Senior Spotlight: Mason Cleveland, New Hampton
When did you start wrestling? Who introduced you to the sport?
I started wrestling when I was in kindergarten, maybe even before that. My dad introduced me to the sport.
Do you have any family who wrestled before you? How did they do?
Yes, my dad wrestled when he was in high school as well as both of my uncles. One of my uncles was a state champ his senior year from New Hampton. He then went on to wrestle at Wartburg. My brother also wrestled and was a runner-up at the state tournament his sophomore year and placed 3rd his senior year. He currently wrestles at Wartburg.
Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?
I think I caught on to wrestling very quickly. Recently my family and I came across some old tapes of me when I was little and every tape was of me pinning a kid in either a headlock or cradle.
What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?
I wrestled at what once was Elite Takedown Club but now is the Immortal Athletics wrestling club (IAWC). My experience at Elite was awesome. I was one of the “OGs” who helped grow that club along with Michael Blockhus, Noah Fye, Connor Cleveland, and many other studs.
What are a couple memorable moments from youth wrestling?
One memorable moment from my youth was placing fourth at the AAU state tournament. Another memorable moment was watching Noah Fye beat Brody Teske his 8th grade year in the AAU state finals. That ended up being Teske’s last loss until high school competition when he was beaten by Alex Thomsen his senior year.
How did you finish at state tournaments in youth?
I only placed once at the state tournament and that was 4th place.
What are some of your more memorable moments from high school wrestling?
Winning Back to Back dual team state championships and then placing 5th as a senior to cap off my career.
How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the HS level?
My junior year was bad. My first round draw was the one seed who went on to win the tournament. I ended up not placing. My senior year I placed 5th and knocked off the two seed in the quarters who was undefeated going into the tournament.
Who were your wrestling heroes growing up?
My heroes were Matt Paulus, Jordan Roths, and Leighton Gaul. Matt is currently the head coach now. I remember watching those guys at the state tournament and wanting to be just like them.
Was there ever a point in your career where you noticed yourself jumping levels and making huge strides?
I think once I turned the corner was directly after 8th grade. I started winning big time matches and found that I could compete against top level kids.
Who were some of your toughest competitors in HS?
I had a great match with Ben Monroe. Ended up beating him by a couple points. Kaden Anderlik beat me about 15 times in high school. Other than that I never really felt like out matched at all.
What are your wrestling goals now that you are moving on from high school?
Honestly I don’t have any wrestling goals. I am actually playing baseball in college at Wartburg.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
I would say my wrestling style is dangerous. I love putting kids away quick and will put someone on their head if I have to.
After wrestling you, a guy once told me that you were the strongest person they ever wrestled. And this was coming from a kid who is known for his own strength. Have you heard this about yourself before?
Lol, yeah. Coach Hemann always preached to me how strong I am even when he wrestled me. I lifted a lot as a freshman, sophomore, and junior but now I just don’t really lift anymore. I think I just know how to use my strength which most people find hard to do in wrestling.
How nice is it having a cool wrestling fan base like the ones in New Hampton?
It is honestly awesome! Everyone just enjoys watching us put on a show. They show up and cheer loud which is all we can ask for. We have a lot of super fans out there which is awesome that they are still around. Two being my Grandpa and Grandma and then also Tom Straw (Gooter as some call him). Everyone is awesome.
Do you have any regrets from wrestling or did you leave it all out there?
I do have a lot of regrets. One is not trying hard enough to keep my starting spot my freshman year. I also think that I could’ve made the state tournament more than twice but tried taking the easy way out because I was tired of cutting weight.
What other sports do you play and how have you done at them?
I play baseball and football. I’m a three year starter in baseball with multiple honors. I am a two year starter in football with multiple honors as well.
What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling?
Some of my hobbies include fishing, playing video games, bowling, and hanging with my buddies.
What is some of the best advice you ever received?
Don’t take things for granted. I’m going to miss a lot of things about wrestling that I probably took for granted.
Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers?
Wrestling is a sport that will help you in multiple ways. It will help you in football, baseball by using your hips, your mentality, when at your job and you feel tired. Stick with it and you will see gains in multiple facets of your life.
What is your favorite style of wrestling? Folkstyle, Freestyle or Greco?
I enjoy both Greco and freestyle but would probably say that folk style is my favorite style just because I’ve spent most of my time with that style.
Who were some of the most influential coaches you worked with?
Nick Hemann, Matt Paulus
What are your college plans? Is wrestling in your future whether it be competing or coaching?
I plan on majoring in Exercise Science at Wartburg and eventually become a chiropractor. I also am playing baseball at Wartburg. Coaching is always an option for me and my first choice would be a wrestling coach.
What is the future outlook for New Hampton wrestling?
I think that that future of wrestling is still bright. We have a couple great wrestlers still in the program that are going to make some noises down at the state tournament next year.