Former Dakota star Josh Alber still learning to lose at top college … – Freeport Journal

Josh Alber stepped onto the mat to face 182 opponents over his high school wrestling career.

He never walked away a loser.

But at Division I University of Northern Iowa, Alber has had to learn how to lose. And, more importantly, learn how to bounce back from a loss.

It’s still a work in progress for the red-shirt sophomore out from Dakota High School.

It’s not that he’s losing a lot. He has an impressive 57-19 record over three seasons. But those 19 have still been pretty hard to swallow.

“I haven’t really mastered it yet, and even up through last year I really struggled with it, everytime I lost,” the former four-time IHSA state wrestling champ said. “I’m getting better, though. Last year, any loss would have torn me up. This year, I’m still not good with it, and I don’t want to talk about it, but I’m kind of learning to learn from them.”

Alber lost his second match of his first tournament in college. He went on to post a 22-5 record as a freshman during his red-shirt year (wrestlers are allowed to compete as independents during their red-shirt year), and then went 27-12 last year, posting a 10-4 dual record and a 5-3 mark in Mid-American Conference duals.

This year, he’s suffered two losses, both of which he says were hard to bounce back from. Before his “upsetting loss” in his last match — an 8-6 defeat to an unranked wrestler from Wisconsin on Dec. 11 — he had climbed up to No. 19 in the D-I national rankings at 133 pounds.

Now he’ll have to work his back up.

“I’m trying, but it’s still a battle for me,” he said. “Some people look at losing as a learning experience, I see it as a tragedy.

“But I am finding ways to get better at it. Before it used to be life and death. Now I know it’s just a wrestling match. That doesn’t take away from my passion for the sport, but it helps me get over losses a little quicker.”

He had plenty of time to stew over his latest defeat — he will have had three weeks off from his last match before the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which begins Sunday. But, he insists, he handled the loss better this time than maybe at any other point in his career.

He hasn’t let it get him down, but he has used it to fuel his preparation for the Southern Scuffle — which happens to be what he called the team’s biggest tournament before the postseason.

Alber is 8-2 this season and he has the rest of this year and two more seasons of eligibility after that. But he doesn’t want to just sit around and wait for his “big season” to come to him. He’s going after everything he can right now.

“I’m not really a guy that’s into records and stuff; I just find ways to win,” Alber said. “But I’m also not one to wait for my next opportunity, and to be patient with it all. Then you just end up saying ‘Next year will be my year; next year will be my year.’ I think that way every year, every match.

“Right now, when I’m at my best, nobody can beat me. So now is my time.”

Jay Taft: 815-987-1384; jtaft@rrstar.com; @JayTaft

 

Josh Alber: By the numbers

182: High school opponents defeated

0: High school foes who defeated him

4: State titles while at high school at Dakota

33: Wins at the college level

13: Losses since getting to college

19: Highest ranking he rose to this year at 133 pounds