Entering this season with a fresh feeling following some time off spent in his native sunny state of California, junior Josh Rodriguez was ready to get back down to business in order to have a season full of success.
Though he hails from Guadalupe, California, Rodriguez has found a new home in the tundra we know as Fargo, N.D. Recently earning his third Bison Open championship, Rodriguez is now looking at a record of 9-1 this season.
Last season, Rodriguez finished 20-8, and beat seven ranked opponents. This season he hopes to build off that success.
His success is something that doesn’t surprise head coach Roger Kish.
“Take a guy like Josh, and I think his qualities are very hard to duplicate,” Kish said. “He’s an extremely competitive kid and you partner that with his wrestling ability and natural athleticism, and you got something pretty spectacular there.”
Though many question how it’s possible for a Californian to thrive despite the cold conditions in Fargo, Rodriguez explained he knew it was a good fit for him — especially when concerning wrestling.
“It’s far from home,” he explained. “But I knew my coaches were good, and I felt comfortable here and enjoyed the visit.” Regarding the weather, he added: “When I came on my recruiting trip it was during the spring so I didn’t really get a good feel for it. But I knew what I was getting myself into, and it’s part of the sacrifice.”
Crucial to the success of all the student-athletes is the help they receive from some of their greatest friends — their teammates.
No one better understands what the wrestlers go through during their season (including cutting weight, grueling practices, and keeping up with their rigorous class schedules) better than their fellow wrestlers.
“It’s a lot of fun being with the team all the time working out, hanging out outside of practice and studying together,” teammate Nick O’Brien said. “It’s just a big group of friends who are always working together, staying together and striving for greatness together.”
A redshirt freshman from Minnesota, O’Brien explained how older, more experienced wrestlers like Rodriguez can help younger teammates on and off the mat.
“Josh is very, very, good and talented, and any little bits and tips he can give me have always helped me,” O’Brien said. “He’s always go, go, go in matches and practices and just pouring it on people. You just wanna replicate it yourself, but it takes a lot of work and practice to get it down.”
Although not everyone can handle the busy life of a student-athlete, Rodriguez seems to have things under control.
“You’re being held at a higher standard, and you gotta live up to it,” Rodriguez said. “You can’t slack off. As a student-athlete, you have to be good in the classroom, and people look up to you as an athlete.”
Understanding that all aspects of his job as a student-athlete are important, Rodriguez makes it a priority to excel in each part of his life — and his coaches and teammates notice and applaud him for it.
“He is kind of a quiet leader, he’s not as verbal as you would think he could be, but everything he does he does right: in the classroom, on the wrestling mat, in his personal life; he just does all the right things, and his success proves that,” Kish explained. “Our guys not only get to witness what he does on a daily basis, but they get to witness his success.
“When you got a guy with success like that, you know they’re doing something right.”
Rodriguez has clearly dedicated a meaningful portion of his life to wrestling; he knows that the sport has greatly affected other areas of his life as well.
“Wrestling carries into my personal life by just having a good attitude or mentality of life,” Rodriguez added. “When something comes hard at me I know how to approach it. I don’t just fall over for it. I’m a harder worker now.”