September 2019

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24 In 1993, aer winning the Iowa Class 3A 103-pound state championship as a high school freshman, a welcome home celebration was held in Maquoketa. Before the ceremony, Juergens picked up the local newspaper and read an article that mentioned him being undefeated. "I turned to my coach and asked, 'I didn't lose this year?' Juergens said. "It was a different mindset and I think that's why we were successful. Nobody was talking about going undefeated -- it was focusing on wrestling as hard as you can -- preparing yourself to be the best you could be, and going out and being tough. It was never win at all costs." Juergens continued to win and Iowa coaches Dan Gable and Jim Zalesky noticed. "When wrestling became an outlet to get (a college) education, it was a no-brainer," Juergens said. "I knew I needed to be close (to Maquoketa) and I knew if I was going to wrestle, I wanted to go where I had the best chance to be successful. Iowa was that place." Adjusting to college life wasn't easy. Either was cutting to 118 pounds. e first two Sundays on campus, Juergens wanted to pick up a telephone, call home, and move back to Maquoketa. "at was an adjustment, I had never been on my own before," Juergens said. "I was missing family and being around friends. By the third or fourth week, you start meeting people and get acclimated." He used his redshirt in 1996-97, going 5-2 at 126 pounds. During his first season in the varsity lineup, Juergens was 23-5 with two falls. As a sophomore, Juergens won 36 of 43 matches with four falls. In two seasons, he had 59 victories, but still no individual Big Ten or NCAA title. "Everybody has this idea in society that if you bust your butt and you put in all the effort that you win the prize at the end," Juergens said. "Life isn't like that, that's not true. Wrestling prepares you for those moments in life where you get knocked down. If I am successful as a person, it is due to wrestling and the stuff I learned at Iowa." In the end, Juergens won two individual titles and was a member of three Iowa teams that won NCAA championships. e Hawkeyes won Big Ten titles in 1998 and 2000. Aer college, Juergens and Hawkeye teammate Jody Strittmatter started Young Guns Wrestling Club and Juergens, who resides in Coal Valley, Illinois, supervises the location in the Quad Cities. He is also Midwest Territory Manager for a firearm importer out of Reno, Nevada. ERIC JUERGENS

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