Gophers wrestler is a wild man on, off the mat

Sarah Mitchell

Fishing, hunting and — occasionally — wrestling. These are the topics Troy Marr likes to talk about.
In his fifth season with the Gophers wrestling team, the forest products marketing major has had ample time to build a reputation as the team’s wilderness boy, even involving them in his adventures. Gophers assistant coach Joe Russell recalled a near-death story from a trip to California.
“We were out there running a wrestling camp. He wanted to go panning for gold and every time I stopped the car, he would jump out and go running toward the nearest mountain stream,” Russell said. “Finally I was fed up with it. As he was getting into the car I started to pull ahead, leaving him hanging on the door. Then I realized I was driving him along the edge of a cliff. Let’s just say that he’s never been late for practice since.”
Looking for ways to harm himself or others started in third grade when Marr stepped on the mat for the first time. A sluggish start, however, didn’t make the eventual two-time Minnesota high school state champion look like much of a prospect.
“My first year I was horrible. I didn’t even place in any of the tournaments,” Marr said. “But in junior high I got serious about wrestling.”
As a senior at Lake Forest High School in Wyoming, Minn., Marr was highly recruited. But Minnesota had an insider at work. Gordy Morgan, brother of Gophers assistant coach Marty Morgan, had been coaching Marr and gave him a gentle push toward the University.
Five years later, Marr continues to build on his reputation as a brawler as opposed to a technical wrestler. Brutal moves like the front head lock and the bow-and-arrow describe Marr’s style.
“He’s been a starter for four years, which just speaks for his ability,” Russell said. “Actually he spent the first three years wrestling at 134 before moving up to 149 this season. He made an unbelievably tough cut, but that’s the way Troy is. He’s willing to make a sacrifice for us, the team.”
Besides hunting and fishing, Marr knows a little bit about sacrifices, especially in his final season with the team. Ranked 13th in his weight class, Marr realizes the importance of working through mid-season bumps and bruises as he attempts to qualify for the NCAA championships for a third consecutive year.
“You kind of learn the routine, how the season is going to go,” Marr said. “Right now is kind of the grind time of our season. Our workouts remain intense. For the younger guys, this is all new.”
One of the newcomers is Marr’s younger brother, Mitch. With another brother still in high school, the Marr tradition could continue for a long time, as Mitch said the brothers “all just kind of learn from each other.”
“It’s just nice having him here,” the eldest Marr said. “It was frustrating when I couldn’t practice with him. Now I can kick him in the butt when he needs it.”
Mitch will have to fend for himself next season, as his older brother leaves wrestling behind. While Marr said life will “just be different without wrestling,” more time will be left for his hobbies.
Wild boar, like the one Marr killed last spring break in Florida, better beware.
“I kind of snuck up on it, got within like 25 yards and shot it,” Marr said. “Then it started to walk further into the glades and I followed it. I was scared because I thought it was going to start goring me or something. And then it ran off.”
The runaway boar was a companion to the one Marr actually shot, which he found moments later. Marr dragged away the slain animal, maintaining his image as a hunter on and off the mat.