Getting Back On Top

Updated: July 7, 2014

Coon’s roller-coaster season has the Michigan star on the upswing again! 

A day after Adam Coon won both the freestyle and Greco-Roman championships in the Junior World Team Trials, May 30, in Madison, Wisc., the heavyweight chose to stick around the Alliant Energy Center for one more task:

Work out with World medalist Tervel Dlagnev.

“He called my coach (Sean) Bormet and said he needed a workout partner,” said Coon, who spent an hour training hard with Dlagnev in the practice area of the Alliant Center, shortly before Dlagnev defeated Zach Rey to clinch his fifth World/Olympic Team membership on the Senior level.

“I’m a couple steps below where he is,” Coon said. “He was kicking the snot out of me back there.”

Coon’s foes in the Junior World Trials — Brooks Black in freestyle and Sam Stoll in Greco — could have said the same thing about Coon after the native of Fowlerville, Mich., pinned each of those big men to help Coon qualify for both styles in this August’s Junior Worlds in Croatia.

But Coon also knows plenty about the highs and lows of wrestling, especially this past winter when the former four-time state of Michigan champion not only earned the starting spot for the Michigan Wolverines as a true freshman and was ranked as high as No. 1 in the nation … only to struggle in the post-season when the Wolverine failed to place in this past year’s NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City.

“The past year was a roller-coaster ride, up and down. It definitely had its ups and downs,” said Coon, who points to the 2013 Junior World Trials, where he lost in the finals of both styles to Stoll.

“Starting at (the 2013 Trials) where I went 0-4, which was heart-breaking at the time, that gave me a push going into the college season.”

After earning the starting spot for head coach Joe McFarland in Ann Arbor, Coon made those bleeding Maize and Blue blood proud.

Before New Year’s Day, Coon defeated several of the nation’s higher-ranked heavyweights to win the Las Vegas Invitational (including eventual NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State) and the Midlands (Iowa’s two-time All-American Bobby Telford), before he defeated Minnesota’s 2012 and ‘13 champion Anthony Nelson and helped the Wolverines hand the Gophers their only dual loss of the season.

That overtime win over Nelson raised Coon’s record to 23-0.

“I had great workout partners, great coaches who pushed me to become the best that I could,” said Coon.

“I had a great beginning of the college season, but it didn’t quite end the way I wanted.”

Sadly for Coon, the young Wolverine lost five of his last 14 rookie-season matches and four of those setbacks came in the postseason: first against Nelson and Ohio State’s Nick Tavanello at the Big Tens where he was seeded No. 1 (but settled for ninth place) … and two weeks later at the NCAAs. In Oklahoma City, Coon split four matches — defeating Edinboro’s Ernest James and Oklahoma’s Ross Larson and losing to Telford and Ohio’s Jeremy Johnson — as a No. 4 seed and failed to place.

Finishing 32-5 overall, Coon still rated his freshman season as “positive.”

“I wrestled some great, great athletes out there like Tony Nelson and Nick Gwiazdowski and Bobby Telford,” Coon said. “To be able to come in as a freshman and wrestle against them was a great thing to further my wrestling and to be a better wrestler. (Those losses) gave me a kick in the pants to keep going again.”

Coon said he lacked one thing in this year’s post-season.

“Experience,” he said. “It’s a whole new season when you get in the post-season. Your conference tournament and the NCAAs require a lot of experience and the whole season is a long grind. I made it through the grind but I didn’t have the ‘umph’ to finish the end of the season.”

Coon is unsure if he will redshirt any of the upcoming college seasons … and if he will wrestle both styles at this summer’s Junior Worlds.

“I want to thank USA Wrestling and everyone who gave me the opportunity to wrestle,” Coon said. “There aren’t many who get to wrestle both and USA Wrestling set it up perfectly where I could bounce back between matches.”

The only man who defeated Coon in Madison in late May saw plenty of potential in Coon.

“I wanted to be in a war before I came out here to battle,” Dlagnev said. “I thought he could give it to me. He stayed in his position and fought hard. He held his own … after wrestling in a tournament one day earlier. His emotions were peaked.”

But don’t expect Coon to be big-headed even if he has success at the Junior Worlds. He already knows plenty about ups and downs.”