Evan Hansen capped off a historical career for Grand View a few weeks ago. He won his 4th NAIA title and looked great doing so.
I recorded his finals match on ESPN3 and am gonna include his post-match interview that I had with him afterwards. He was a very funny guy. I like him.
Hansen’s career in high school was pretty interesting, for he wrestled and performed well as both a lighter weight and an upper weight… this is similar to what guys like Willie Miklus, Drew Foster, Jay Borschel, etc. did. I think it’s pretty impressive when you are so good that you can adapt your style to be successful at both weight ranges. Hanson wrestled for Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton in high school and didn’t place as a Freshman at 112 lbs, but won it the next year at 145, placed 3rd the year after that at 182 and concluded his HS career by winning another title at 182. Now he is a 4X NAIA champion at 195 lbs., almost twice the weight he started out as when he was a Freshman. Crazy.
1. Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
I had a babysitter who had a son wrestling in high school when I was young and I wanted to wrestle like him. Then I saw Cael Sanderson win his 4th title and that’s when I really fell in love with the sport and starting doing more.
2. Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
The only person who has ever wrestled in my family is my uncle Neil Anderson. He was pretty good but never placed at state or went on to college to wrestle.
3. What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
I never won a super pee wee state title or an AAU state title but I won 2 USA wrestling state titles, 1 gradeschool state title, a freestyle state title and a Greco state title. I always wrestled Max Thomsen, Drew Foster and Cole Erickson at AAU.
4. What was your record in HS?
5. How did you place at state every year?
Freshman-NP Sophmore- 1st Junior- 3rd Senior 1st
6. What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
I’ve had a lot of challenges in my 20 year wrestling career but one of the biggest ones was going through my freshman year and throwing my state tournament matches then having to come back the next year at a higher weight and learn from that mistake. Although this is one of my biggest regrets I learned a lot from it and probably wouldn’t be where I’m at today without that experience.
7. How would you describe your wrestling style?
Relaxed, composed and offensive. The more I have fun with it the better I wrestle. I just want to enjoy the opportunities and score points.
8. Who was your most influential coach?
I don’t think I can say one coach was more influential than another. Every coach I’ve had throughout my career has helped me in some way become a better wrestler. Mentally or physically they all have had a big impact on my life.
9. What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
I don’t remember where it was but I remember I was pretty young. I threw my headgear and went storming off and my parents just pulled me out of the tournament right there and said they wouldn’t put up with that attitude win or lose you’re respectful.
10. Was your team competitive in HS/college?
My high school team had 6 kids on it so we were never competitive in duals, but we did end up getting 10th at state my sophomore year when I won it and my teammate got 3rd. My college team has been very competitive winning 5 championships in my time at Grand View and winning 9 straight.
11. Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up? What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
Cael Sanderson had a big impact on me as a wrestler because I saw what he did and I would study his matches and try to build my style to be similar to his. I took the things he did and made them my own. Then I saw guys like Ben Askren wrestling and added some things from him.
12. How do you feel your skills have changed since going to Grand View?
I’m a lot better at setting things up and getting to my shots to finish quickly all while getting my opponent tired without getting myself tired. When I first came in I wouldn’t stop moving and although nobody could keep that pace I couldn’t either.
14. Do you feel like guys from smaller schools are wrongly encouraged to develop the belief that they are not as likely to succeed at the next level? If so, what do you have to say to these kids?
I believe that no matter where you come from it’s possible to succeed in whatever you do as long as you’re willing to put in the work. You might have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get half the recognition but it’s possible to accomplish things regardless of what your circumstances are.
15. You Grand View guys are nice, how do we get these people to stop booing and hating you guys before they know you?
I don’t think there’s a way to change people’s mind about Grand View but it’s really just up to each individual to live their lives to the best of their abilities and be grateful for the opportunities given to them along with being humble in defeat and victory.
16. Would you recommend a recruit who is on the fence about committing to Grand View to do so?
It depends on the person, Grand View isn’t the best fit for everyone and that’s okay. If they fit what Mitchell is looking for in an athlete and are willing to put in the work then I would definitely recommend Grand View especially if you’re from a smaller school like myself and don’t think you’d like the class sizes of a D1 school.
17. What would you tell these people?
Make the most out of every situation. Grand View is a place where you can grow as an athlete and a person but you have to be willing to put in the work for both.
18. How do some of the D1 and NAIA guys compare to each other from your experience?
I think there’s a mutual respect between the two. Grand View goes and wrestles at D1 events all the time and does pretty well. It also depends on the athlete there’s people out there on a lot of teams that are there as a walk on and that’s okay but that doesn’t mean they can’t compete and the same goes for Grand View guys.
19. Do you feel some NAIA guys can compete at that level?
I think a lot of NAIA guys can compete at that level. The only difference between D1 and NAIA is the school size the rest is just people putting D1 on a pedestal and making it a bigger thing. That doesn’t mean that all D1 guys are better than the NAIA guys, that only means they get more recognition by the fans. It’s all wrestling and we’re trying to grow the sport.
20. Where was your best performance this year?
I didn’t wrestle a lot this year, I think I wrestled like 19 matches or something but I think I wrestled pretty well at conference. Again though like every time I wrestle there’s always something I can improve on, and the moment you stop improving on those things is when you start falling behind.
21. If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change anything because each one of those experiences are what allowed me to push myself in college and do the things I did. In college if I didn’t lose I may not have had the drive to keep coming back and getting better every day. You never know which experience it is that makes the difference for you in the future so instead of dwelling on it take them as blessings and learn from them.
22. Do you see yourself coaching someday?
Yes I plan to be a coach someday, I’m not sure if I want to be college, little kids, high school or what but I know that I want to coach.
23. Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
I wrestled seasonal in high school but never stopped going to camps and trying to learn and improve my skills. I never stopped working on my wrestling I just never went to practices. When I got to college I may have taken a couple months off but I never really stopped wrestling at any point.
24. What other sports did you play?
Baseball, Football, Cross Country
25. What are your favorite sports teams?
Baseball- Boston Red Sox
Football- New Orleans Saints
I don’t watch basketball or really any other sport.
26. What are your hobbies?
I have a small youtube channel that I post on when I have free time, I spend time with my fiancé, I play video games, and I work out often.
27. How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
Wrestling has helped me build character, discipline, and take responsibility for my actions. I learned that you can’t blame others because you aren’t where you want to be. You just put your head down and go to work, be the hardest working person there.
28. Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Give it everything you have. Even if you only plan to wrestle in junior high or high school. Time really fly’s and you’ll really regret it if you don’t give it everything you have and don’t accomplish the things you want to accomplish. Also have fun nobody starts wrestling because they hate it so always remember to have fun and enjoy the opportunities that God has given you.
29. Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
There’s a young kid named Alex Hansen who I’ve helped a little bit over the last few years, him, his parents and brother all came to watch me at nationals. He reminds me a lot of myself but he has a lot more work ethic than I had at that age. He’s got great things going for him in whatever he does.