Northwestern Wrestler on Path to Another Title

Senior grappler talks about wrestling, MMA and why Chicago is the best city.

Jake Herbert is a man on a mission. The Northwestern senior wrestler already has an NCAA championship under his belt, but after taking off a year to train for the Olympics, he is back with a vengeance. The Pennsylvania native is undefeated, and dominated his way through the vaunted Midlands Tournament with three pins and a 15-1 decision in the finals. In the thick of Big Ten dual meet season, Herbert took time out from training, studying and celebrating the Steelers' Super Bowl win to answer questions from NBC Chicago.

NBC Chicago: What got you into wrestling?
Jake Herbert: My father, he was a state champion for my high school in 1974 and then wrestled at Clarion

NBC: As a top recruit, you had your choice of many schools. Why Northwestern?
JH: I wanted the best wrestling, which is in the Big Ten, it's one of the best conferences, and Northwestern is the best combination of academics and athletics.

NBC: At Northwestern, you get to be so close to the city. What is your favorite part of living near Chicago?
JH: Not only do you have a college campus in Evanston, but there is so much to do and there it's easy to get around i can take the L anywhere. Within 45 minutes, I can be downtown, I can be anywhere. It's the perfect city for young people.

NBC: You're a Pittsburgher, so you must be happy about the Steelers win. What did you do to celebrate the Super Bowl?
JH: Yeah, I'm wearing my Steelers shirt now. The final minutes were nerve-wracking, but the last two minutes made it easier. I just went to my friend's house, and jumped up and down when they won.

NBC: Why wrestling? Why should other people try it?
JH: Touch my arm, and tell me you don't want to be a wrestler. Take my leg, and try to take me down. I beat people up for a living, and that's fun.

NBC: Many wrestlers, including Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and Brock Lesnar, have gone into mixed martial arts. Any chance you want to try MMA?

JH: Absolutely, I train a lot in Naperville at Overtime MMA, where Andrei Arlovski trains. I don't really know what I'm doing with jiu-jitsu but with my wrestling, I'll get it.

NBC: NCAA Championships are around the corner, on the third weekend of March. What will you do at NCAAs?
JHL: I'm gonna win. I've been there before, and had the perfect tournament when I won it last time. I finally put it together, but this time, it's going to be all pins and all technical falls.

Catch Jake Herbert and his wrestling teammates at Northwestern on February 20 against Ohio State at 7:00 p.m,, and against Iowa on February 22 at 2:00 p.m.

 Maggie Hendricks is a lifelong Chicagoan who dreams of having cauliflower ear. She also writes for Cage Writer, Yahoo! Sports' MMA blog, and Fourth-Place Medal, Yahoo! Sports' Olympic blog.

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