U’s Golyer energizes wrestlers

Allison Younge

In a sport where energy, intensity and fierceness are of utmost importance, Gophers 126-pound wrestler Bart Golyer has been known to go a little overboard.
Golyer awaits the second match of the night, brewing with emotion. Once his bout is signaled, his dynamic fuse is lit and his intensity explodes onto his opponent.
“Sometimes he gets so tight that when he gets out there he’s so pumped up he can hardly move,” Gophers assistant coach Joe Russell said. “Instead of trying to fire him up, we try to make him relax, maybe tell him a joke or just do something to distract him. It’s the opposite of what you do with most guys.”
Golyer’s excitement is undoubtedly genuine — he’s dreamed of the scenario for years. After receiving the starting nod just three weeks ago, Golyer has reveled in his newfound position.
“It’s the biggest challenge for me,” he said. “Ever since I was young I had always thought, I wonder what it’s like to be a Gopher. I wonder what they go through in a day. I wonder what it feels like when they’re tying their shoes before their matches.'”
An awestruck kid, Golyer faithfully followed the Gophers during the beginning of his own career in St. Francis, Minn. While introduced to wrestling earlier, through matches staged in his living room against his older brother, Golyer took an interest in the formal wrestling setting.
He took the official mat as a second grader competing for St. Francis’ club team and discovered his niche.
“Being a shorter kid growing up, I was in little fights, but wrestling was one place where there were rules and it was equal — two guys that weigh the same and are about the same age,” Golyer said. “I just loved that one-on-one battle.”
Heightened expectations, rigorous training and serious college competition haven’t lessened Golyer’s determination to excel in his favorite sport. Even though he is the newest addition to Minnesota’s lineup, Golyer doesn’t allow himself to let up in any matches.
“My goal wasn’t to be one of the starters and just be mediocre,” Golyer said. “If I’m going to be wrestling for the Gophers, I want to win. I want to qualify for nationals. I want to be right up there.”
Last weekend in the Gophers’ match against Michigan State, Golyer made an impressive stride on his path to the top. After trailing the Spartans’ sixth-ranked 126-pounder Pat McNamara by a score of 3-2 after the first period, Golyer seized control of his opponent and the match.
A minute into the second period, McNamara had nearly wormed his way out of bounds, when Golyer jerked him back in the circle, flattened him on his back and pinned him. After the match, Gophers coach J Robinson recognized the importance of Golyer’s energy outburst.
“To see him wrestle tough the whole time and get that fall, it was a big deal for the team,” Robinson said. “That’s what we need — we need that enthusiasm.”
Besides gaining a pin and a win from the hard-fought bout, Golyer earned a notch of validation. After three years of battling for a starting position, he broke through with a crowd-pleasing upset victory.
Golyer (19-5) realizes that sustaining his position will take as much or more hard work as it did to gain it. Since winning the spot from Gophers All-American 126-pounder Pat Connors, he has been under constant competitive pressure in the practice room. But the situation is far from negative.
“It adds strength to the team and depth,” Golyer said. “It’s nothing that takes away from the team. When we run sprints, we run to beat each other. There is always that competitiveness, but off the mat we’re friends.”
Fans aren’t likely to see anything but Golyer’s fiery personality during Minnesota’s 126-pound match, but intensity isn’t his only trait nor wrestling his sole focus. Unashamed of displaying his Christian faith, Golyer leads a team Bible study and freely speaks about where his ultimate devotion lies.
“My Christian faith is the biggest part of my life as far as life goes, and activities,” he said.
His faith seemingly carries over to the wrestling mat, helping him to find perspective and at times harness his overactive emotions.
“You don’t have to be a four-time state champion and have all these credentials to make it,”Golyer said. “If you persevere, you’ll get a fair shot of making the team and achieving your goals.”