Country music star Luke Bryan released a song called “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day” in 2015.
For Travis Wittlake, who is verbally committed to Penn State wrestling’s recruiting Class of 2018, said that could be the motto of his life since hunting and fishing are what he does most outside of the sport.
The “country boy” took some time to chat with the Centre Daily Times before competing in and reaching the finals of the 76-kilogram finals of the Cadet National Tournament in Akron, Ohio. Wittlake takes on Aaron Brooks for a spot on the United States’ World Cadet Team on Sunday.
Q: For some people who don’t know you, what is one of the more interesting things about Travis Wittlake?
A: A lot of people don’t really know this, but blame it on the West Coast. I’m kind of a country boy. I hunt, I fish, and a lot of people don’t know that. I live in a little country town, and I always grew up living in the hills. I mean, I’d say for sure that’s something people don’t know.
Q: When you come out to the East Coast, what’s one thing you think you’re going to miss from home?
A: I’ll probably mostly miss just being around my family and friends, really. I’m not too worried about it. I think being over there is going to be a great time, but I’m definitely going to miss the people around me.
Q: You sound like a family kid. Do you think that type of family atmosphere that Penn State has is what might have persuaded you to come here?
A: Yeah, for sure. I mean the whole team is close. You can see that by the way they wrestle, how they act at tournaments and what they say during interviews. You can definitely see that in the whole team. For sure, that whole atmosphere there and the level of competition that I’ll have in the wrestling room every day is what persuaded me to go there.
Q: What is one of the things you’re most looking forward to when you come to Penn State?
A: Just being around the D-1 atmosphere. Being around guys like Cael (Sanderson), David Taylor, Bo Nickal and the whole team. I’m excited to be around guys like that and being in an atmosphere where there are guys that have the same goals as me and same dreams as me. I don’t see a lot of kids over here on the West Coast because wrestling is not as big. It’s hard for me to find drill partners here. It’s hard for me to kind of be on the same page as some of these kids. It will be nice to be around some kids like me.
Q: The cadet tournament is coming up here, and you took bronze last year at the world championships. What’s one thing you’re looking forward to most heading into the cadet tournament in a couple of days?
A: I’m just focused on making the team again right now. I’m just taking one tournament at a time. I should come in at the No. 1 seed and have a good draw. I’m excited. I wrestled good there last year. This year I’m looking to do the same and get some good matches in. I get to wrestle in front of some of the Penn State guys, so it’s going to be fun.
Q: If you had to have your dream wrestling match, who would it be with and why?
A: I would have to go with Cael Sanderson or David Taylor. Those guys are two guys that I’ve studied a lot and watched a lot of video on. They are even guys I’ve tried to mock my style afterward with the low singles and ankle picks. Some of the stuff that they do I’d really love to feel and see how they do it. Those would be two definite dream matches of mine.
Q: Let’s fast forward, you are here in State College and in the wrestling room wrestling David Taylor. Are there butterflies in your stomach?
A: (laughs) Yeah, maybe the first time. I might be a little bit nervous about that one. I would just try to get as much as I could out of it and try and learn from it for sure.
Q: You are part of — I guess you could say — a historic class that’s going to be coming into Penn State with the likes of Gavin Teasdale, Roman Bravo-Young, Seth Nevills and Michael Beard. What’s it like to be a part of a class like that?
A: It’s an honor, really. This recruiting class is going to be amazing. I think Penn State is going to go on a really good run when all those guys get in the lineup. I think we are going to be pretty close to unbeatable. All of those kids are super tough, and to have all of us on one team and go wrestle in the same room every day, we got no option but to get better. I think it’s going to be great, and I’m super excited.