Erisman spends summer getting physical
Disappointment hit Neil Erisman, Jr. hard last March when his wrestling season ended with a controversial 3-1 overtime loss to Colby's Eric Luedke in the Kansas 4A championship match.
The De Soto High School freshman saw his perfect record and the chance to stand atop the medal platform come crashing down when he was called for stalling with seconds left in regulation. Luedke was awarded a point to tie the match at 1-1 and send it into overtime where the Colby senior scored on a takedown to get the win.
It didn't take Erisman long, however, to chisel away at the memory of that loss and the bad taste that came with it.
"The loss really motivated me," Erisman said of the only blemish on his record last year. "I want to make sure that another match doesn't come down to a stalling call again. I don't want it to come down to a call for me to lose."
The memory of that loss may have haunted Erisman longer had it not been for the support of his summer AAU coach Tom Peterman.
"I just tried to put it in perspective," Peterman said. "If you think of the guys that have always done well at world (championships), a lot of them were three-time champions. Maybe it will keep him hungry."
Erisman soon realized that he would have to get more physical if he wanted to keep himself out of that same predicament. So he and Peterman installed a fool proof plan to make him meaner, faster and tougher.
For starters, Peterman brought in Division 1 wrestlers for Erisman to learn from and match skills with.
"It was amazing all of the compliments Neil was getting from the college guys," Peterman said. "They talked about how he was much further along than they were at his age. They'd show him something, and he'd pick it up just like that."
The physical style of college wrestling Erisman learned from Sean Bunch (Edinborough College), Chris McCormick (Missouri), Joe Johnson (Iowa) and Zach Roberson (Iowa State), taught him the art of hand fighting.
"I learned a lot from those guys," Erisman said. "They wrestle totally different. I realized I would have to get more physical. I needed to be meaner, faster and tougher. I needed to push the other guy harder in order to wear him out more."
Peterman knew he had to seize the opportunity to work on Erisman's hand fighting as well. One of the few wrestling skills Erisman lacked.
"He was always a little kid with the strength he needed, but didn't know how to use it," Peterman said. "He's beginning to mature both physically and mentally now."
Peterman's master plan for Erisman is to have him peak at the individual National Championships in Fargo, N.D. (July 18-24). All of his training is geared toward peaking at that time.
Erisman will wrestle in the cadet division at either 145 or 152 pounds.
Before the grand finale, Erisman is scheduled to wrestle June 25 through 29 at the Junior Duals in Enid, Oklahoma with the Kansas Junior National Team.
He will then take part in the National Team Camp from July 13-19 in Chanute.
Once Erisman arrives in Fargo, he will be considered one of the favorites. He finished seventh or eighth there last summer and is the only returning wrestler to place in his division.
"I think he has an excellent shot to win nationals," Peterman said. "A lot of things will have to fall in place for that to happen. But he definitely has the talent."