Maryland

We wrestled Maryland on Thursday night. We lost 23-15. The guys did a good job of working hard during their matches. Sahid Kargbo pinned his opponent. Jaaziah Bethea beat one of his current teammate’s twin brother. Yes, it is true, Ian Squires attends Maryland. Drew Squires attends George Mason University. I was also pleased to see both Greg Flournoy and Jake Kettler win their matches by gaining riding time in the 3rd period. Winning with riding time isn’t the prettiest way to win, but it does take effort and skill to hold your opponent down.

Believe it or not, the regular season is now over. Life moves too quickly sometimes. Now is the fun part of the year. The guys have begun their training for the CAA and NCAA Tournament. It should be a fun ride.

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Old Dominion University

Guys wrestled with greater effort at Old Dominion. I was pleased to see them improve mentally from the previous week. There was a greater belief they could compete for 7 minutes. We lost the dual 25-6, but did gain some confidence. I was pleased to see Greg Flournoy wrestle with great focus for 7 minutes. He can do great things. I was also pleased to see Jake Kettler score 5 points at the end of the match to win. If there is time on the clock, there is time to score. Jake showed the team it can be done by wrestling all 7 minutes.

We struggled most with our offense on our feet and getting out from on bottom. We have spent many hours working on our ability to escape or reverse our opponents. We will continue to do so, until we have solved the problem. This week we will concentrate on two key areas: Attitude and Plan.

When we are on bottom we need to have a sense of urgency. We need to believe no one can ride us. Our opportunity on bottom has to be seen as an opportunity to score points. We need to believe in our ability to score from bottom. We need to be willing to put forth the effort to score. The more I move, the more I am wearing down my opponent and the movement also helps create opportunities for me to score points.

We need to have a plan even before the whistle is blown. Our body must be set in a manner that gives us the greatest advantage. On the whistle, we need to explode. We must force our opponent to react more to us than we do to our opponent. When we move we need our upper body moving and one leg. Our pressure needs to be back into our opponent. Thus keeping the weight off our hands and allowing us to clear our hips from our opponent. Using back pressure and movement we need to keep moving until we score. It may take us several attempts to score.

Our last dual of the year will be Thursday night at Maryland. Since Maryland is so close to GMU, I hope we will have a good turnout of people to support the team. After the dual, the fun part of the season begins. We will begin preparing for the CAA and NCAA tournaments.

Bloomsburg

Not sure what to say about our dual with Bloomsburg. We lost 39-0. For the most part, we did not put up the fight necessary to compete with a good college team. I was disappointed in our effort. It is unacceptable to have guys not give their best effort. They owe it to themselves, their team mates and to the program. Simply put, I expect excellence from the team in everything they do. It does not mean we will always win. It doesn’t mean we will ever win. What it does mean is I expect them to work hard to improve. It means I expect them to give me their best effort.

We have spoken to the team on numerous occasions on what is expected, how they should carry themselves, we have implored them to make changes. We have worked on technique, conditioning, strength, and the mental part of the game. It is incumbent upon them to improve, make changes, and grow. I don’t want my words to fall on deaf ears.

I know change is difficult. We all struggle to make the necessary changes. We don’t have much time left in the season. We better change soon.

I was disappointed that we did not send the seniors off on a better note. We were able to honor 4 of them and their parents on Sunday. Our Athletics Director presented the parents with flowers and gave the seniors a gift. There is nothing easy about college wrestling. These seniors will leave George Mason with their degree and a Division 1 wrestling experience. Their time at George Mason will serve them well in life.

Without reservation, I could recommend our 4 seniors to future employers. Jaaziah Bethea will get his degree this spring in Communications. He would like to be a sports broadcaster. Ty Knepp will get his degree in Health and Physical Education. He wants to be a teacher and a coach. Rich Lavorato will get his degree in Sports Management. He plans on working on a Master’s Degree. Drew Squires will get his degree this spring in Biology. He also plans on attending graduate school.

We will have another public test on Thursday at Old Dominion. I hope we attack this test with more zeal. I hope we are better prepared.

VMI, Bucknell and F & M

We had an interesting week. We competed 3 times this week, all on the road. The three schools we went to were places I had never been. I enjoyed seeing the different campuses and their facilities. We did not have many training days this week due to the competitions, making weight and travel. Fortunately we are home this week and only compete one time. Thus, we should be able to get in some good training days.

We wrestled at VMI on Wednesday. When we arrived, we saw students dressed in their uniforms. We saw older students admonishing freshman while the freshman performed calisthenics. One of the guy’s initial responses was, “I am glad I chose to attend Mason.” I thoroughly enjoyed VMI.

We competed in a small gym they call the thunder dome. The students from VMI came out in force and were very vocal. It was a great atmosphere. I think some of the guys struggled in the environment, while others enjoyed it. I can’t wait to go back to VMI. The VMI students made the competition electric.

We feel behind 9-0, but were able to come back for the team win. We did not wrestle great at some weight classes, but I was pleased to see some of the guys gut out some wins. Thuc put together a great video from our trip to VMI. You can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvq7T4rEJ_I

On Saturday morning, we wrestled at Bucknell. It was tough to watch the team compete. We did not wrestle with emotion. We did not have a sense of urgency. It almost looked like some of the guys were going through the motions. It was like an uninspired practice. We lost the dual 21-12. Fortunately, Sahid Kargbo, Greg Flournoy and Jaaziah Bethea finished the dual for us with individual wins.

I knew going into the dual we needed to get more emotion. I spoke to the guys before the dual about getting themselves ready to go. I knew coming off the win on Wednesday, in front of a vocal crowd, it would be hard to get back up for the dual in front of a smaller more reserved crowd at Bucknell. I think my fears were well founded. It is hard to get emotional every time you go out to compete. Nevertheless, you have to find a way to get yourself in the right mindset to compete. You cannot win consistently at the Division 1 level without wrestling with strong resolve.

Typically, I am not a guy who likes to speak to the team in a negative manner. On the other hand, after the dual I felt some things needed to be discussed. I believe elite athletes know when a coach is telling them the truth and when a coach is not. I could not tell them they performed in an acceptable manner in the dual with Bucknell. I was embarrassed by the lack of effort and discouraged attitudes some of the guys had displayed during their matches. Thankfully, the athletes were embarrassed as well.

I was pleased to see the guys wrestle with more resolve on Saturday night at Franklin and Marshall. Again, we did not have a great performance, but we were able to win some close matches. Guys were able to score when they needed to score. Guys were able to defend when they needed to defend. We won the dual meet 8 matches to 2.

We added 4 pins to our pin total this week. We got at fall in every dual. It was great seeing the guys work for bonus points. Ryan Hembury, Greg Flournoy and Jake Kettler were able to score falls this week. Kettler got 2.

Our last home dual will be on Sunday at 2pm in the RAC. We will wrestle one of the better teams in the country. Bloomsburg is ranked as high as 14th in the national polls. We will honor our seniors at the dual. Please come support the team and congratulate the seniors at their last home dual.