We took 14 guys to the Hokie Open on Sunday. It was our first competition and my first as a head coach for a division 1 NCAA wrestling team. There were about 300 competitors in the event. We were able to see several division 1 teams from the area as well as Ohio and Air Force making the longest trips.
In a word I guess the experience was humbling. We finished with one place winner. Frankie McLaughlin finished 5th going 5-2 on the day. He is good and I think made some positive gains as a result of this competition. Our overall record as a team was 15-28.
There were definitely positives. I was pleased with the effort guys gave during their matches. Other coaches and an official told me they were impressed with the fight our guys had. Wrestling hard will be part of our team makeup. In several matches, win or lose, our guys scored last. I was proud of their effort and ability to keep fighting in the 3rd period.
I was also pleased to see, as a coaching staff, that our perceived weaknesses in the practice room were certainly the same things we saw in live competition. We have been working on the correct things. We just need lots more work to overcome the deficiencies.
With the new NCAA start date of October 10 and with our limited practice space and time, I think the tournament of this quality was too early for our team. I will have to think about what to do in the future with our schedule. The guys need to be tested, but was this too early? In the long run, if we use this tournament as a learning experience, we can grow quicker because of the experience. I just need to make sure the guys stay confident and believe we are headed in the right direction.
The good thing about competition is it exposes things to you in a very public manner. Guys will hopefully have a sense of urgency. In the future, I hope some of the technical issues can be solved in the spring and summer. It is difficult to solve some of them in the heat of the season. We need to worry about more during the season and there is less time to spend working on technique.
It was also great to spend time on the road together. The school requires us to use buses. This is new to me. I was shocked how nice the bus was. We definitely rode in style. I felt spoiled.
As the new guy, it is fun getting to know the guys on the team. We have some characters. We have guys with lots of different personalities and backgrounds. I am not sure I agree with their taste of movie selections for the bus ride, but it is nice spending time together as a team.
We compete at Binghamton on Saturday for a dual and on Sunday for a tournament. We will take a bigger squad. We will be better than we were last week. We are trying to improve 1% per day. If we do that, we will be pretty good come March tournament time.