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Thunder wrestling star prepares for Oregon State

Williams first impressed OSU coaches a year ago at a camp
By: Russ Edmondson, The Placer Herald
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Rocklin High wrestling star Tommy Williams, a 2010 graduate, will continue his wrestling career at Oregon State. Williams, who carried an overall GPA of 4.05 at Rocklin, will receive an academic scholarship (provost scholarship) of about $7,000 a year. He also has another grant worth $5,000 and hopes to get more scholarship money after his freshman year at Oregon State. The Oregon State coaches took notice of Williams last year when he participated in a wrestling camp at the school. “I was just dominating all the kids at the camp and a couple of guys at the camp, the Oregon State wrestlers running the camp, said ‘let’s work out with the big boys and see how you do,’” Williams said. “I did and I was holding my own and the coaches were really impressed and they said they would keep in contact with me.” The camp, which lasted for 10 days, featured about 125 wrestlers. According to his father Bobby Williams, Tommy Williams was the only one invited to work out with the college team. This happened after three days of the camp. Oregon State has won the Pac-10 title in wrestling for the last two years. “They are the real deal,” Tommy Williams said. Williams might be able to earn an athletic scholarship as his college career moves forward. “They have very little money to give out for wrestling, scholarship wise,” Williams said. “I am in the middle weight classes, at about the 150s, and they already have a lot of guys in that weight class. And they are going to save their money for somebody (at a weight class) they really need. (But) they say you can earn your scholarship as you (continue) on the team.” Williams went 2-2 at the CIF State Meet in Bakersfield in March. He was Rocklin’s lone representative at the championships. Competing at 145 pounds, he opened up with comeback victories over wrestlers from Marin Catholic and Foothill. He then dropped his final two matches but still finished among the top-24 in the state for his weight class. Williams trailed 12-5 in the final minute of his final match (against a wrestler from Sanger) before he made a late run in what was a very physical match. “As a coach of high school kids most of my job is to motivate these young adults,” Rocklin wrestling coach Grant Depue said. “But it’s funny – I didn’t really have to motivate him to get better or work harder. He doesn’t take losing very well . . . He’s a really intelligent kid – how he strategies and finds weaknesses in his opponents. And knowing his strengths.” Depue is fired up that Williams will wrestle in college and he expects his former star to be challenged. “He’s a great kid and I am really, really pleased that he is going to wrestle at the next level,” Depue said. “It’s like going from junior high to high school. Freshman year in high school you are sore and want to cry every day.” Williams missed the first half of the wrestling season because of Rocklin’s extended football season. Williams played defensive back and special teams for a Thunder squad (14-1) that reached a state bowl game in mid-December. “It was a great experience going to state (for football) and it kind of set a precedent for what it feels like to be a champion,” Williams said. “And I was doing all I could to get ready for wrestling but I couldn’t be on the mat because of CIF rules. And it was kind of frustrating because I missed the early tournaments and that bummed me out. You get points (toward) entering the Hall of Fame at our high school and I didn’t have enough points because I didn’t wrestle in enough tournaments. But it was not a complete negative – it was great to know what it’s like to go all the way (to the state bowl game).” Depue certainly noticed how hard Williams worked at wrestling once the football season finally ended on Dec. 19. “He missed a lot of time. He was trying to get on the mat the whole time during football season and I talked with him and his football coaches and I didn’t want to risk an injury,” Depue said. “He got three days of practice in before Christmas. So he missed the first six weeks of the season . . . and that is the time when you are fine tuning and dialing in pin combinations and things like that . . . During Christmas Break he did double days and he contacted my assistant coach to get together with him. He would do extra practices in the evening and all this was on his own accord.” Williams noticed the differences in reaching the state championships in two sports. “It was a lot different than football for sure –I did it all on my own,” Williams said. “All the training and all the hard work I did because I wanted to win and I wanted to be a champion. And it was an amazing feeling to be able to make it into state and to be able to say I did this by myself and on my own, with the help of my coaches of course.” Williams is trying to get stronger this summer. “I’m just lifting (in his garage) every day and trying to just get strong and bigger . . . College guys are a lot bigger than me obviously,” Williams said. “Most likely I’m going to go up and wrestle with the Oregon State club team for a couple weeks in July.”