This week's River Bank & Trust Athlete of the Week is Auburn High's Tyler Tanaka, a senior on the Tigers' wrestling team.
Auburn Villager: How did you get your start wrestling?
Tyler Tanaka: My dad wrestled in high school, and he told me in seventh grade, 'Hey, you should come try this sport. I think it will be a lot of fun for you.' And I just went on to continue with it because I really enjoyed it.
AV: What do you enjoy about it?
TT: I like that it's s sport where you can be competing against people around your size instead of how, like in football, you could be against someone super-huge. And so it gives more opportunity for the smaller people.
AV: What weight class to you compete in?
TT: I wrestle at 138 this year.
AV: What is the most challenging aspect of wrestling?
TT: It's to be disciplined in what you eat and working hard during practice, maintaining focus and not really getting distracted when you're on the mat.
AV: What do you need to do to stay within your weight class?
TT: This year, I'm thankful that I'm a pound under, so I really don't have to worry about eating. But my freshman year, I was trying to cut to 120, so that's like 6 pounds that year. And I had to watch everything I was eating. I had to portion my food. For breakfast, I ate oatmeal — one bowl of oatmeal, water. And then lunch was salad — just the salad, no salad dressing or anything else. And then dinner, depending on how much I weighed after practice was how much I would want to eat
AV: Is it pretty nice that you can kind of let yourself go now as a senior?
TT: Yeah. It's so great. I kind of don't have to worry about anything. I eat normally every meal, just as much as I want. The way I see it is the harder I work out during practice the more weight I'll probably lose, so I can eat more if I work harder.
AV: Did you have any role models you looked up to growing up?
TT: I started looking up to Wade Schalles. He was a two-time national champion in college. He has the most pins out of anybody in the world.
AV: What did you like about the way he wrestled?
TT: I liked how creative he got with pins because he was so good at cradles, and cradles are one of the pinning combinations you can use to win. And he had so many different variations of it. You can hit it from standing up or you can hit it from, really, anywhere.
AV: How does it feel to finally get the season going?
TT: I'm so excited. I'm ready for it to start and just compete.
AV: As a senior, do you know what you want to do yet after graduation?
TT: After I graduate, I am going to go to Huntingdon College and wrestle over there and study preengineering and later on go into civil engineering.