Scott Simmons

Ironwood Ridge linebacker Scott Simmons didn't get much time to enjoy the Nighthawks' first-ever state title.

After I-Ridge beat Peoria Centennial in the Division II football title game on Nov. 24, Simmons had to put his body into recovery mode to prepare for the grueling wrestling season.

Simmons said he won't wrestle competitively until sometime around Christmas - giving him about a month to get his body right.

Simmons has had to make that transition every year since he started wrestling in middle school, but it's not something that comes easily - even after working his way to a sixth-place finish at 182 pounds in last year's state wrestling tournament.

"I kind of got forced into figuring it out the first time I made the transition," he said.

Simmons said wrestling is "just a high school thing," and he's talked to several schools about playing football in college. But even though he won't wrestle at the next level, Simmons said the sport has helped him on the football field.

"I take my wrestling skills and they help me be quick and agile around bigger guys and linemen," he said.

I-Ridge wrestling coach Tim Berrier said Simmons will wrestle at 195 pounds once he joins the team, and that he "could be a state champ if he puts in the time to get into the right condition."

Here's a look at what Simmons has to adjust to make the move from football to wrestling:


It's not easy to find two sports that require as different types of conditioning as football and wrestling.

On the football field, Simmons said he'll go as hard as he can each play - they typically last between 4 and 7 seconds - before getting back to the line of scrimmage and getting about 30 seconds of rest.

But wrestlers can be required to go at it for minutes at a time - something that takes some getting used to after the football season.

"Football and wrestling shape are a lot different," Simmons said. "You just have to go into wrestling and get beat up for a couple weeks and the conditioning takes over."


While football and wrestling are two of the most physical sports around, they require different types of physicality. Because of the length of the rounds, wrestlers have to be able to pace themselves while knowing that one wrong move could cost them a match.

"Wrestling really kicks your (butt) right when you get back into it," Simmons said.

Simmons said he needs to make the transformation from carrying as much weight as he can while still maintaining his speed in football to as little weight as he can for wrestling.

"I need to be as compact as possible," he said.


Wrestling will be a nice mental break for Simmons, who said the sport is much more reaction-based than football.

"In wrestling, you just have to react and adjust on the fly," he said. "Football, there's a lot more preparation that goes in beforehand."

While football offers mental breaks between plays and during other stops in the action, there's no such luxury in wrestling. It's full-bore for the entire match, which can last up to eight minutes.

"Wrestling is just hard all the time," Simmons said. "If you let up for just a second, you're going to be on your back."

Berrier said that Simmons is able to translate a number of things between football and wrestling, but the biggest benefit is mental.

"A lot of the stuff, mentally, it's the same," Berrier said. "You get your tail handed to you every once in a while, but you've got to keep coming back."