Meek foresees better times to come at Oregon State
Winning is something that has just come natural for Logan Meek.
Outwork your opponent before you ever get on the mat and then never give in once you’re on it, those are principles that carried the Central Point wrestler into rare territory as a prep standout.
Meek wrapped up his Crater High career in 2018 as only the second Comet to become a three-time state champion en route to a 154-7 overall record.
He won Oregon’s triple crown three times, and twice was named the Class 5A wrestler of the year before he signed on to compete in Oregon State’s wrestling program.
Those moments, however, feel like eons ago after Meek wrapped up his redshirt freshman season with the Beavers in March with a 4-17 record at 157 pounds.
That’s more losses than he’s likely endured in the prior years combined since first donning a singlet.
“It was not how I wanted it to go,” Meek said of his first full season in OSU’s lineup. “It was rough.”
If you wanted, you could find plenty of reasons why things didn’t go well for Meek.
At the beginning of the season, OSU’s expected 157-pounder decided to take a redshirt year and the Beavers needed to fill that void. Meek was asked by his coaches if he’d be willing to go up in weight class from his usual 149-pound division, and agreed to the move.
As someone who barely walks around at about 160 pounds, the 5-foot-10 Meek quickly found himself outmatched, picked up a few nagging injuries but never let in night after night for the Beavers, even if it was rarely his night.
While plenty of athletes would fall back on those excuses and beg to be pitied, Meek wasn’t having any of that.
It was his job to go out and compete, and his job to get good enough to where the tide finally turned his way.
“It wasn’t fun, especially traveling on the road and traveling across the country just to lose,” said Meek, who turns 21 in July. “It sucks and it’s hard, but there’s nothing I can really do about it. I just had to keep going and keep trying to get better and keep pushing through so I don’t let it happen again next year.”
Each night offered Meek exactly the lessons he needed to hopefully one day soon become the best he can be.
“You’ll learn more from losses than you will from wins,” he said. “If you go out there and just beat someone up, you don’t really get to look back at it and say, ‘Oh, I need to do this better.’ But when you lose, you can go back and say, ‘Oh, I was losing this position and this is why I lost here.’”
That’s precisely the mindset newly hired Oregon State head coach Chris Pendleton wants his wrestlers to possess.
“One of the keys to athletics, especially a sport like wrestling with the physical nature and isolation that you feel being the only one out there on the mat, is to mentally protect your mind,” said Pendleton, who spent his last six seasons as an assistant coach at Arizona State. “His record might not have been the greatest last year and, speaking as an outsider, I would recommend to him that he’s got to reestablish his mental mindset by having those small victories and little defeats.”
“Grit, to me, is one of the defining traits of an NCAA champion,” added Pendleton, “and one of the mottos that I like using is grit is developed through repeated successful failures. I know that’s contradictory, but you can have a lot of success out of your failures. Every great athlete I’ve been around has learned from those losses, and that’s a process that Logan’s got to understand.”
Meek said he plans to use the knowledge gained from a year of hard knocks to make him that much sharper and better off once he returns to his regular 149 weight class next season.
“It was a rough year but I learned a lot this year and I’m excited for next year,” he said. “I think the biggest thing after getting my butt kicked all year is I just got a lot tougher so next year I’m going to have that edge and that fight because I don’t want to go through another season like that.”
“I learned a lot, but I think the biggest thing was getting better on bottom and being able to get out from under bigger kids,” added Meek. “Once I’m back at my fighting weight, I think I’m going to be beating kids up.”
That outspoken confidence and hunger toward getting back to work has come through loud and clear during the team’s Zoom meetings amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
“I haven’t gotten to meet Logan in person, but we’ve had a couple conversations on Zoom,” said Pendleton, who was hired March 30 and has had to endure a unique start to his OSU career. “I think he’s extremely excited about the opportunity coming forward.”
“Right now as I’m going through the process of hiring different coaches,” added Pendleton, “Logan is an athlete that I’m keeping my mind on as far as who do I bring in to help mentor and mold a kid like this. So far his energy has been contagious. Even in all of our team Zoom meetings, he’s one that likes to speak up and speak his mind and I appreciate that and respect it. He brings a lot of excitement and enthusiasm to the team and I can’t wait to keep building that relationship.”
The feeling is mutual for Meek, who went 9-4 at open tournaments during his 2019 redshirt year and is excited about the new energy Pendleton brings to the program.
“He seems super fired up and super excited to get his hands on us and work with us,” said Meek of his new coach. “I think he’s going to be great. He has a good background as a coach and as a wrestler, and he’s got a lot of freestyle experience, too, which is cool because that’s something I’ve always liked.”
Always steady on his feet, Meek said he was forced to get even better with his hand-fighting and picking of spots to attack this past season.
“Wrestling the bigger guys, I had to be a lot more technical,” said Meek, who carries a 3.0 grade-point average. “I couldn’t just go in there and bully kids like I did in high school, where I was able to just kind of control everyone. I had to be really technical and pick my spots so I’ve gotten a lot better at that.”
Now it’s just a matter of time, more training and an expected boost by Pendleton and his soon-to-be-announced staff to get Meek and the entire Oregon State program back to the upper echelon of the Pacific-12 Conference.
“It’s going to be a good change with coach Pendleton coming in,” said Meek. “We’re definitely going to make some jumps. We were young last year and we’ve got some studs already and we’ve got some studs coming in, too.”
“Honestly, it is really good timing to make a change,” he added, “because we’re going to be able to get through the transition and then still have a couple years left to really make a difference and make jumps individually and as a team. I can’t tell you how ready I am to get Oregon State back on top and to be a part of all that.”