Meyer sticks to basics to graduate early at Iowa

By Matt Levins For The Predicament

Alex Meyer (Iowa) in his match with Bo Jordan (Ohio St)

IOWA CITY — Alex Meyer knows all too well the tough grind of a college wrestling career, the hours spent in the practice room, the daily workouts, the long road trips.
Wrestling takes its toll on a person, physically and mentally.
Meyer embraced the challenge and succeeded, both on the mat and in the classroom. On the mat, Meyer was a two-time national qualifier, earning All-American honors as a junior, then falling one win short as a senior. He finished the season with a 26-9 record at 174 pounds and was 89-24 for his career with the Hawkeyes.
Meyer now only became a solid fixture in the Iowa lineup, he also became a fan favorite through the years. The former Southeast Polk High School state champion took the mat to rousing ovations every time he came out of the tunnel at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a match.
As proud as Meyer is of his accomplishments on the mat, he is equally proud of what he accomplished in the classroom.
Meyer graduated a semester early, walking the stage in December to receive his degrees in chemistry and human physiology. He was named to the Big Ten Winter Academic All-Conference team for having a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
Meyer was an All-American both on the mat and off for the Hawkeyes. While he didn’t quite end his wrestling career the way he hoped, he certainly accomplished everything and more that he wanted in the classroom.
“I didn’t end up where I wanted to on the mat, but I left everything out there. It was hard the way it turned out. I feel like I was a lot better wrestler than I was last year. I just didn’t have the All-American status to show for it,” Meyer said. “My schedule was kind of hard to figure out. I wanted to see how I could graduate in three years, but I wanted to make sure I could still wrestle, so I put in another year and I got through it in 4 1/2 years. I only had two classes in the fall semester. Both classes were hard, but they were interesting. This semester I took 12 credit hours of stuff that was interesting to me. It was stuff I didn’t really need, but stuff that will help me out down the road. It’s very important to take classes that you are interested in. That keeps you focused and really wanting to work hard.”
Meyer learned early on about the importance of balance in life. That includes wrestling and school work. There is a time and place for each, but Meyer knew that without good grades in the classroom, there would be no wrestling. They go hand-in-hand, but getting an education takes priority over everything else.
“Both help each other out. You can’t wrestle if you don’t keep your grades up in the classroom and you don’t wrestle well if you don’t keep up your grades in the classroom,” Meyer said. “You’ve got to take care of yourself as far as diet, sleep and recovery, mentally and physically. If you have early classes, you have to get to bed early. You can’t slack off in class. You have to make wise use of your time every minute of the day. Don’t put off your school work.
“There were only a couple times when it really became an issue with me, when I had to make up lab work and a couple of tests. But our teachers were very supportive and they were always willing to work with me. They never gave me a hard time about making up tests. Because I showed that I cared about their class, they had no problem with me when we would travel and miss class time and have to make up work.”
Meyer said that his freshman year, everyone was in study hall. But once their grade-point average was to a certain level, they were allowed out of study hall. It didn’t take him long to get out of study halls and learn the self-discipline it takes to succeed in life.
“When you get homework, you take care of it right away. You quickly realize that this is a step up from high school. You are taking college-level courses and you don’t have mom or dad their to make you do your homework. It’s all on you,” Meyer said. “You are better off if you get on board right away.
“It really helps if you take classes that you are really interested in. That makes it easier to go to class and easier to get your homework done. Taking a personal interest in your classes is a lot better than the alternative.”
Meyer’s hard work paid off in postseason academic accolades and graduating early. Meyer also had to find a balance between classes and wrestling practices. He found a way to make everything work, even if that meant private workouts on occasion.
Through it all, Meyer kept his priorities straight.
“My schedule was kind of hard to figure out. I had one degree where I would graduate in three years and another one would get me to the end of five years, but it wouldn’t fit in with practices. It turned out that getting a bachelors degree in chemistry got me through 4 1/2 years, which was perfect,” Meyer said. “Earning Academic All-Big Ten is a nice honor. A lot of people from Iowa are on the team and a lot of guys from the wrestling team. It’s always nice to get recognized. I held myself to a higher standard and stuck to it.”
Meyer’s wrestling days may be in the past, but he still has plenty of schoolwork ahead. He has applied to three medical schools and is awaiting acceptance. He hopes to be a surgeon one day, so his studies have only just begun.
“All the discipline I learned in wrestling really helped me become and adult. I know I will get in (to medical school) eventually. It might take me a year, but I’ll get in,” Meyer said. “I plan to stay here until I get accepted somewhere, so wrestling with definitely be an option for at least another year or whatever it takes. (Former Iowa wrestler Jake) Kadel is trying to help me get into medical school. That’s what he is doing right now. It’s nice to have friends who are taking the same path and working toward the same goal.”