On the Mat with Brent Jones
Brent Jones has had a great career at Virginia. He boasts 102 career wins – fourth most in Virginia history – and is the school’s all-time leader in pins with 42. Saturday, the fifth-year senior will compete in his final ACC Championships and will look to match his performance at ACC last year, when he was named the Championships’ Most Outstanding Wrestler after winning the 197-pound title. He spoke with VirginiaSports.com about the big weekend and winding down his successful college career.
How do you possibly top your performance at ACCs last year?
Jones: I don’t think you can ever stop getting better. You can always build on what you did the previous year. I didn’t have the greatest of tournaments last year. I had to win my first match in overtime, so I have to be better off the get-go. I always get better as the tournament progresses. I can’t overlook anyone. I need to come in and set the bar higher for this tournament.
Are you happy with where you’re at right now?
Jones: Right now, I am pretty happy. We’re training hard and my body feels really good. Everything is kind of falling into place for the postseason. We can always rely on Coach Garland to get us ready for the postseason.
Are you pleased with where the team stands right now?
Jones: We’re in a good position right now. Every year the team has had some injuries – last year we didn’t even wrestle anyone in the 125-pound class and we lost the team title by two points, essentially one match. It doesn’t matter who’s hurt and who’s not, you just have to go out there with all your heart. If everyone does that, we’re going to have a good team effort. We’re ready to roll in there.
As a veteran of several ACC Championships, what do you tell a young guy like Mike Salopek who is going into his first ACC Championship?
Jones: I’ve been here for awhile, so I was here when there was a lot of pressure on you because you had to win the tournament or you wouldn’t qualify for nationals. Now with the new system, you already know how many slots per weight class will qualify for NCAAs, and you have others who will earn wild cards. So the pressure is off. This is our tournament to win. We don’t have any pressure.
You guys are going in as underdogs too.
Jones: It’s totally fine. Personally, I don’t look at the rankings and I don’t really believe in them. All that matters is what happens in March when it comes down to the postseason. Our team is looking good and has peaked at the right time the last few years. We just need to get a few more points.
You have also are competing at a solid weight class at 197 pounds – talk about the competition there.
Jones: Every year I’ve had a solid weight class. Even as a conference we get overlooked there. I’ve battled these guys for four or five years now. We know each other inside and out. It just comes down to wrestling them on that day.
This is your last go-around. What are your emotions as your college career winds down?
Jones: It’s kind of tough, but for me it doesn’t come quite as tough because I want to keep wrestling after this. The last time suiting up for Virginia will be a little emotional. It’s a big family, but we’re a tight-knit group and we’ll carry this group on forever. It will be tough not to be wrestling here and competing, but it will be nice to still be around these guys.
Food: Chicken fettuccine alfredo
Spot on Grounds: The exercise phys laboratory
Wrestling Memory: University World Championships
Class: Death and Dying – it’s an awesome class with an awesome teacher
TV Show: Entourage or Lost
Sports Teams: Washington Redskins and Capitals, Boston Red Sox and Celtics
Celebrity: Jennifer Aniston