Travis Himmelman was a three-time 4A state wrestling champion and a 172-match winner in his four years at Conifer High School. But the former Lobo redshirted his first season at the University of Northern Colorado after having knee surgery in October to repair a torn meniscus. The High Timber Times’ Michael Hicks recently caught up with Himmelman to speak about his first year at UNC.
1. How frustrating was it to redshirt your first season at the University of Northern Colorado?
“It was frustrating, (but) I wanted to redshirt the first year just to get acclimated to the college wrestling lifestyle. It was a huge change from high school, a lot faster. Not being allowed to compete I really missed wrestling. I was always at practice helping the team out, lifting and working out every chance I got. I think it was the best thing to happen for me.”
2. What was the competition like in the wrestling room between you and sophomore Justin Gonzales, a fellow 149-pounder?
“I’ve still go to put weight on to wrestle at 149, but I feel pretty confident I could get that starting job. (Justin) might move up a weight there if that’s what is best for the team.”
3. You recently placed third at the 2012 University Greco-Roman Nationals at 66 kilograms (145.5 pounds) to qualify for the World Team Trials on Aug. 17-19 in Colorado Springs. What was that experience like?
“It was awesome. It was good after missing an entire year. I went down to the Olympic Training Center for a couple of weeks. It was a good chance and helped me to prepare. It’s just a higher pace than high school.”
4. Even though you were a two-time Greco-Roman All-American in high school, considering most of the wrestling we saw you in was freestyle, where wrestlers can use and grab their opponents’ legs, is it a tough transition?
“It can be a difficult time. It takes a couple of weeks to adapt to the different style. But each (style) helps with the other. Whether I wrestle Greco Roman and it helps my upper body and my throws or freestyle, which helps me with my feet, they all compliment each other. It’s a big transition. It takes a couple of weeks to get in the mindset of the different sport.”
5. What are your hopes as you prepare for your redshirt freshman season with the University of Northern Colorado Bears?
“I want to be All-America in the national tournament. I want to go out there and compete, help my team. As a team, I wan to win the conference. Those are my big goals.”