Ranked Brown back in circle after redshirt
Poised to make a return to the NCAA Tournament, fifth-year senior Lamar Brown wants to fulfill his dream of reaching the podium to put Rutgers wrestling in the national spotlight.
But even if he falls short of this accolade, Brown is still a poster child for hard work and determination.
Brown sustained injuries in a horrific car accident that took place between his freshman and sophomore years of high school, including a broken collarbone, two torn vertebrate retinas — one in each eye — and a lateral meniscus that tore twice before having to be completely removed from his left knee.
These are injuries that would have derailed anybody's hope of athletic stardom, but not Brown's.
After numerous rehabilitations Brown's hard work culminated in a fourth-place finish in the NJSIAA High School Championships in his senior year.
"I love the sport of wrestling and I know I have what it takes to take it to the next level," the Red Bank, N.J., native said. "My main goal is to get on the podium and to be a scholastic All-American for Rutgers. Right now, it's all about getting on the podium and making a name for myself, and that's what keeps me going. This is the year."
Fast forward to the present. Brown is the No. 19 nationally-ranked wrestler in the 197-pound weight class and third in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) behind Cam Simaz of Cornell and Richard Starks from Army.
"I couldn't begin to tell you where he was three years ago to where he is today," said head coach Scott Goodale. "It is like night and day. He should have a good year."
Two years ago, as a junior, Brown represented the Scarlet Knights in the 2007-08 NCAA Tournament.
After dropping his opening round match, he moved to the consolation bracket where he defeated Jacob Bryce of North Dakota State 11-5. In the next round, Brown squared off against Oregon State's Kyle Bressler. The Red Bank Regional alum found himself on the wrong side of a 4-2 decision, thus ending his tournament run.
Heading into the 2008-09 off-season, Brown and the coaching staff went back to look at each tournament match and see what areas needed improvement.
"We found that the main difference between me and the wrestlers that placed was experience," Brown said. "I had only wrestled two years in high school and then I came right here into a Division I program. It wasn't a huge difference but it was the main reason why we decided that I should redshirt."
For Brown, this meant that after a year he made the NCAA Tournament, he would sit out all of the regular season matches the following season to preserve his last year of eligibility in order to become stronger and faster.
"It killed me last year when I was sitting on the bench redshirting while watching everyone else wrestle," he said. "A lot of times it came down to my weight class and I wanted to be in there."
During his redshirt season, Brown worked hard on all facets of his game and was named a freestyle All-American over the summer.
Now in his final season at RU, Brown was back in action for the Knights this past Monday when he faced off against freshman Sam Kuntz at the team's annual Wrestle-Offs.
Brown handily won the decision, 10-3.
"He went out and did exactly what we asked him to do, and that was to score points," Goodale said. "He looked really fast and he looked good getting down to weight for the first time so we are excited about that. The main thing is that he has to continue to score points."
Brown was happy to be back in front of a crowd.
"I love performing here in front of the crowd, and that's what the crowd comes to see, a performance," Brown said of his first match back. "I tried not to let them down too much."
With the regular season just around the corner, Brown is prepared for his final season in red and black.
"I'm just going to wrestle. I never look into stats or what my opponent has done," he said. "It's a long season, and you [have] to stay motivated and work through it."
Brown said getting to the podium is going to take hard work and dedication — two of his stronger characteristics.
"I'm a fighter," he said.