Memorable Matches

Cheney Haight Learns Fear Is Not an Option

Cheney Haight
John Sachs/Tech-Fall.com

Welcome to “Memorable Matches”, a new feature on Five Point Move that puts a spotlight on a match or moment that made a difference in a wrestler’s career. The best part? It’s all coming at you in the athlete’s own words. For the first one, we tabbed multiple-time National Team member Cheney Haight, a man who has persevered through adversity in his career only to come back with renewed fire each time. Haight retired following the 2012 Olympic cycle but returned to competition a couple of years later and has once again been a force people pay attention to. He is also looking to make another World Team coming up in the fall

Memorable Matches – Cheney Haight

Setting: The Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, sight of the 2008 US Olympic Greco Roman Wrestling Trials
Opponent: TC Dantzler
Weight and round: 74 kg, best-of-three final

“”One of the matches I’m most proud of was back in 2008, actually the ones I lost against TC Dantzler. He sat out, so I ended up wrestling him in the finals. I ended up losing both my matches. They were in the old rules, you had to win two out of three periods and both matches went three periods. I think what I was most proud of was my mentality going into it. I kind of had an attitude like, I don’t really care win or lose, I’m just going to go after him as hard as I can. And I just felt like I wrestled without any fear.

“In the first match, no one ended up scoring on the feet. He ended up going down first and he tried to stand up off of my lock. It was tough wrestling him under those rules because he had a great reverse-lift and you started out in a reverse-lift lock. And then I actually threw him with a reverse-lift. But he got on top in the next 30-second par terre and and he threw me, so I lost the period. I won the next period by turning him in a front-headlock. In the third, he won by tilting me.

Cheney Haight vs TC Dantzler

Image: Jonathan Ferrey

“It felt like I had him gassed the whole time. Afterwards, it hurt right away because I did just put everything into it. But later on in life I was pretty satisfied because of that. I guess I just wasn’t ready to beat him at that time. There is no doubt in my mind I put everything into that final, it’s just that’s the way it happened.

“Going forward (what helped) was the mentality of how I should wrestle. I think there’s a lot of times when you get nervous you wrestle kind of cautious, wrestling more afraid to lose. I just knew that was the best I probably wrestled even though I lost. You’re doing all this training. In my opinion, wrestling is the hardest sport in the world. You’re battling every day in practice and I think there is no reason to be afraid before your match. There is no reason to hold back any because you earned your shot at that moment. Win or lose there shouldn’t be so much pressure on yourself. And I just thought after that match, there is no reason to put pressure on myself. It’s just me out there. I’m the one who did all the work, why am I so scared? It’s that mentality I picked up from that match.”

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