NCAA Tournament

We came up short at the NCAA Tournament. On paper we were supposed to go 0-4. I believed we could do better. Sadly, we did not.

Bagana wrestled well. He had the #3 seed on the ropes in the opening round. He was close to scoring the upset. He had people talking. In his first consolation bout, he lost in overtime to a guy who had pinned him during the regular season. The match was frustrating, because Bagana controlled much of the bout but made some mental errors that caused him to lose on the scoreboard. Little things make the difference in close matches. Bagana was certainly good enough to place. I will miss watching him compete. He is a fun wrestler to watch.

Vince had a tough first round draw. He wrestled a guy who ended up losing in the round of 12 for the second straight year (This year he lost to the first and third place guy in a close bout). Vince struggled making weight and seemed a little overwhelmed by the environment in his first bout. In his consolation bout, I felt he looked much better. The guys scored off of Vince’s attack to win. I think Vince has a much better understanding of what the national tournament is like and what he has to do to win. My hope is this experience will spur him on to greatness.

We had a few of the other guys attend the tournament as spectators. I had encouraged the team to attend. I believe it will help them succeed when it is their time. The more they take in the environment of the tournament, the more prepared they will be. I also think it helps give them a vision. I was excited listening to a few of them talk about their experience and how it has motivated them as a result.

Now that the season is over, it is a time for reflection. We need to analyze. What did we do right? What did we do wrong? How can we improve? There is lots of work to be done. We need to keep moving forward.

A few of my goals on the mat in year one were achieved. I had wanted to compete with a full line up in every competition. We were able to meet this goal. A few times, I had to move guys up a few weight classes, but we were able to put a guy on the mat. A few times, guys had to wrestle hurt. I appreciate the guys sacrificing for their team. It is a harder goal to achieve than one would think. I also wanted guys to wrestle a harder pace on the mat. I believe guys were making improvements in this area.

A few goals were not achieved. I was hopeful for better results. We lost some dual meets I felt we could win. I felt we could have qualified more guys for the national tournament and had guys win matches and place.

Off the mat we were able to reach some of our goals. I was pleased we were able to start a booster club. I was also pleased we were able to sell season tickets. We have worked hard to get the guys to understand that being elite requires you to commit to a lifestyle. Some of the guys are buying into it. We hope to get everyone on board.

We did falter in some of our off the mat goals this season. I had wanted to retain all 30 guys on the team (12 returners and 18 new guys). Typically, there is lots of turn over with a new coach. I had a goal to keep everyone who started the season. In the end, we had 26 guys on the roster. We lost guys due to academics, injury and life circumstances. Some things are out of our control, but some of the things were not. I also wanted to do a better job on the fundraising front, rallying alumni, and getting more people involved with the program. We need to improve our off the mat performance.

We are now headed into an important time with recruiting. The team will now change their focus to the international styles of wrestling. Our new club team will be training for Freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions. I will meet individually with every team member over the next few weeks. I will also meet with our advisory board to evaluate and plan for what we will get done in the spring and summer. The college season really never ends.

I have received positive feed back on this blog.  Thus, I will try to keep it going.  Please check back from time to time.  I probably won’t update it every Monday, but I will write as warranted this spring and summer.


3 thoughts on “NCAA Tournament

  1. Hi Joe,
    Here is my positive feedback on your blog: I counted on reading it after every event to keep up with Mason wrestling and to read and digest your thoughts about elite wrestling programs. I learned lots from the blog about high quality wrestling and made sure that my friend Jeff Kloetzer read your blog as well. I also wanted to keep track of you in your first year, which the blog helped me do. I was listening to an interview on the Minnesota site with Kevin Steinhaus. He said, “We always believe that we are in better condition than the guys we wrestle.” It was just like listening to you – conditioning, conditioning, conditioning! It has been such a treat for me to follow your progress. Good luck on the international season.
    Louise Daniels

  2. Hey Joe — I just caught up on your blog and the season ending. Just that goal of putting someone out on the mat in each weight class even if you had to move someone up into higher weight competition was good to read…..along with some empathy of what it must be like to go out there with someone weighing 10-15 pounds heavier. Good for you and your team. And, knowing you, each wrestler gained from spending the season in your presence. And, you feeling you gained from being there with them. Hope you enjoy the cherry blossoms. Dave Huberty

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