Gus Sako has stepped up in a big way for the Virginia wrestling team this season. The freshman from Cleveland, Ohio, entered the year expecting to compete for a starting spot at 133 pounds but when starter Nick Nelson went down with an injury, Sako moved up a weight class to fill Nelson's big shoes. It has served as a great learning season for Sako, and he sat down this week to talk about his rookie year at UVa.
Describe your experiences so far here at the University of Virginia.
Sako: It has been exactly what I came here for. This school is challenging, of course, but that is one of the reasons I chose to come here. The coaches are great guys and my teammates are like brothers to me now. Everyone has done a great job of helping me out.
What made you decide to come here to Charlottesville?
Sako: As much as wrestling is important to me, I need to succeed in life as well. After visiting other schools in the Midwest, I really felt like UVa was the best fit for me both academically and athletically.
Tell us about moving up to 141 pounds this year.
Sako: In high school when I had to cut weight it made the sport more of a burden. I came in to school at 133, so when Coach Garland offered me the chance to go up to 141, I jumped all over it and was very excited. I can just focus on wrestling now.
How has being able to wrestle Nick (Nelson) helped your development on the mat?
Sako: Even when he was in his cast he was able to help me out. He was in the room, he was giving me critiques, and was always able to watch and tell me things I needed to work on. It definitely has been very beneficial to have somebody with his experience help me out.
Describe your high school experience in Ohio and how it helped prepare you for college wrestling
Sako: I have been in the big arena and have played in front of large crowds before. So, I feel like because I have come from someplace where wrestling is a big attraction, that when I get out there now, I am not really surprised. We had over 2000 people at one match in high school.
There are three guys from your high school (St. Edward) on the team now (Shawn Harris, Nick Sulzer). What is it that attracts all you guys here?
Sako: I think Coach (Garland) has done a good job of grabbing us early. After meeting Coach my sophomore year of high school, I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to become a Cavalier one day.
What do you plan on majoring in here?
Sako: I want to get into the Commerce School. I had good grades my first semester, but I think if I change a few things I can do even better.
Spot on Grounds: Overlooking the bookstore.
Wrestling moment: Winning state my sophomore year of high school.
Class: Human Reasoning
TV show: Two and a Half Men
Music Artist: Justin Moore
Author: J.R. Tolkien