Westmoreland Alumni Q&A with Ian Oswalt

The former Burrell standout wrestler is a redshirt sophomore season at Brown University

Fri Feb 23, 2024 - 8:43AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Burrell's Ian Oswalt (right) has posted an 11-15 record this season with Brown University.Burrell's Ian Oswalt (right) has posted an 11-15 record this season with Brown University.

Last Updated: Fri Feb 23, 2024 - 8:47AM

For nearly two decades, the Burrell Buccaneers have dominated the WPIAL wrestling landscape. Burrell has enjoyed nearly unprecedented team success, but an array of individuals have also thrived for the Bucs. Among those standouts is Ian Oswalt, a four-time district champion at Burrell who is now a fixture in the lineup at Brown University. Oswalt is in the spotlight for this week’s installment of the Westmoreland Alum Q&A.

Oswalt established himself among the elite in the WPIAL as a freshman in 2017-18. That season, he competed at 113 pounds and achieved a mark of 47-10. That success included winning the sectional and capturing WPIAL Class 2A gold, and he also took third and fourth, respectively, in the Southwest Regional and the PIAA competition. His Buccaneers squad, meanwhile, secured the WPIAL Class 2A team title.

The following year, Oswalt moved up to 120 pounds and improved his mark to 48-4, which included once again claiming the section and WPIAL crown. Oswalt also took first in the Southwest Regional, but placed fifth in the state bracket. Additionally, the Buccaneers again reigned supreme as the WPIAL Class 2A champs.

In 2019-20, Oswalt posted a record of 45-7, wrestling at 132 pounds. He took gold in the sectional and WPIAL, and finished as runner up in both the regional and state brackets. Collectively, the Buccaneers once again captured the WPIAL crown in Class 2A.

As a senior, Oswalt compiled a mark of 26-3, which included finishing first in the section and at the WPIAL competition at 138 pounds. Like the previous year, Oswalt took silver in the Southwest Regional and the PIAA Championships. Burrell, meanwhile, captured its 15th WPIAL team title in a row.

Oswalt concluded his high school wrestling career with a record of 166-24, winning four section titles and four WPIAL titles, and placing at states in all four seasons, as well.

Following high school, Oswalt matriculated to Brown University for the 2021-22 season, when he redshirted.

Back on the mat for the 22-23 campaign, Oswalt compiled a record of 6-15 at 141 pounds, including four wins in dual matches. The Bears collectively went 4-10 overall, including a mark of 3-6 in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA). In the conference tournament, Brown finished tied for 15th place.

This season, Oswalt has gone 11-15, while Brown has sputtered to a mark of 1-9 overall, including 0-7 in conference competition.

Ian took time from his hectic schedule to answer questions about having a high school teammate with him at Brown, the incredible success of Burrell, and a little-known fact about him.

Q: Your record has improved from last season. What have been the biggest factors in that?

A: I believe that my commitment to being the best possible version of myself, on and off the mat, has been a huge factor. Another factor that has played a crucial role in my improvement is the addition of Max Murin and Micky Phillippi to the staff. Growing up in the same area, I looked up to both of them and would be in the same practice rooms, so having these high-level guys to wrestle with and mentor me has helped me tremendously. Being more confident in my wrestling and training has also played a large role in my improvement.

Q: How would you describe your wrestling style?

A: I would describe my style of wrestling as funky, dynamic and relaxed. I wrestle my best when I get to my best areas and focus on wrestling the positions I’m in.

Q: What were the biggest adjustments from high school wrestling to college competition?

A: The biggest adjustments from high school to college wrestling have been the consistency of high level-competition and the mental aspect of competing.

Q: Your high school teammate, AJ Corrado, is also on the team. What is the significance of having him as a teammate again?

A: I think having someone to relate to or understand your background has been a significant part of both our college experiences. I also hope it is inspiring to other student-athletes at Burrell to know that they can strive for high level academics and athletics after their high school careers.

Q: What team and individual goals did you establish for this season?

A: I established many goals before the season started, but becoming a national qualifier and striving to be the best wrestler I can be are two that stick out the most. With two more years of eligibility after this season, focusing on improving as a wrestler overall will lead me to my ultimate goals of being an NCAA All-American. Having multiple NCAA qualifiers and beating Harvard are amongst the team goals I set.

Q: What led to your decision to attend Brown?

A: Brown’s open curriculum and the overall culture of the school led to my decision to attend Brown.

Q: What is your major, and ideal future profession?

A: I am studying environmental science at Brown, specifically the conservation and policy track. I am not set on one specific job, but I’d like to work with a nonprofit advocacy and policy group.

Q: You have received recognition for your academic excellence. What does that mean to you?

A: Getting good grades is important to me because it shows persistence and a strong work ethic, but in my understanding, good grades don’t entirely encapsulate total academic excellence.

Q: You were part of a dynasty program at Burrell. What are the biggest factors in the sustained success of the Bucs?

A: I think having an incredible staff and resources has been very important, but also the vigorous training the team is put through, not many teams do it the way Burrell does.

Q: What was your fondest high school memory?

A: Without a doubt, my fondest high school memory would be when Cole Clark pinned his kid to beat Chestnut Ridge in our home gym on criteria to place top four in the state as a team. Gives me chills…

Q: Who was the toughest WPIAL opponent you faced in high school?

A: I’ve wrestled a lot of tough WPIAL opponents but I think Wyatt Henson (of Waynesburg Central) is probably the one I struggled with the most in high school.

Q: If you could change one rule about college wrestling, what would it be? Why?

A: I would get rid of the mandatory headgear rule, as I think it should be up to the athlete to decide what is best for them.

Q: To which movie or TV show can you recite nearly every line?

A: Home Alone.

Q: What is a little-known fact about you or a hidden talent you possess?

A: I’ve actually been plant-based/vegan since the beginning of my college career at Brown. It is something that I have become very passionate about, both morally and environmentally.