We hosted Northern Colorado on Friday night. They had competed earlier in the week at the Southern Scuffle and then traveled to Fairfax. They wrestled Drexel at 530pm. We wrestled them shortly after their dual with Drexel. We won the dual 18-17.
We had a hard week of training leading up to the match. I was concerned about how the hard training would impede our performance. It was noticeable, but expected, the guys were a little flat. I do think getting in the extra training will help us later in the year. It was a risk, but a risk we felt worth taking as a coaching staff.
Even though we won the dual, I was discouraged by some of effort and attitude displayed by some of the guys, especially on bottom. I have always felt bottom wrestling has lots to do with attitude. I think some guys failed to put forth the effort to get off bottom. Guys need to move until they get away. Lack of movement can come back to haunt you at the wrong time. Saving energy on bottom is a dangerous thing to do. We did it and it hurt us.
In a few matches we gave up scores near the end of a period. Instead of hustling, we were content to try and rest until the end of the period. I often talk to the guys about how important the last 20 seconds of a period are for the bottom and top guy. If you ride, it is almost like getting an additional point. If you get away, it is a point the guy usually doesn’t have time to get back. It is huge. You can also win the mental and physical game by hustling on bottom. You send the message you will wrestle hard all 7 minutes. You can wear down your opponent physically and mentally.
A few highlights from the dual were Rich Lavorato winning in overtime. His opponent shot in overtime. Instead of sprawling and squaring his hips like we teach, he turned his hips and hit a whizzer throw. I remember yelling “no, no, no,” but as the guy landed on his back I changed it to “yes, yes, yes.” I was also pleased by the effort by which Seth Robertson rode his opponent. He used extra effort to repeatedly lift his opponent and return him to the mat. Often time, if a guy repeatedly gets to his feet the top guy concedes and releases his opponent. It is too much work. Seth used a different mindset and refused to let his opponent go. His mindset, led to a victory for him and the team.
Corey Smith was the last guy to compete. Right before the match I told him what he needed to do for the team to win. I have done this before to guys and it makes it very difficult on them when they go out to compete. It really shows you how mentally grueling a wrestling match is. When I have done it before, it really messes with a guy mentally. I know it negatively affected Corey’s performance. He sacrificed for his team. He could not give up a major for us to win. He had to be very careful in how he wrestled. Corey stepped up and did his job for the team. It was definitely tough on him mentally.
As a coach, I am unsure if it is fair to put this type of pressure on a wrestler, but I really feel it is important for them to know what is on the line. I am not a sports psychologist, but it is an interesting situation. You can definitely see how powerful the mind is. Telling a guy he cannot go to his back at any cost or that he has to hold his opponent to a regular decision definitely causes a guy to think too much. The mind is an amazing thing.
In the end, we were on the positive side of a learning situation. Lots of the scenarios you talk about in a team competition played out. Every match was important. Getting or giving up bonus points mattered. Every guy contributed to the team win, even if they lost their individual match. Every guy either scored or saved a team point. It truly was a team win.
On Saturday, the team went in two different directions. 9 guys went and competed in some exhibition matches at Washington and Lee University. They had to treat it like an open competition. They did it on their own. I was impressed by the leadership shown by Shohei Takagi in organizing a team of guys to go compete. I think they got better as a result of competing in this unattached event. The remainder of the team and Coach Owen helped the University run an indoor track meet. By working the event, our guys raised money for the wrestling program. I have received numerous compliments on the job the guys did. It is great to hear the team representing themselves in a positive manner.
We will compete at home again this Friday. We will host a tri-meet we named the Patriot duals. Cleveland State University (CSU) and Brown University (BU) will compete at 4pm. We will wrestle BU at 530pm and then we will wrestle CSU at 7pm. I hope you are able to come out and support the team Friday, January 11 at the RAC.