How have you changed as a wrestler throughout
your time here at Pitt? Thomusseit: "As a freshman, I remember being nervous. I come
from a small town so Pittsburgh was a big city to me. To be honest, it was a
bit a culture shock. I was extremely nervous even though I had an older brother
at Pitt here with me. I quickly learned confidence is the key to winning. I did
not have the confidence when I first came to Pitt. Now, when I go into a match,
I expect to win. As a freshman you are a little timid, because it's a big jump
from high school wrestling to college wrestling. If you can overcome that and
gain some confidence in the process - it will help you become a better
"Coach Peters is not only a great coach from technical aspects, but he
also focuses on the individual person. He helps you not only achieve on the
mat, but off the mat. Coach Peters has helped me become the person I am today.
"After five years of being here - you learn so much throughout the process
without even realizing it. When I look back now, I really can see how far
I have come."
How have you managed to balance life as a student and a Division I wrestler
here at Pitt? Thomusseit: "It's difficult to be a student and an athlete,
but it's also very doable. I was lucky enough to get five years at Pitt and
spread out my education. I also stayed over the summer to take classes. I never
had an overload of credits so that definitely helped. The academics comes with
being a division I athlete and if you want to do it then you have to commit
It's your final year and you have experience a lot of great success on the
mat, but name your best moment as a Pitt wrestler?
Thomusseit: "Definitely winning the first ACC championship is
going to stick out the most, because it was a whole team effort. It shows the
hard work paid off and the coaches are doing good things here at Pitt. The
wrestling program is being run the right way and we are heading in the right
Although, I may be getting ahead of myself, I haven't had success at Nationals
so if I could do that this year for myself, the coaches and for Pitt that would
mean a lot. Pitt has done so much for me, and I have always wanted to give
something back such as winning a national title for Pittsburgh. It's very
possible that my favorite moment has not happened yet.
Q: How have you grown as a wrestler from freshman year until
now at the University Pittsburgh?
Wilps: "When I came to Pitt as a freshman, I always had that
basic hard work mentality. My way of thinking was simple, grind it out and get
better every day. But starting last year, I finally found a good balance
between being relaxed and working hard."
"The mentality you need to have if you want to excel in
almost anything is finding that unique balance. In my opinion, you can only improve
when you are feeling more relaxed--instead of being too hard on yourself, or
focusing on the wrong things. It's important to not forget about the big
picture and simply focus on getting better."
"Between last year and this year, I have had a more open mind
at getting better in wrestling. Now, I try to come in and have more fun with
practices. It now creates an environment where I can learn and get better at
Q: Stepping away from the wrestling mat, how have you grown
as a student-athlete over the past four years?
Wilps:"I have been pretty consistent with my school work throughout
college. However, it was still a transition from high school to college. As a
freshman, I told myself it was time to really crack down and I had to focus on
"I have definitely matured in the classroom with my test
taking abilities and in critical thinking. Now, I'm able to sift through the
information a lot quicker, which I owe to prepping for the MCAT."
Q: How has Pitt's Academic Support helped you over the
years? Specifically, how did they assist in preparing you for something as big
as the MCAT?
Wilps:"As far as the intangibles, there is amazing support here at
Pitt. They can't force you to study because that's something you have to do on
your own, but the help is there if you want it. The mentality of Pitt's
Academic Support--if you want to do well then they will be right there and take
you as far as you need to go."
"It's not as if, they only focus on getting their athletes
through college so they can participate in your sports. They take it a step
further, if they notice if a person is really determined to do something then
they want to help you achieve the goal."
Q: Do you reflect on your earlier years as an athlete? Right
now, if you stepped back to look at the process of how you became the wrestler
you are today, what would you have to say about that journey?
Wilps:"It was definitely a slow process, sometimes you improve,
plateau or even decline. There's definitely not a clear path in my improvement."
"In terms of wrestling, I'm sure there are moments I would
look back on and laugh at, but in terms of my approach I would never say my
head was in the wrong place or that I would have done things differently.
"I have a little brother on the team, Noah Wilps, and he is
obviously different than me, but I can also see the similarities and where he's
improving in wrestling. It's interesting to see how he deals with the stresses
of school and being a student-athlete. It's not far off from how I dealt with
it as a freshman."
"Obviously, if I wrestled my freshman year self today, I
would beat myself pretty bad."