Just one match at a time

Senior Corey Melinn, 21-3 this season, hopes to win the heavyweight National Championship. The Nationals will be held March 10-12.

Eric Coulter

Senior Corey Melinn, 21-3 this season, hopes to win the heavyweight National Championship. The Nationals will be held March 10-12.

Zach Sepanik

Just as in any other sport, wrestlers are supposed to have short memories.

Getting too high after a win or too low after a loss can disrupt an entire season, and senior heavyweight wrestler Corey Melinn has learned to exercise this philosophy in his time as an athlete.

“Right after I win, I move on and think about the next match,” he said. “After a loss, I have to have a short-term memory just like any athlete. You don’t want to dwell on a bad golf shot or a bad shot in a basketball game. You just want to move on and forget about it.”

After graduating in 2007 from Coopersville High School, Melinn did not earn much recognition from any college for his talents as a wrestler. He chose to attend GVSU, and on Campus Life Night, something caught his attention.

“My freshman year I walked around the different booths and I saw wrestling,” he said. “It was what I wanted to do so I signed up. I got beaten up a lot my freshman year because the guys were bigger and stronger than me.”

He spent countless hours in the weight room his freshman year looking to improve, and when the first-string heavyweight got injured, Melinn’s opportunity came – and he hasn’t looked back.

“One weekend we went to Ohio State University, and I beat a kid who was pretty good,” said Melinn. “On the way home, [GVSU head coach] Rick Bolhuis said if I keep it up I was going to give some people a hard time at nationals. That he thought I could make it gave me the push for the rest of the year.”

At the National Collegiate Wrestling Association’s nationals in his freshman year, Melinn won his first three matches to reach the semi-finals, earning him All-American recognition. He lost two of his final three matches, but still earned fifth place.

Since then, the National Championships have become a natural setting for Melinn.

“The preparation in practice leading up to nationals is harder and harder because you want to hit your peak at the right point,” Melinn said. “Mentally, I try to prepare myself the same. In terms of preparation for the national meet, I pretty much do everything the same as in any other meet.”

Melinn’s sophomore year saw him improve two spots to third place. However, his junior year took a downward spiral following a match Melinn lost against a heavyweight from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville at the national qualifying tournament.

“It placed a seed of doubt in my mind,” Melinn said. “I let all the talk and hype that people were saying get to me subconsciously. I let myself think that I was better than I really was; and it all really got to me after a while, and I didn’t notice it until it was too late.”

Former teammate junior TJ Sobeck always felt that Melinn’s passion for wrestling was evident at all times, even during the tough patches.

“He was a leader in how he carried himself and how he performed on the mat,” Sobeck said. “He was always a very motivated person and he never got mad at anyone about things. Last year he went to the American Airlines Challenge in Texas and he was the only one on the team to go. That just shows that he is one of the hardest workers on the team.”

Like all great athletes, Melinn moved on from his disappointing junior year. He learned from his mistakes and took nothing for granted heading into his senior season.

“This year I have focused on one match at a time and try not to think too far into the future,” Melinn said. “I think about training harder than other guys. I am just focusing right ahead of me instead of thinking down the road.”

Sophomore wrestler and Melinn’s workout partner, Frank Bastien, who wrestles in the 197-pound weight class, has witnessed Melinn progress as a leader and noticed his desire for a title.

“He is a natural leader,” Bastien said. “He has been wrestling for four years, which is something not all people do with their schedules. He is constantly improving and he always puts the time in to get better.”

Once again, nationals are where Melinn has set his sights, only this time he hopes he’ll be taking home a national championship.

“You get to see all the work you put in and if it was equal or greater than the work they put in,” Melinn said. “It’s going to take a lot of work to win. I’m going to have to have a good month of practice and stay healthy.”

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