The unlikeliest qualifier: Joe Rau’s long, strange trip to Freestyle World Team Trials

It’s 11 at night and Elmhurst College’s Division III national champion Joe Rau is on the phone with three-time U.S. Greco-Roman World Team member Jordan Holm. The college senior wants to train in Greco with the Minnesota Storm after graduation. Holm suggests he come out to practice. The next morning. At 6 a.m. That’s a nearly six-hour drive. And it’s snowing, hard. But Rau doesn’t hesitate. He jumps in his Volkswagen Golf.

“I drove through a blizzard in April. I almost died,” said Rau.

It turns out the 6 a.m. practice was just a basketball game. The real practice, the one where he would be able to show his best wrestling to the Minnesota Storm coaches, was not until 3:30 p.m. Rau remembers that practice well.

“I was so tired I didn’t have to think at all, I just wrestled. I had an unbelievable practice.” Continue reading at