Every so often, the Michigan wrestling team”s practices consist of simulated matches. They offer the coaches an opportunity to see people wrestle out of their weight class, and force the wrestler to adapt his style to his opponent”s weight.

The last time simulated matches were scheduled, an especially intriguing match took place. Following practice, co-captain Otto Olson took on assistant coach Tony Robie.

Though the outcome of the match was unclear, it was apparent that this was no playful scrum between coach and player.

Coach Joe McFarland knows that Robie fulfills a role that he no longer can.

“As I”ve gotten older, I want to make sure I run a quality practice, and I want a practice with a lot of intensity,” McFarland said. The assistant coaches can help by “getting in there and wrestling hard with the guys.”

Robie, in his first year with the team, and Kirk Trost, in his 15th year with Michigan wrestling, are the unsung heroes of the third-ranked Wolverines.

“Those guys do a great job they put a lot of work into it,” McFarland said. “They have just as much invested in this as I do.”

Perhaps more than any other sport, coaching wrestling requires knowing how to wrestle and Robie and Trost certainly know how to wrestle.

When Trost was a teammate of McFarland”s on the Michigan teams of the early-to-mid 1980s, he compiled a record of 139-48 and was the NCAA champion at heavyweight in 1986.

Trost said that his most memorable moment as a wrestler came in that championship victory, as well as winning a World Cup match against the Soviet Union”s best wrestler, Akmed Atodov, in 1987.

Robie wrestled for Edinboro, graduating in 1997. He was a two-time All-American, and was the runner-up at NCAAs in his senior season.

Robie thinks that the success of the two coaches is a great help to the young Wolverines.

“I think that when you”re an accomplished wrestler and then you get into coaching, they really have more of a propensity to believe you,” Robie said. “They know that a lot of the stuff we”re telling them, we”ve done in the past, and it worked for us.”

“The thing about being a good wrestler and wrestling with the USA team is that we had exposure to so many other great athletes,” Trost said. “So you learn from all these other people and there might be some little things that you can do to help our guys.”

Both assistants find rewards in both coaching and competing. The joy of seeing a protg succeed is particularly gratifying.

“I really like to see the guys get to the point where they reach their personal best. I know when I got there myself, it was a great feeling to know that I really excelled at that time,” Trost said.

Even though both Robie and Trost have aspirations of one day becoming a head coach, they know that their situation is about as good as it could get as an assistant.

“With the university behind us and the resources, and the rest of the coaching staff and the athletes we already have here, I think we can do real, real well,” Robie said.

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