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‘Little Things’ Key to Big Bounceback for Penn State Wrestling’s Shakur Rasheed

on November 07, 2019 5:00 AM

From injuries to struggles to find the right weight class to competition breaking into the lineup, Penn State wrestling’s Shakur Rasheed has battled adversity throughout his college career. When he was granted a medical redshirt and sixth year of eligibility this summer, he was given one last chance at the goal that’s evaded him each year to date: a national championship.

He entered the NCAA Championships last season as the No. 2 seed at 184 lbs. but failed to medal or advance past the first day of competition. Part of his struggles could be attributed to a torn ACL he suffered mid-season and that had hampered his abilities all season. He missed significant time with the injury and wrestled with an awkward brace on his knee.

The injury that arguably cost him a shot at a national title in a year where 184 lbs. ended up being wide open was only the latest ailment to plague Rasheed. He dealt with a shoulder injury during the 2014-15 season while redshirting and then missed most of the 2016-17 season with another injury.

Although he declined to share whether he’s cleared to wrestle against Navy this weekend, Rasheed underwent surgery in the offseason and seems ready to follow through on his promise to throw “the biggest celebration of 2020 after Nationals,” which he made when he announced his medical redshirt this summer.

“It was a tough year last year, and I felt like I didn’t do what I wanted to do,” he said at the team’s preseason media availability Tuesday. “I came here with a purpose. My purpose was to win a national title.”

Rasheed was granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA to come back for his final season along with teammate Anthony Cassar. However, the upper-weighted duo’s seasons ended in quite different fashions last year. Cassar won a national title, while Rasheed was eliminated after three matches.

“Our situations are a little different because before last year we had the same goals. Between us two, he accomplished that goal and I did not,” Rasheed said. “He didn’t have to come back. Me, I feel like I had to come back.”

The post-surgery rehab was a difficult road for Rasheed. At first, he had to crawl around the house just to be able to get things like water. But he said that how humbling the process has been had made him better and stronger. It’s also helped him identify an area he wants to focus on: taking care of his health.

“I’ve learned what I should be doing as opposed to what you don’t think matters,” he said. “Sometimes, you’re going about your day and think having a little candy bar is okay, but little things like that add up. I’m trying to do all the little things to make sure that I’m injury-free.”

All of Rasheed’s ups and downs have ultimately lead him to a good place heading into his final season for the Nittany Lions. The adversities he’s overcome have made him realize the importance of appreciating everything more throughout the year.

“[The adversity] has taught me a lot,” he said. “It definitely has taught me to appreciate everything a little more. I think throughout the years, I decided to take for granted little things.

“Now that I have this year, I realize all of the adversity I go through, through injury and things like that. So, I realize how important it is to do the little things coaches tell us to do and I just got to listen to those and stay healthy for this year.”

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