Wrestling: Harger challenges himself on and off the mat

Josh Walfish, Reporter

As Northwestern takes a break from Big Ten play to head to South Dakota State, The Daily spoke with Pierce Harger about his busy life at NU.

The redshirt sophomore is 20-5 so far this season at the 165-pound weight class and is ranked 17th in the latest coaches rankings released Thursday. As a freshman, Harger went 22-14 and qualified for the NCAA Championships where he went 1-2.

The Loveland, Ohio, native opened up about what’s on his iPod, his favorite moment at NU and the difficulties of  being both a Division I athlete and an industrial engineering student.

The Daily Northwestern: Do you have any pre-match rituals?

Pierce Harger: I just like to tune everything out for a little bit. Around when (Pat) Greco or Dylan (Marriott) is up, I’ll go sit on the back bleachers put my headphones in and kind of tune the crowd out to get into my thoughts, so as soon as the whistle blows for my match, I’m already in my mode, in my game already, so I don’t have to transition into a slap in the face as soon as the match starts.

The Daily: What would I find on your iPod right now?

Harger: Before I wrestle I listen to a lot of dubstep, Skrillex-type of stuff. If you take me out of the serious environment I’ll listen to anything, indie music, rap music. You name it, it’s probably on my iPod.

The Daily: Talk about balancing being an engineer with being a Division I athlete.

Harger: It’s tough, but I definitely asked for it, though. I chose Northwestern in the first place for academics and athletics because both are great here. The thing that sums it up the most is last year before NCAAs started on Thursday, on Wednesday night I had three exams to take in my hotel room while getting down to weight and trying to prepare for the toughest competition I’ve been in to date.

The Daily: Where’s your favorite place to study on campus?

Harger: I like my room a lot because I can put on music and do my own thing.

The Daily: Your brother Kyle wrestled at Maryland. What was the biggest piece of advice he gave you before you came here?

Harger: He just told me to be ready and be prepared. He’s always been a big supporter of mine. After every match, he’s texting me, “Nice job,” and things like that. I don’t know if he’s given me advice but definitely support through every weekend and every match.

The Daily: How would your teammates describe you?

Harger: Kind of goofy. I try to put on a hard exterior sometimes in a funny way, but I think I’m pretty laid back.

The Daily: What’s your favorite part about NU?

Harger: Probably the guys on the team. We face a lot of difficult situations every week with wrestling – tough practices, tough matches, classes are hard every single day, tests are hard – and (this is) one place where you can kind of always have comfort or have relaxation because any of the guys on the team are willing to joke around.

The Daily: What’s been your favorite moment on the mat?

Harger: At Big Tens last year after I pinned my kid in my go-to match for NCAAs, I got up an looked at the corner and (assistant coach Matt Storniolo) was over there pointing at me. As a young redshirt freshman, it was exciting for sure.