BVU All-American from Oklahoma ignites his comeback season

            Oklahoma prep star Austin Mogg made a name for himself early in his collegiate career at Buena Vista University, qualifying for nationals and earning All-American status his freshman season.

            The 125-pounder posted a 33-10 record in 2009-10.

Mogg is rebounding from last year’s injury-plagued 19-8 campaign with sights again set high. A now-healthy Mogg started his junior season by placing in the first four tournaments, including championships at the Brute-Adidas Open and in front of a home crowd at the Buena Vista University Open.

At the BVU tourney, Mogg won his matches in dominating fashion, including two pins.

BVU head coach Sevond Cole talked about Mogg’s earlier championship performance on the university’s website. “Austin was on a mission. He has some high goals this year and he is well on his way to achieving them.”

Mogg conducts business on the mat in workmanlike fashion and appears unfazed when something isn’t working in a match. “I just try something else,” he said, by reaching into a large archive of moves that he has learned and practiced again and again.

Success is not new to Mogg, who started wrestling in his early elementary school years. Throughout high school and now in college he has dedicated himself to honing his wrestling skills while keeping his body in top condition.

“I liked that wrestling keeps you in shape and keeps you motivated for school. It keeps me from drinking and doing anything bad. It keeps you healthy and your mind clear. It lets you let out aggression. You have to keep in shape and be in top form all the time,” Mogg said.

And he likes the physical and mental challenges.

“It’s a brutal sport. It’s contact. And it’s all you. I’m out there by myself.”

Mogg started wrestling freestyle and Greco-Roman as a sixth grader. “Wrestling year round keeps your mind focused on wrestling,” said Mogg, who was a six-time freestyle and four-time Greco state champ. He also competed in baseball, track and cross country at El Reno High School.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to wrestle in college because I wanted to focus on academics,” said the National Honor Society alum, who graduated at the head of his class. He also was on the student council, performed in school plays and tutored young students.

“That’s why I came here (BVU). They emphasize academics,” the computer science major said.

Still, he recalls being unsure about his post-high school plans even on the drive from his home to Storm Lake, asking himself, ‘Why am I doing this’? His father had suggested he go to a vocational-technical school.

“I like doing things with my hands, building things. School is hard for me, but because I put the effort in it, I usually do well. I thought, if I go to voc-tech, later I’d be wondering what it would have been like in college,” he said.

Mogg brought to the BVU program stellar high school credentials. A four-time state placewinner, he won a championship his senior year following two runnerup finishes and a third place.

“I was ready to win in my senior year after being that close,” Mogg said. He predicted to an Oklahoma newspaper just before the finals that if he won he would “have butterfies in my tummy” in the awards ceremony. “It will be very emotional.”

Mogg kept telling himself during his championship match with his top-seeded opponent, “I can’t lose. I can’t lose.”

He had “no expectations at all” for his freshman season at BVU. “I thought I would win a couple of matches. I had a goal that I would try to wrestle my best.”

Mogg’s coaches had higher goals in mind for him. “They kept telling me that I would be an All-American if I kept doing what I was doing and kept putting forth the effort. They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” said Mogg, who proved his coaches’ prediction correct.

Mogg earned the trip to the national championships by being given a wild card spot by a vote of coaches at the conference championships.

“I guess the coaches saw something in me at conference and said this kid needs to go. It was something that I didn’t expect and I was really excited to go.”

He achieved All-American with a fifth place finish at the NCAA Division III National Championships.

“They (his coaches) saw the wrestler in me. They made me keep my weight down, made me run, made me work out,” Mogg said.

While appreciating his accomplishments, he doesn’t take his past success overly seriously. “I’ll never be cocky. When you’re cocky you make mistakes. You forget why you’re in it. I never boast about my accomplishments.”

Mogg considers conditioning and weight-training essential.

“I didn’t lift hardly at all in high school I started lifting my senior year. I got to college and everybody lifted. And everybody is big. Everybody is strong. You have to lift and you have to be strong. I’ve gained a lot of muscle.

“Upper body strength is important. I like to work on my legs more because you have to have that drive, that power to finish the shot,” he said.

“I left every day, sometimes twice a day. I run whenever I can.”

 Mogg is grateful for his experience as a wrestler. I’ve met a lot of people from around the country. I’m making friends everywhere,” he said. “Wrestling keeps me motivated for school.”

Describing what is required for success in wrestling, Mogg said, “It takes heart. You have to say to yourself, ‘I know I’m going to win.’ You have to keep up your work ethic. You have to work out, keep up your training.

“My greatest satisfaction is knowing I did my best. It’s not about the medals. Knowing that you have tried your hardest, that you have done everything to the top level of your performance, I think, gives you the greatest satisfaction.”

Text / Photos Chuck Signs