What a crazy week.
I know we elected the President this week, but we also had a busy week at George Mason University. Tuesday I arrived at my polling station at 6am. I figured I would beat the rush to vote. I did. It only took me about 1.5 hours to register my vote. Turns out the lines got much longer. I spoke to the team prior to Tuesday about the importance of voting. I hope they got it done.
Later on Tuesday, our club hosted our inaugural Paul Maltagliati golf tournament. The weather was cold, but the event was great. The committee who organized the event did a great job. We are in good hands with the directors of the Patriot Elite Wrestling club.
We finally had our first team competition of the year. We competed at Gardner-Webb on Saturday. We wrestled Virginia in the first dual. We were out manned in this dual. Virginia is a very talented team. They have good skills. They were aggressive. We have a ways to go to catch Virginia.
In our second dual we wrestled Gardner-Webb. They beat us as well. I was frustrated watching our guys compete in this dual because they out hustled us. They wanted it more than we did. We can control our attitude and effort when we compete. We were deficient in both areas.
After the two duals we drove to Boone, NC. I had no clue how pretty it was in Boone. That night in the hotel we had a long team meeting. As a general rule, I prefer to let things settle a little before I talk too much to the team. Nevertheless, I felt we needed to make some corrections before the dual the next day at Appalachian State.
We talked about some technical things like trying to always improve positions while wrestling, try to win positions, and try not to concede positions. We made mistakes in our first 2 duals holding on for stalemates and conceding positions too easily. We need to improve technically. Guys must spend more time outside of practice drilling, studying video, sparring.
We talked about making sure we did all the little things right. It seems trivial at times, but it does make a difference. The margin for error can be minimal, so the little things need to be done correctly. I told the guys I give them latitude on most things to make their own decisions, but if I feel it is important enough to tell them to do something; I expect them to do it. They need to trust the system. They need to believe in the program. We need to be able to trust each other.
We talked about controlling the things we can control. We need to give our best effort at all times. We need to have a good attitude.
We talked about things we can do to prepare better for competition. We talked about putting themselves in more uncomfortable positions in training, so when faced with it in competition, they are ready for it. Learn to take risks in practice. Learn to wrestle while fatigued in practice. Learn to wrestle in different positions in practice.
We emphasized the importance of how we carry ourselves on and off the mat. We talked about having the proper body language while competing. We talked about having the proper body language while watching our teammates compete. The team must support one another and carry themselves as winners.
I know the team has made big improvements. I wanted them to show it on the mat. We set a plan to show improvement the next day. I told them the schedule was designed to test their toughness early in the season. Back to back days of travel, making weight and competing would test their physical and mental toughness. It would help them prepare for the NCAA tournament.
The guys responded like champions on Sunday. They stepped up their game. They showed better effort, wrestled for each other, they showed more grit. It was fun watching the guys pull for one another. The bench was much more engaged. They had an us against the world mentality.
We often talk about how important bonus points are in a dual. We learned in this dual how a single match point can decide a dual. The team score ended in a tie. We left the arena thinking we had won the dual via criteria because we had scored more match points than the other team. It made for a fun 7 hour bus ride home. The next day we learned that not every match point matters. The criteria interpretation says match points in bouts that end with a pin or tech fall do not matter. It doesn’t make logical sense to me, but it is the rule interpretation. Nevertheless, winning or losing the dual was minor compared to the lessons the team learned this weekend. These lessons that can serve them well in life. I also believe we grew as a team. 0-3 for the weekend, but a better team and hopefully better men as a result. I will take that about anytime I can.
I was also pleased that 3 guys who are redshirting chose to attend an open competition on Sunday. We are not allowed to assist with guys going to open competitions. It is all on them. Red shirts can gain ground. These 3 guys have made a positive step forward.
Some individual highlights for me were watching 3 true freshman compete. I loved their effort. 2 of them finished the weekend 2-1.
I enjoyed watching Sahid Kargbo and Matt Meadows fight off their backs and fight back from 5 point deficits. Sahid’s come back was a little short, but nonetheless inspiring. Matt came all of the way back for the 10-9 win. They showed they have big hearts.
I had not planned on wrestling Jaaziah Bethea in the first week of competition. He has been recovering from an injury. He said he wanted to wrestle. I said we would get him a match or two, but I didn’t think he was ready. He ended up wrestling two tough opponents on Saturday and lost. I think it is partially my fault for putting doubts in his head. I decided I would not wrestle him on Sunday. Right before weigh ins, I had to make a change and needed him to wrestle. He got down to weight and competed without hesitation. He won a hard fought match for his team. He proved he was ready and that he would wrestle for his teammates.
I enjoyed watching Zach Isenhour wrestle a close match with a guy who beat him badly the year before. He is closing the gap.
Starting the pin pool this year, may be a bad thing, because we had 3 sophomores pick up pins this weekend. Ryan Hembury, Greg Flournoy and Jake Kettler all had pins. Jake’s pin was in the last match of our dual versus Appalachian State. His pin tied the team score. It was a fun way to end the dual. Rarely does it go that way, so we witnessed something special.
This week we need to continue to move forward. We will compete in our first tournament on Saturday at the Naval Academy. Then, on Sunday, we host our first home dual. I hope to see you at the RAC on Sunday at 2pm.