After four years, most students are looking to wrap up their college careers. Like most, last spring, Brian Perry had the chance to do just that.
With one quarter remaining and just a few units left, Perry could have graduated and put his time on the Farm behind him. Armed with an Economics degree, Perry could have been looking for a job to finance a life outside of Stanford. Instead, he was looking for one that would allow him to stay. The Cardinal 165-pounder had some unfinished business to take care of.
Back in 2003-04, Perry had a fast start to his Stanford wrestling career. After redshirting his true freshman season, Perry jumped into the starting line-up as a redshirt freshman and quickly made a name for himself at 165 pounds. He won 20 bouts, collected nine dual wins, pinned five opponents and finished fifth at the Pac-10 Championships, barely missing an NCAA trip. Perry's college career seemed to be on the right track.
The following year, however, things changed. Perry lost his starting spot at the beginning of his sophomore season and wrestled in just two duals over the next two years. He won just ten matches as a sophomore and nine as a junior. At the end of his redshirt junior season, he had a big decision to make.
"The last two years didn't go how I wanted," said Perry. "I didn't start. I just felt like I had something left to do. My love for wrestling was still there and I hadn't done what I wanted to do in college. I felt like it was incomplete to leave it at that last year. I knew that I was better than what my college career had shown. I wanted to come back and prove to myself that I could do it."
But it wasn't that easy. Perry had to stop going to school last spring and get a job to finance his decision. He stayed at Stanford all summer to work and train, determined to give whatever it took to finish his wrestling career right.
And the move paid off.
In October, he won his starting spot back. In November, he went a step further, establishing that he was not only the best Stanford 165-pounder, but one of the best in the nation. In his second bout of the year, Perry took the mat with No. 4 Deonte Penn of Edinboro, a returning All-American who finished fourth at the NCAA Championships in 2006. The Cardinal senior stepped up with an 11-8 decision over Penn, and showed that this season, he wasn't settling for mediocre.
The upset started an early season streak during which Perry won 11 of his next 12 bouts, and placed third at the Bison Open. Since then, Perry has become one of the most consistent wrestlers on the Cardinal squad, racking up 25 wins, 38 team points and a 10-3 record in dual meets. Tonight, in his last bout on the Farm, Perry will be looking to extend his six-match winning streak, and upset the conference's top-ranked 165-pounder.
"I'm more focused this year than I've ever been," said Perry. "I didn't necessarily train as hard as I could have the last two years and wasn't in as good of shape as I'm in now. This year, I really enjoy coming to practice, am having more fun and am working harder than I ever have."
Entering the final weekend of the regular season, Perry is ranked third in the Pac-10 at 165 pounds, and is aiming to cap his career with a top finish in the conference and his first trip to the NCAA Championships.
"I have nothing to lose," he says. "My goal to make it to nationals is very realistic. That's exciting and makes everyday fun."
A year's worth of hard work and sacrifice has put Perry right where he wants to be. Now, he is more than ready use his determination, training and experience to finish his Stanford career the way he wants.