This weekend was good for Mason Wrestling. Friday we traveled to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania for the Bloomsburg duals. We took 19 wrestlers. It was good to be together as a team. On Saturday we were able to win 2 of 3 duals. Our first dual was against East Stroudsburg. Each team won 5 matches. We won thanks to bonus points. Isenhour and Barnette won by major decisions. McLaughlin and Hembury won by pins. We lost our dual against Bloomsburg. We certainly had opportunities to win the dual, but we did not capitalize. Our last dual of the day was against Sacred Heart University. They wrestled us hard, but had to forfeit some weight classes, which put us in the position of being almost assured of victory before the dual even started.
As a long time wrestling fan, it has been fun going to schools I have not been to before and spending time with wrestling people I have not met or seen too often. I have really enjoyed speaking to other coaches and learning from them. This weekend I was able to learn from the Bloomsburg coaches about running a similarly funded program. I was able to speak with the Sacred Heart coach who is trying to run a program while also being a full-time professor. He coaches because he wants the wrestlers to have an opportunity to compete at a division 1 school. I was impressed by his selflessness.
Sunday we competed at the Penn State Open. I believe this was the toughest tournament we have been to this season. It was an eye-opener for the team. We did not fair too well on the mat. We need to learn and believe we belong amongst the elite in wrestling. We can compete with them down the road. There is no reason to take a back seat and if we do the work day in and day out, we can close the gap.
Over the years, I have had some fun days and not so fun days in State College. I have coached in some exciting matches. Being part of the 2001 National Dual meet championship team that won in State College and coaching Tim Hartung as he won the 1999 NCAA title at 197 pounds are some of my fondest memories. On the flip side, one of my toughest days as a coach, was also in 1999 at Penn State when Minnesota finished 2 points behind Iowa at the NCAA Championships. Sunday was also a tough day. My head assistant coach sent me a text while seated in front of me on the bus that read, “First time in my life I’ve been on a bus leaving before the tournament was over.” I guess that summed up the day pretty well.
This week we are excited to host our first competition. Saturday night at 7:30pm we will wrestle the 7th ranked team in the country, American University. We are trying to make it a big event. The Patriot Club will be hosting a pre-match social for alumni. We are trying to start a wrestling booster club. We are selling season tickets. We will have a half-time. There will be entertainment. There will be incentives for students to attend the dual. It will be a tall order for our team on the mat, but if the wrestlers give us their best effort and have a great attitude, we will definitely provide the fans with a reason to cheer.
From a marketing stand point, I am happy to report (as of last week) we have sold 59 season tickets. While it is certainly still below our goal, we are working hard to get people to attend. The cost for a season ticket is only $15. We have seven home dates and will wrestle 12 different teams. Season Ticket holders will be able to watch all seven CAA teams compete at the CAA duals. Season ticket holders will get preferred seating. As one alumni told me, the season tickets are a great stocking stuffer idea. If you are so inclined, I encourage you to become a season ticket holder.