Bennett: A different sort

Published: March 04, 2006 12:31 am print this story

Bennett: A different sort

By ERIC KNOPSNYDER The Tribune-Democrat At times, wrestling looks so easy for Westmont Hilltop freshman Zac Bennett that it seems he must be in a trance.

He’s not, but he probably was the night before.

Bennett, the District 6 champion who advanced to the Southwest Regional semifinals with a second-period technical fall over Charleroi’s David Grillo on Friday night, puts himself in a hypnotic state each night before he goes to bed.

“When you’re getting tired, you give yourself suggestions,” Bennett said. “If there is a bad wrestling trait, I can try to change that by using hypnosis.”

There certainly are not many bad traits evident in Bennett’s wrestling. He improved to 34-2 after getting a first-round forfeit and then defeating Grillo.

Bennett said he discovered hypnosis by accident last fall.

He described how he entered a hypnotic state while at a haunted house in a Florida amusement park.

Since then, he’s studied up on it, reading books on the subject.

Some concentrate solely on sports hypnosis.

“It’s surprising how many athletes on all different levels use sports hypnosis,” Bennett said.

“In one sports book that I’m reading, it says that there are two middleweight boxers that use it right before they box. But, I wouldn’t want to do it before I wrestle, because when you wake up, you feel very relaxed.”

Bennett doesn’t keep his talents to himself. He estimates that he has hypnotized about 20 people so far, including three for a school project.

He also hypnotizes 130-pound teammate Kyle Patton.

“Whenever we do it for Kyle, it’s usually because he’s sore or he’s not feeling good because he’s cutting weight,” Bennett said. “I can relieve that stress.”

One person who hasn’t given in to Bennett’s persuasive powers is Westmont coach Matt Beaujon.

“He’s said about 20 times this year ‘Coach, let me hypnotize you,’ ” said Beaujon, who hasn’t relented.

“It’s a long process. It takes like 20 minutes. I just don’t have the time.”

Bennett doesn’t think he’ll ever talk his coach into it.

“He doesn’t really believe in it,” Bennett said. “You can’t hypnotize someone unless they’re willing to be hypnotized. He wouldn’t open up his mind.”

But Beaujon is willing to let his star pupil practice on others.

“There’s always someone saying ‘Zac’s in the back, trying to hypnotize so-and-so,’ ” Beaujon said. “And I’m like ‘Just don’t let anybody get hurt.’ ”

Eric Knopsnyder can be reached at 532-5080 or eknopsnyder@tribdem.com.