On the Mat with Matt Bonson
Matt Bonson has made a big impact this season in the Virginia wrestling lineup. The redshirt freshman from Lewistown, Pa., has stepped into the 133-pound slot and thrived, going 14-5 with half of his wins coming by pins. He also has recorded two technical falls and a major decision. Bonson has several big wins this season, including two over ranked wrestlers a major decision against then-No. 11 Tyler Shinn of Oklahoma State and a decision over then-No. 11 Dan Mitcheff of Kent State. Last weekend, he came up with a key win for the Cavaliers over Virginia Tech’s Will Livingston. With just four dual meets remaining, Bonson and the Cavaliers have their sights set on a strong finish heading in the ACC and NCAA championships.
What have the keys been to your strong season thus far?
Bonson: It’s been hard work and the coaches pushing us. That has a lot to do with it. You just have to be willing to put the time into it to get better.
You redshirted last year, but still got to compete in 35 matches in open tournaments. How did that redshirt help you?
Bonson: I got a lot of needed experience. Last year I got to wrestle a lot of matches without any pressure, so it was basically a practice year and I got a lot of experience as far as knowing what to expect going into this year.
Tell us about your style of wrestling.
Bonson: It’s unorthodox and funky. I’ll put myself in danger in order to put my opponent in danger. I don’t think a lot of wrestlers are willing to do that most are kind of hesitant to do that. I like to go out and score as many points as I can.
Is that why the majority of your wins have resulted in falls, tech falls and major decisions?
Bonson: I think that has a lot to do with the outcomes of my matches. A lot of times you will see the top guys in the country, when they go head-to-head, their matches will be something like 5-4 or 3-2. A lot of my matches, with my style, there are a lot of points scored, so they can be 15-0 or it could be 11-10. But I’m always going for the pin too.
With your scores being higher, do you mind getting taken down?
Bonson: Of course, I don’t like getting taken down I’m not going to just give a guy a takedown. But it’s not the end of the world. You just have to score your points to match your opponent. As long as I’m scoring more points, it’s fine.
What did you learn in your first offseason here at UVa?
Bonson: You definitely have to put your time into the weight room. You definitely have wrestle you can’t take weeks off at a time. You have to constantly be training in some way, whether it be running, lifting, wrestling some kind of conditioning.
Team members can train two or three times a day and still have many other responsibilities outside of wrestling too. How do you balance your time between schoolwork, practice and personal life?
Bonson: The only personal life I have is basically within the wrestling team. There’s not much room for it. You get extra workouts in any time you can in between homework and regular practice. It’s tough but you have to find a way to get it all done.
What do you like to do outside of wrestling?
Bonson: I like to hunt and fish. I really enjoy spending time with my family. Being outdoors with my dad is probably my favorite thing to do.
Do you get to do that much anymore?
Bonson: During the summer we do a lot of fishing. At the beginning of the year when things aren’t as crazy, even though we are still practicing, you get to go home some and whenever I get to go home for a break, we usually do some hunting.
What other sports do you like to watch at UVa?
Bonson: I like all sports. I like to get to some of the football games. I haven’t gotten to go to too many events, but I want to catch some baseball games this spring.