Entering his fourth season with the Cougars, redshirt junior wrestler Tyshawn Williams stepped onto the mat with a summer of wrestling experience under his belt. Williams traveled the country to better both his mental and technical wrestling skills.
Before coming to SIUE, Williams was a 2015 National Prep Wrestling Championships champion at 145 pounds. In his 2015-2016 season at SIUE, he had a 14-8 record at 149 pounds wrestling unattached. He wrapped up his next season with an overall record of 17-13. Last season, Williams was an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division I championships but was eliminated after two losses. He won his weight class at the 2018 Southern Conference Championship as well as earned seed no. 3 at the SoCon Tournament.
Hoping to further his accomplishments, Williams kicked off his summer by traveling to Cornell University in late May to participate in the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club training camp along with his teammate redshirt sophomore Tommy Helton. This training allowed Williams to practice with other high-level athletes, including Cornell’s world champion Kyle Dake.
“It’s always awesome to be able to pick the brain of someone as successful as Kyle Dake,” Assistant Coach Eric Grajales said. “[Williams’s] experience there not only helped him technically, but also his mentality of learning about how a world champion thinks, how a world champion trains and how he goes about his everyday life rather than just his physical moves.”
This training helped prepare Williams for his second time at University Nationals at the University of Akron in early June. The stakes were high for this tournament, as winning it would place Williams among the nation’s most elite wrestlers.
A few days before departing for Ohio, Williams pulled a hamstring while training.
“I was a little upset at first because it hurt pretty bad and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to compete like that, especially because of the goals I had coming [out of] a good few weeks of training,” Williams said. “While training I felt like I was ready to go and then boom, something like that happened literally two or three days before we headed out to the tournament.”
Even with this setback, Williams still wrestled through a few matches before his coaches pulled him. This did not slow Williams down from devoting the rest of the summer to the sport.
“He did a good job of getting healthy again, but then the rest of his summer was more about him learning the technical aspect of the sport [and Williams teaching them],” Head Coach Jeremy Spates said.
Williams did this by traveling to teach local youth and train at three camps during June and July and then returning to his home of Maryland to train some more.
Coach Spates has recognized several improvements in Williams’s performance from the technical side, including a better knowledge of positions and ways to get bonus points. So far this season, Williams boasts winning three matches at the Lindenwood Open on Nov. 17,and he finished no. 3 in the Cougar Clash on Dec. 2. However, Williams cites his mental approach as one of his biggest changes.
“When I step out there on the mat, the first things that are going through my mind are to make sure that I’m staying aggressive and looking to score points,” Williams said. “I’m also looking for ways to control the pace.”
Williams looks forward to the Collegiate National tournament in March.
“It would mean a lot to me just to accomplish my ultimate goal [of being a national champion] and also it would mean a lot to me to make my coaches happy because they’ve put a lot of work and time into me and I like to give back to them by winning,” Williams said.
Williams will be back in action at 6 p.m. Friday against Old Dominion in Norfolk, Virginia wrestling 149-pound weight class.