Nov. 21, 2013
Blaise Butler has patiently waited his turn, but this year he has taken over the starting role for Virginia at 157 pounds. The native of Belvidere, Ill., spent two years alongside All-American Jedd Moore at 157, but after Moore graduated following the 2012-13 season, the spot is all Butler's. He has started strong this year, going 3-1 including a win over 11th-ranked Ian Miller of Kent State on Nov. 10 at the Hokie Duals. The win helped catapult Butler into one of the national rankings; he moved up to No. 13 in the WIN Magazine rankings this week.
Butler and the 15th-ranked Cavaliers start ACC play at 1 p.m. Sunday when they play host to No. 8 Virginia Tech at John Paul Jones Arena. Butler talks about the Virginia Tech match as well as many other things in the latest edition of On the Mat.
Why did you choose UVa?
Butler: The number one reason has to do with the people. I came down for my unofficial visit but didn't really fall in love with it until my official visit when everyone was here. I loved the team and loved the environment. The academics and everything else had some to do with it, but it was the people who really pulled me in.
Being from Illinois, why did you want to come south to wrestle at Virginia?
Butler: I wanted to try something new. I had been around Illinois a lot and was pretty set on going to the University of Illinois, but I really liked it when I came down here and thought `why not' and really just wanted an adventure.
You've gotten your first opportunity to start this year. What's it like finally being a starter?
Butler: It's been great. The guys above me and below me are really welcoming me into the lineup and encouraging me. I've had a couple tough matches already and have a few coming up. I'm trying to make the most of it.
How has training with All-American Jedd Moore for the last couple years helped you?
What were your first two years like with not wrestling as much as you'd like?
Butler: It was good and bad. It was a tough practice every time. We were both going for the spot and it made both of us better. In that sense it was great. Obviously I wanted to start last year, but I think I'm better for it and can't complain.
It was difficult. Coming into first year I was used to wrestling a lot of matches. Last year was just a lot of traveling (in open tournaments) and getting in here and there when Jedd was taking a break. It was really tough, especially come ACC's when I was doing nothing but drilling with the guys. It was tough but it made me hungry for success this year.
You wrestled in a few dual matches last year, including one where you took Virginia Tech's Jesse Dong down to the wire. How did the few matches you wrestled last year help you this year?
Butler: Matches like those (against Dong) made me realize that I'm right there with those guys and I don't need to take the time to ease into the season, I can just go right out there and get those wins.
Are you pleased with where you are right now?
Butler: I'm not upset with where I am, but there's always room for improvement. I'm looking to get there.
You guys have a big dual with Virginia Tech this weekend. Tell us about it.
Butler: It's huge for the team. I'm going out there looking to not only get the win, but get as many points as I can for our team.
What are some of your goals?
Butler: All-American. Top six. Nothing short of it. As a team, first things first, we need to get that ACC title. We want a ring this year."
Tell us about your major as well as your future plans outside of wrestling.
Butler: I'm majoring in Economics. I'd like to do some type of grad school, but I'm not entirely sure yet. I've been thinking sports management, so maybe law school. My mom might want me to be a lawyer, so I can see myself doing something in those fields.