One-on-One with Travis Rutt

Travis Rutt, a native of New Prague, Minn., was a 2011 NCAA Division I All-American at 184 pounds while attending the University of Wisconsin. Rutt has since transferred to the University of Oklahoma, and returns to NCAA competition this season after an Olympic redshirt season followed by a redshirt season. He enters this season ranked No. 5 at 197 pounds by InterMat.

InterMat recently caught up with the Sooner senior.

Travis Rutt (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)
You've been out of the lineup for the past two seasons. How much are you looking forward to competing in the lineup this season for the Sooners?

Rutt: I'm really excited. It's been two years since I've been part of a team atmosphere like that. It's going to be great.

You spent time with your assistant coach Jared Frayer at Wisconsin, and then rejoined him at Oklahoma. How much did having Frayer at Oklahoma factor into your decision to become a Sooner?

Rutt: It was like paving the way. It was pretty easy coming down on a visit since I had known him before. It really influenced my decision quite a bit right away. When I came down it was a perfect fit for me. Then it didn't matter that he was my coach before.

You and Andrew Howe both made the move from Madison to Norman. Were you two set on staying together? Or is that just how things turned out?

Rutt: We really wanted to stay together. We knew if it wasn't going to work out, then it wasn't going to work out. But we tried to stay at the same place and it ended up working out perfectly.

Travis Rutt defeated Kevin Steinhaus to place seventh at the 2011 NCAAs (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)
You were an All-American at 184 pounds in 2011. Now you're moving up to 197 pounds. How is that transition to 197 pounds going?

Rutt: Putting on the weight hasn't been an issue. I wrestled 211 in the summer. I felt pretty good there. It has been a pretty easy transition so far. I haven't competed at 197 at all, though.

Taylor Meeks of Oregon State is currently ranked No. 1 at 197 pounds. You made quick work of Meeks in freestyle this past spring, earning a fall in just 34 seconds. Did that win give you added confidence knowing that Meeks is the highest returning NCAA finisher at 197 pounds?

Rutt: Yeah. It is a different style, so that plays a factor. But it's still going to be there … in the back of both of our minds. That win kind of finalized my decision to go up to 197 pounds.

You could potentially meet Meeks at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December. Is that a potential matchup you look forward to more than other matches?

Rutt: Yeah. He is the guy with the target on his back right now. You always want to wrestle the No. 1 guy. We have a dual with Oregon State later in the season too. I could potentially see him three or four times this year. Every time we meet it will be a good match and also be exciting.

Mark Cody
Mark Cody is regarded as one of the nation's top college wrestling coaches. What's it like wrestling for him?

Rutt: It's great. It's a really nice to have such a hands-on head coach.

You competed in the starting lineup at Wisconsin as a true freshman in 2008-09. When you look back on that season now, what did that season do for your wrestling career?

Rutt: I was just talking to some of the Oklahoma guys here about that last night. I think I had like seven wins, including open tournaments, before I was taken out of my redshirt. It was not a good year. I definitely took my lumps. It was great, though, because I feel like I learned so much faster through that than if I would have redshirted. I like that I was able to redshirt later. I knew what I needed to work on and where I lacked. So it was a lot easier to focus on things rather than not knowing as a true freshman. I definitely took my lumps. I had a lot of losses, but it helped in the long run.

Travis Rutt competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Greco-Roman (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)
You come from Minnesota, a Greco-Roman wrestling hotbed. You have competed in several national events in Greco-Roman, including the Olympic Team Trials in 2012. Do you have favor Greco-Roman over the other two styles?

Rutt: I really enjoyed wrestling Greco-Roman growing up. I definitely had a better feel for it. Now I really don't know if I could pick a favorite. I'm planning on wrestling both styles at the World Team Trials next summer.

You have coached some national teams in Fargo. Is coaching a potential career path for you?

Rutt: Yeah, definitely. I really enjoy that, especially coaching the wrestlers who want to learn and get better, so it's always fun coaching in Fargo. I definitely could see myself coaching in the future.

You're one of six All-Americans in the Sooner lineup this season. What does your team need to do to win an NCAA team title in Oklahoma City?

Rutt: We're definitely going to need everybody to wrestle up to their potential and perform better than where they're going to be seeded. We'll probably have six guys ranked in the top eight coming into the tournament, and then the other guys are going to have to contribute to that as well. It's not just about the past All-Americans. It's about the other wrestlers too. That will play a big factor in how we finish.

This story also appears in the Oct. 25 issue of The Guillotine. The Guillotine has been covering wrestling in Minnesota since 1971. Its mission is to report and promote wrestling at all levels -- from youth and high school wrestling to college and international level wrestling. Subscribe to The Guillotine.


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