In his last match in a Cornell singlet, Cam Simaz defeated Edinboro’s Chris Honeycutt to capture the 2012 197-pound NCAA crown. The title capped off a stellar career for the Michigan native, who was a four-time All American and a four-time EIWA champion.
This week, Simaz will return to competition as he takes the mat at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas in freestyle. We caught up with Cam to hear more about what he’s been doing for the past year and what the future may hold.
New York Wrestling News (NYWN): You’re entered in the U.S. Open Freestyle tournament this week at 84 kg (185 pounds). I know at some point you were considering going up to 96 kg (211.5 pounds) for freestyle competition. What were the big factors in your decision?
Cam Simaz (CS): I thought I was going up. I lifted and ate and did that whole thing, but I just didn’t get that much bigger. I felt like I got pretty fat when I tipped the scales at 205, maybe at 208. It’s easy for ’84’ pounders and ’65’ pounders, who know exactly what freestyle weights they’ll go. But most of us ’97s’ are tweeners anyway. We have to make a decision. Unfortunately, for me and my diet, I felt like I had to go down to give myself the best chance to compete. I’m working on cutting weight right now. The first time it feels like a lot. But with freestyle, you weigh in the day before and then you can eat all night and all morning and then wrestle.
NYWN: You spent the last year in Ithaca, coaching at the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club. How much time have you spent training in freestyle?
CS: Probably a couple of weeks. I’m a coach now and I’ve been focused on that. My priority was to get the Finger Lakes college kids ready to go for tournaments. So most of what I did was wrestling collegiate style. I have the itch to wrestle again and I’m excited to get back on the mat. But I know it will be a learning curve for me and that there will be a lot of adapting and transitioning. I hope to catch on quickly.
NYWN: So this will be your first freestyle tournament in a while. What kind of outcome will you be happy with?
CS: It is going to be business and pleasure for me. I’m going out to wrestle myself and to coach the Finger Lakes guys, who I think will do really well.
For me, the results will be a byproduct of wrestling well. I’m guessing whatever results I get are probably what they should be at this point. This is the beginning. I plan to spend the rest of the summer wrestling freestyle and going to as many tournaments as I can. I hope I’ll get shipped around the world a little bit to compete against wrestlers from all over.
NYWN: Who have been your primary training partners?
CS: I’ve done some training with Clint Wattenberg, Damion Hahn, Duke Pickett, Steve Bosak. But I mostly wrestled with my college guys, especially [incoming Cornell freshman] Gabe Dean. I think he’s as good as I am in freestyle already.
NYWN: You mentioned Gabe Dean, who placed in a number of open tournaments this year. Other Finger Lakes wrestlers such as Mark Grey and Brian Realbuto won some events as well. What has the experience been like coaching some future Big Red wrestlers this year?
CS: It has been awesome, all the time. All of the guys are grossly talented. It’s the best recruiting class ever at Cornell without a doubt. All those guys are freaks already. My job was to not screw them up.
NYWN: Among the wrestlers you coached was your brother Taylor. What was that experience like?
CS: He’s been awesome. People always say things are better with family around and that’s definitely true. When we were growing up, my brothers were my best friends and things haven’t changed. It wasn’t hard for me to coach him because I’ve been doing it my whole life. I feel like I have a pretty critical eye, and it may be more critical when there’s blood involved. It’s been great with Taylor here.
NYWN: You spent a year at the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club after high school like some of the guys you coached this year. Is the experience now different than it was for you?
CS: Definitely. It has changed so much over the years. Now there’s organization, a lifting regimen, a plan. Corey Manson and I were kind of guinea pigs. It was the two of us and we’d just wrestle each other when we had free time. We were working full time jobs and I’d just call him and ask him if he wanted to wrestle and that was about it. It was a fun experience, but things have come a long way and I think the results have shown that.
NYWN: So after freestyle this summer, what’s next for you?
CS: When I look into my Magic 8 Ball and ask about my future, it comes back pretty cloudy. I don’t really know, but whatever it is, I’m sure it will be good. I have nothing to complain about here at Cornell. I guess other than the weather sometimes. I’ve had the time of my life here and am enjoying the ride.
Frank Perrelli will also be competing at the Freestyle U.S. Open after coaching at the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club (FLWC) this year. Perrelli will be at 55 kg (121.5 pounds).
Wrestling for the FLWC in the ASICS FILA Junior Nationals freestyle tournament:
Mark Grey 60 kg (132.25 pounds)
Dylan Palacio 74 kg (163)
Duke Pickett 74 kg (163)
Brian Realbuto 74 kg (163)
Taylor Simaz 74 kg (163)
Gabe Dean 84 kg (185)