We departed from George Mason at 5:30am (I was up much earlier – buying food for the boys at the grocery store at 4am) on Saturday morning to get to the Naval Academy for weigh ins for the Navy Classic. It was my first time at the Naval Academy. The place is beautiful. There were 7 teams at the tournament. Teams were allowed to bring more than their 10 starters. We brought 13. Overall, we finished in 6th place. The guys won 12 individual matches, 5 of which were by pin. I was most impressed by Ty Knepp, Shohei Takagai, and Zach Isenhour. They finished 2nd, 4th and 4th respectively.
We are getting better. It is noticeable. I have had several people compliment the guy’s effort level. As a coach, it is pleasing to hear. We still have a long way to go, but if we keep working hard and have the right attitude, we will get there.
We struggled this weekend in some key areas mentally. Guys take mini-breaks in matches. Good wrestlers capitalize on their opponents mini-breaks. We need to eliminate our mini-breaks and capitalize on the mental lapses of our opponents. Guys need to fight as hard as they can at all times. Human nature causes us to take the easy way out, wrestle with less intensity, put our head down, get frustrated, and succumb to fatigue… When you do these things in a match, your opponent can take advantage. A mini-break can be less than a second. Nevertheless, it can be the difference in a match.
We also struggled with our demeanor while competing. Our body language was not the best. We let guys out hustle us. I want our guys to push the pace during a match, but also push the pace between whistles. I want our guys to be the first guy ready to wrestle. I want them waiting on their opponent. Too many times this weekend we were slow to return to the center and slow to get set on bottom. Opponents can gain energy because they believe you are fatigued and not ready to wrestle. In contrast, if you are waiting on your opponent, you can be perceived as a machine. I also think the guy who hustles will get respect from the officials and anyone watching the match. It is imperative that we improve our demeanor on the mat. Win or lose, when you wrestle a Mason guy you know you are going to wrestle a guy that hustles.
This weekend we will be hosting a wrestling clinic. We are doing this mainly as a fundraiser and for community outreach. The entire team will participate. We will all donate our time. Every cent raised will go back to the George Mason Wrestling Team budget. After the clinic, we will hold a public practice for those in attendance. I like getting the team to practice in front of a crowd, so they get extra stress and learn how to deal with it. Teaching technique will help their wrestling IQ. Practicing in front of a crowd will simulate competition atmosphere. It will be a good day for growth.
We have also started selling season passes for our home competitions. This has not been done at George Mason for several years. I am excited about getting people to our home duals. The bigger the crowd the more fun it is for the team. It is also important to show the community and school that George Mason wrestling is valuable. I am hopeful we sale at least 200 season tickets. If we do so, this would be a huge positive statement for this program. Tickets are cheap – $15 for the season. All the money raised goes to help pay for scholarships. If interested please go to gomason.com or call 703/993-3270. Help us reach our goal.