Editor’s note: Andrew Simonson took part in the Iowa Summer Journalism Workshop recently at the University of Iowa. He is from Cornelius, N.C.
By Andrew Simonson, SouthLake Christian Academy senior
IOWA CITY — The saying goes every journey begins with a small step.
That small step can lead to more steps and, after showing continued determination to keep taking those steps, the mountaintop can be reached.
But what happens when you finally reach the top after all those years of work?
For former Iowa wrestler Brandon Sorensen, the answer is simple. Find another mountain to climb.
Sorensen has been wrestling for as long as he can remember. In high school, he decided to focus solely on becoming a better wrestler and that decision worked out well — winning four state titles and tying the record for most career wins in Iowa high school history. At Iowa, Sorensen was a four-time All-American, finishing his career with 127 wins.
It is a long list of achievements, but it still is not enough.
Two months after Sorensen’s graduation, he still is in the training room — lifting weights, putting in work on the mat, getting ready for the next step.
He doesn’t know any different. It is what he has done his entire career.
“With a lot of people, it just makes or breaks you, you know?” he said of the intense training. “If you’re not doing anything, these guys, they start going backwards, you’re training all summer, making big jumps, and it’s huge.”
Sorensen said “Tokyo is the goal,” referring to the 2020 Summer Olympics, and his always-working mantra applies to that as much as his previous achievements as a Hawkeye.
Sorensen will be around Iowa City for the foreseeable future. He will join the Hawkeye Wrestling Club this fall. Coached by former Hawkeye great Mark Perry, the goal is to win world championships and Olympic gold.
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Sorensen is quick to acknowledge the impact Perry, Iowa head coach Tom Brands and associate head coach Terry Brands have had on his career so far.
“They’ve got the guys that are the most technical in the sport here,” he said of the entire program. “They’ve got Olympic champs, Olympic bronze medalists, a couple-time world champs, and they know what they’re doing.
“It’s not just technique, they develop you mentally, they push you past your limits and continue to grow ... It’s been awesome.”
This kind of impact is one that has inspired Sorensen to pay it forward. In April, he accepted a position on the Eastern Iowa Wrestling Club coaching staff. He hopes to use this to not only teach technique and how to be a better wrestler, but to help expand the sport and inspire young athlete to become better people.
“It’s real rewarding,” he said. “You know, you’re used to seeing it through one side where you’re just competing, and now you’re seeing it from the corner. You’re watching the kids compete and you get to see all the development and see how much they’ve grown. It’s not just about winning, it’s about developing the kids and making them into better young men.”
When Sorensen talks about coaching, it almost feels like this is a new avenue for him to invest his time and see tangible benefits, like wrestling has been for so long.