved to a 36-5 record, including a perfect 18-0 record during team dual meets. This led Nauman to be named a team captain in only his second year as a starter. This leadership contributed to Pitt’s run to its first ever EWL team championship. “Every year the goal was an EWL title,” Nauman said. “But this year we made small goals, which we knew in the long run would bring in that title. As a team we dedicated [ourselves] to improving our work ethic to win.” Stottlemyer said Nauman’s experience as an All-American can only give him more determination to succeed. “Now he has two chances for the national title,” Sottlemyer said. “Obviously, that’s his goal.”