Paulson to wrestle for U at Big Tens

by AllisonYounge

Upgrade rumor to fact: former Olympic wrestler Brandon Paulson has emerged from retirement to compete for the Gophers in the postseason.
Minnesota coach J Robinson said Tuesday that Paulson is back in the official lineup and will compete at the Big Ten tournament.
“Him coming back was a mutual thing,” Robinson said. “He kind of missed it and the coaches talked to him a little bit. He had been away from it, so it was something that he wanted to try.”
After finishing last season at the NCAA tournament with one year of college eligibility remaining, Paulson announced his early retirement.
At the time, he said that he was tired of wrestling and wanted to focus on academics and job hunting instead of enduring another long, grinding season. He admitted that after winning a silver medal in the 1996 Olympics, it was a struggle to get motivated for college wrestling.
The Gophers coaches left the option open for Paulson to return, but by the beginning of the season, the veteran’s decision to retire stood firm. Paulson could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Freshman Brett Lawrence claimed the 118 pound position this season in Paulson’s absence. While Lawrence holds a 16-10 overall mark, lately he has struggled with Big Ten opponents.
“Brett had a good year as a freshman, but he’s having a hard time right now,” Robinson said. “That’s just something that freshmen go through. Paulson is coming in fresh, and the team knows him. I think it’ll help the team a little bit mentally.”
A three-year starting veteran, Paulson’s return comes at a vital time for the Gophers. With only the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments remaining, team title hopes weigh in the balance. Although he has been training for the last six weeks, Paulson’s first competitive match with the Gophers this season will be at the conference tournament.
“We’ve known this for about six weeks, and we’ve just kind of waited to see,” Robinson said. “We’ve been training him a little bit different — having him weigh in at different times. He’s had some matches on Saturdays against some of our own guys setting up hypothetical situations.”
Last weekend, expecting to wrestle the 118 pound match against Northwestern, Paulson earned his first win — by opponent forfeit. While the match didn’t offer the competitive challenge Paulson anticipated, he will enter the postseason with a winning 1-0 record. His lifetime record now stands at 79-30.
While Robinson is pleased to have Paulson back in the lineup, he’s ready to waive any unnecessary pressure. The Gophers returning veteran is just one of 10 wrestlers contributing his talent to bid for this year’s conference and national titles.
“Everybody is going to make it out to be the catch all, the cure — that’s not it,” Robinson said. “It’s just one piece of the puzzle, and we want to keep it that way.”