Valley View senior Brandon Judge went 3-0 with two pins and a decision to capture his third District 2 Class 2A individual championship. He also received Most Outstanding Wrestler honors for his efforts in the tournament.
Here is more from Judge’s Athlete of the Week interview.
Three people you’d like to have dinner with: Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather and Dan Gable (Olympic wrestler and gold medalist at the 1972 Munich Games).
Athletes you admire: Dan Gable, former Cornell University wrestler Kyle Dake and older brother Matt.
What do you admire about Dan Gable? His work ethic and his style of wrestling, because it’s a really aggressive style. I read a lot of books on him and the team that he’s coached and he led Iowa to about 20 national titles as a team. He’s just a very hard-working guy and he cares about his team and that’s big for me because I want to be a coach and a teacher after I get out of college.
Are there any other wrestlers who you look up to? My brother (Matt) and my coach Jake Arnone who just moved out to Colorado. He kind of helped me a lot with the mental aspect of wrestling, not worrying about matches and just having fun. I used to be a huge stress ball and he helped me get over that. And my brother Matt also helped me with that and having more fun with wrestling and that. Just rolling around with people and making it more of a fun thing than having something to be worried about every time I wrestled.
Other sports you play: I ran cross country my sophomore year.
Talk about your younger brother, Connor, and how he’s come through as a wrestler. Most of the time, wrestling isn’t his favorite sport because he’s a center for the Valley View football team. But watching him wrestle and being able to wrestle his style and that is awesome to me. Even in his semifinals match, watching him throw (Honesdale’s John Kuhns-Miller) and have his feet go over his head I was so excited. If you saw him celebrating on the mat, I was celebrating just as much off the mat as I was coaching him. I was just jumping up and down for him. It was awesome to be able to see him walk in the parade of champions with me.
Do you have any superstitions or rituals before a match? It’s a little weird, but when I’m listening to my music and that and I’m running around I mouth the words. I don’t like singing out loud because I don’t want people to think I’m really weird. Now, they actually understand my they do it because it helps me get ready for the match and just forget about everything.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met? John Cena. When we were kids we went to a mall and we went and saw John Cena and we got our pictures with him. I acually convinced these girls that were a grade below me who were friends with my brother that he was our uncle. They believed me for like a week until Connor was like, ‘What are you talking about? That’s not our uncle.’
What do you think of how your season has gone so far? I’d say it’s gone pretty well. I didn’t get to wrestle at leagues because I busted a bursa sac in my knee. That kind of sucked. I wasn’t able to watch Connor wrestle either, but once Christmas came around, I wrestled at the Kiwanis (Tournament) and it’s been going pretty well.
What did you have to do to come back from that injury? Drain it. I doctor said I also sprained my (lateral collateral ligament) a little bit so I just had to do stretches and that just to keep it good. Now, it’s perfect. It’s a normal knee now.
You had to face a former district champ in Bob Long and this year’s Lackawanna League champ Joe Hester en route to your title. How tough was your weight class at districts? Nobody really talked to me about how tough it was. I don’t really like to look at the bracket and that. My coaches just tell me who I’ve got to wrestle and my bout number and I just go out there and wrestle the best I could. But after it, people were telling me that my bracket was definitely the hardest one. It was either me or Connor who was going to get the (Outstanding Wrestler) if he beat Cole (Fuller) so I guess you could say it was a pretty hard bracket.
What was it like after you won your third district and then all of a sudden someone grabs the mic and said you earned Most Outstanding Wrestler? We were sitting in the chairs for the pictures with all the district champs. I was in middle, and they were like, ‘Your name just got called for the (Outstanding Wrestler)’ and I was like, “What do you mean?’ I didn’t think I was going to get that. Most of the time it goes to somebody else like my brother got it his senior year and other kids got it last year and the year before. I never thought I’d get it so it’s pretty cool to hear your name called for the (Outstanding Wrestler).
Last year you finished sixth at regionals. What is different for you entering this tournament this season? The mindset of just going out there and having fun because it’s my last time. If I make it, I won districts three times and I went to regionals four times so it’s a great career and I’m going to a great college. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if I lose this upcoming week. I’m just going in there to have a good time and wrestle with my brother maybe the last time.
Where are you going to college? Ithaca College
Why did you choose there? One, because of the wrestling. They’re like the No. 3 program in the country for Division III, and because of the academics. Their teaching program is pretty good like for social studies and for Spanish it’s a pretty good program. It’s also right next to Cornell and the Division I and Division III wrestlers mix all the time. Some days they have this practice up at this club and you could go up there and wrestle with Cornell guys if you want to.
What makes you want to be a teacher or a coach? It was kind of this whole situation in my sixth grade year I was having a rough time because my grandpa died. We were having a party one day and I was really upset and ran out of the classroom and went to my locker and a teacher came out after me and he kind of talked me down and said it was OK and didn’t want me to be sad. So, I want to be able to do that with another kid and just help somebody out if they need it. And be able to teach kids with stuff that I love to do. Like history I love so if I could help a kid understand history or make a kid love history as much as I do. I’d love to do that.
What do you like about wrestling? The ability to lose yourself in wrestling itself. If I could just go in the room all day, I’d be happy. Just being able to go in there and just wrestle with somebody else and just lose track on time and just have a good time doing it. That’s what it’s all about is just having fun.
How did you get into wrestling? When we moved to Valley View, because we used to live in Carbondale and we went to LaSalle Academy for kindergarten. Then I moved to Valley View for first grade and second grade came around and we went for football and then winter came and my brother Matt was actually going to go and do basketball. I did basketball at LaSalle and it didn’t really work out well. And then we went and signed up for wrestling it was just like, ‘Oh, WWE. Might as well try it.’ So, we went out and we tried it. It was different and I liked it and we actaully ended up going to Valley View’s little kids club to Abington’s and that’s really where it took off is just when we went up to Abington and we wrestled with all those guys. They kind of made it like a nice big family and it was awesome and that’s where I got into it.
Do you have any hobbies? I like to play Xbox. I like to go running just to clear my head and just do it for fun. People look at me weird when I say that, but it’s just something I like to do. And I love lifting with my dad.
Do you watch any TV? Narcos. Narcos is a great show.
Do you have a favorite movie? Warrior. We watched that my freshman year before districts. It was awesome. That’s one of my favorite movies ever.
Favorite sports teams: The Bears, the Phillies. My aunt’s kind of a crazy Phillies fan. For college wrestling, I like to follow Cornell just because I go up there a lot.