One-on-One with Dylan Ness

Dylan Ness became a fan favorite during his college wrestling career at Minnesota because of his wide-open, go-for-broke wrestling style and creativity on the mat. Ness finished his career as a four-time All-American and two-time NCAA finalist for the Gophers. His 37 career pins ranks him ninth in Gopher history.

Ness will now make the transition from college wrestling to Greco-Roman wrestling. InterMat recently caught up with Bloomington, Minnesota native.

Dylan Ness gets ready for a match at the NCAAs in St. Louis (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)
You recently announced that you will be competing on the senior level in Greco-Roman, with your first tournament being the Bill Farrell International Open in November. What went into your decision to return to wrestling?

Ness: I love the sport. I love everything about it. I plan on sticking around Minneapolis. It's hard not to compete. This summer I decided I was wrestling Greco, but wasn't sure when I was going to compete. My shoulder is feeling good. I'm just getting back into the swing of things. Last week I started wrestling and lifting again. I found out through the coaches and online that the next tournament is in November. So I've got to get my international wrestling in, and might as well start now.

What other options were you considering for your career?

Ness: I was considering going MMA, but I still have some fight in me for wrestling. I think I might transition to MMA after my wrestling career, but I still have that fire in me to wrestle and compete.

You've had national success in all the styles of wrestling. Why Greco-Roman over freestyle?

Ness: It was decision of Olympic weights. I'm in between for both styles. It was a hard decision to make. I always had a passion for Greco in high school. I love freestyle. I might wrestle freestyle next year, I don't know. Or I might just stick with Greco. I'm probably going to wrestle both quite a bit. I just love wrestling. If I can make it, I'm going 66 kilos, which is 145.5 pounds. The freestyle weight is 65 kilos, and I knew that the two-pound difference was going to matter when getting down. I don't think I can make 65. I'm not quite big enough to go 75 in Greco or 74 in freestyle.

Dylan Ness works from the top position in a match at the NCAAs in St. Louis (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)
You have battled a lot of injuries throughout your career. How is your health right now?

Ness: I'm pretty healthy. I've been feeling good wrestling and lifting. I'm as healthy as I can be for a wrestler, I guess.

College wrestling, especially in the Big Ten, is known for being a grind. Do you think training for Greco-Roman will allow you to stay healthier?

Ness: Yeah, I believe so. I think the international training, freestyle and Greco, will be easier on my body. I dealt with so many injuries during my college career. It will help not having to make weight twice a weight. There won't be that college grind. I can take a little more time off when I need to. My main focus right now is wrestling and training. I think not having the stress from school will help too.

What will your training situation be like?

Ness: I'm sticking around the U and wrestling with the Minnesota Storm. I'm still helping out with Minnesota wrestling. I'll still go to their practices sometimes. I'll be training with Brandon Paulson, Jake Deitchler and Dan Chandler, working with the Greco guys, and also working with the freestyle guys. My brother is competing again. I'll be going in and wrestling with him when he needs a partner. I owe him one. He stopped for four or five years just to help me out, so I figure the best thing I can do is help him out.

Is it fun for you to see your brother Jayson compete again?

Ness: I would say it's more stressful. It's awesome to see him compete again, getting excited for training, wanting to learn more. It's a lot of stress on me, my family … just watching someone compete is stressful sometimes. But it's exciting.

Dylan Ness gets his hand raised after defeating James Green in Big Ten semifinals (Photo/The Guillotine)
You defeated James Green the last three times you faced him, including twice this past season. He went on to win a bronze medal at the World Championships in freestyle last week. Were you surprised by his success in freestyle this year?

Ness: No. He has had success in freestyle. He was in the finals of the World Team Trials last year. He was also a silver medalist at the University World Championships last year. He's a tough guy. I don't see why he wouldn't do well in freestyle. I wasn't surprised at all. He's a tremendous athlete. He's very good on his feet. I think it was an easy transition for him to go from folkstyle to freestyle.

You were considered one of the most exciting wrestlers in college wrestling. Did you take pride in being exciting and putting on a show?

Ness: Yes and no. Sometimes there was a little pressure because people were hoping for pin or that crazy move. This last season I kind of calmed it down a little bit, wrestled more basic and solid. I had a lot of success with that. It's always nice to have a move in your back pocket that you can pull out anytime.

Do you see yourself being an exciting Greco-Roman wrestler?

Ness: Yes, definitely. I always had success in high school with Greco. It could have been one of my best styles when I was in high school. I won Fargo almost every year. It was always fun grinding it out and getting those big throws.

You were a four-time All-American and two-time NCAA finalist in college. When you reflect back on your college wrestling career, is there any moment in particular that stands out the most?

Dylan Ness waves to the crowd after injury defaulting in his final collegiate wrestling match (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)
Ness: There were a lot of exciting moments. One of my favorite matches was my freshman year in the NCAA quarters against Jamal Parks. It was an upset. He was the No. 2 seed and I was just a freshman. Getting that win was very exciting for me. Getting the fall in the Big Ten finals with the gator bacon was also exciting. My junior year getting a pin against Alton at a home dual and helping the team win was exciting, as was the fall in the NCAA quarters against Green and hearing the place erupt. Also, a big moment was getting that round of applause going out against Nick Brascetta of Virginia, just saying my farewells to the Minnesota crowd, and it ended up being goodbye to everyone in the arena who acknowledged me and that loved to watch me wrestle even though I wasn't on their team.

I didn't take it in at the moment just because I trained my whole life for that national title. I was very disappointed at the time. But when I reflect back on it I really appreciate everyone who stood up, applauded and cheered for me. It didn't really sink in until a week or two after the tournament.

You were one of five All-Americans that graduated this season for the University of Minnesota. The Gophers lose a lot of NCAA tournament points, but have brought in some talented recruits, including two Fargo freestyle champions. What does the future look like for the Gophers?

Ness: I think the future looks bright. On paper right now the team doesn't look as good as we were last year, or the last couple years. There's a lot of young talent. Guys step up when they need to. It's going to be exciting for me to see these guys. There are a lot of tough guys who had good seasons but didn't necessarily put it together for Big Tens or NCAAs. But that happens with a lot of young guys.

Matt Lindland has been the U.S. Greco-Roman national coach since June of 2014. Do you have a relationship with him yet?

Ness: I can't say much about it because I've been immersed with college wrestling, knowing everyone in college wrestling, studying film on folkstyle. I've been out of the international scene for a couple years.

Dylan Ness and his father Jay Ness coaching at Minnesota/USA Wrestling's state freestyle tournament (Photo/The Guillotine)
Will not reaching your goals in college wrestling motivate you in your Greco-Roman wrestling career?

Ness: Since I was a kid I wanted to win a national title, both individually and team-wise. That hurt a lot when I didn't achieve that goal and dream. I'm not necessarily using that as motivation. I just want to find a new goal and achieve greater things in life.

What are your goals in Greco-Roman?

Ness: I want to be an Olympian and Olympic champ. I want to be the best that I can possibly be in the sport Greco-Roman. I want to do everything I can to achieve my goals.

How long do you plan to compete?

Ness: I'm just taking it one thing at a time. We'll see how far I go with it. We'll have to see what God's plans are. Plans can always change.


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PSUhomerinVA (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Loved watching you wrestle for all four years Dylan (but hated when you beat one of our Nittany Lions).
Can't wait to cheer on another Big Ten alum at the next level.
Good luck and God Bless.
silver-medal (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Ness looked spectacular this season but just had some hard luck at the end. Some guys have championship talent but never win a title. He was one of those guys.
coolbeans (1) about 5 and a half years ago
I have been a Gopher wrestling fan for many years. Dylan's matches were some of the most exciting matches ever. The stadium erupted many times when he unexpectedly pinned a tough guy like Green. I love a guy who let's it all loose instead of the boring stalling matches won by 3-2. or 1-0. Thanks for the memories
ched64 (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Amen...though a huge Kyle Dake fan, the Jayson Ness's of the world make our sport the most exciting when the let it loose...Imar is the heir to the throne or is is thrown? :)