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Five Star Performer: TJ Hepburn
This week's News Five 5 Star Performer bring us to the campus of UNK where soon to be 3 time All-American wrestler TJ Hepburn continues his pursuit of excellence.
The 149 pounder has his sight squarely set on the NCAA Division II National Championship.
That's Brooklyn Hepburn and her father TJ at Saturday's UNK wrestling match against Western State. Brooklyn's dad had just dominated yet another opponent leading the Lopers to yet another victory and securing a 3rd straight All-American honor.
The minute TJ came to campus from Colby Community College in Kansas, he's been one of the best wrestlers in the nation.
Having placed 3rd in 2010's NCAA Tournament, then TJ barely missing the National Championship last year losing the title in the last second. He finished 2nd in the nation. What a year for him.
"Yeah, you know I work hard now and my teammates push me so I'm ready to bring home that National Championship this year," said Hepburn.
Gosh, he was right there last year. He was taken down with three seconds on the clock. It was a heartbreaking kind of deal but he's going to be in the hunt again. There's no doubt about it, we just kind of have to keep him healthy and stay focused on what's important and obviously keeping an edge on his conditioning and watching his habits.
As TJ competes, his young family will soon grow with another child on the way. This Connecticut navie knows that family life just like his competition is a challenge for him.
"Ha, Ha, it's tough, we get through it like I said, fans and the community we got a lot of support. We couldn't do it without the help. Kearney's been good to us," said Hepburn.
"You know, anytime a young man like him has a family in college, you've got a little bit of a different perspective on things and he's very grounded and takes things very seriously and it shows in his work," said UNK Loper Wrestling Coach Marc Bauer.
TJ also gets inspiration form former Loper All-American and Olympic hopeful Tervel Dlegnev who's a guy TJ talks to all of the time.
"Yeah, you know I'm good friends with Tervel. If I need some advice I can call him and talk to him. He's helped me last year a lot with my weight. I had weight problems last year at 49, he gave me a couple of pointers two weeks ago so it's good having a guy like that as part of the program," Hepburn said.
So TJ Hepburn is a guy worth watching, a guy with tremendous ability and a guy that looks to be a success as a wrestler and of course a family man.
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