NCAA Tournament

Well another college wrestling season has come to an end. The NCAA tournament was exciting as evidenced by being sold out and the high ratings ESPN had broadcasting the event. Jake Kettler finished 0-2. He was disappointed by the results, as was I. On the other hand, he competed hard. I was pleased with his effort. His perspective after the tournament gave me hope that he left the tournament a better wrestler and person. I expect great things in the future for Jake Kettler.

We left our hotel Sunday morning at 3am to make our 7am flight out of Omaha. Due to the tournament being held in Des Moines, we could not get a return flight home out of Des Moines as every Sunday flight was full. It has been awhile since I have driven on snowy roads. Fortunately, my years in Minnesota helped me to drive quickly and safely so we did not miss our flight.

After about 14 hours of travel time we finally made it home. I was exhausted from the NCAA Tournament week and season. I was excited to rest. My rest was short. I started to receive texts and calls asking me about George Mason University leaving the CAA. I did not know anything about it which was not a good feeling. I found out via the news we were joining the Atlantic 10 conference. The Atlantic 10 does not sponsor wrestling.

Early Monday morning a staff meeting was held where the Athletics Director told us the news. I was pleased he pulled me aside before the meeting. He said finding us a new conference was a top priority. He also said he would make sure to quell any doubts about his support for the program by publicly stating his support. He told me he felt we would be in a better situation in the long run.

I believe he is correct. We now have a unique opportunity to choose a new home. I also believe there is potential for the Athletic Department to grow in the Atlantic 10. The growth of the athletic department can help our wrestling program.

The past few days have been quite hectic. There is lots of work to be done. We need to find a new conference, we started our spring strength program for the team, we started preparing our guys for the spring national team competitions, we are closing in on our spring recruit signing period, we are trying to plan our banquet, settle last season accounts, finish our pin club fundraiser …

For some reason, I keep hearing inside my head one of my youth coaches, Pavel Katsen. In his thick Russian accent he would often implore us to train harder during practice. He would shout, “Come on my pupil. There is so much work to be done and so little time. Come on Tiger.” I guess a good coach stays with you and continues to push you when you are long done competing on the wrestling mat. Thanks, Pavel.

I am excited to report we finished with 29 official pins this season. We had a handful more that did not count because they occurred in Open competitions. Thus, I will be contacting the generous donors in our pin club soon to collect their pledges. Good job grapplers and thanks to the pin club members.

On April 10 we will host a free event on campus. One of our 2nd year wrestlers, Matt Stull has invited his Great Uncle Jim Lehrer to speak. When Matt first got the promise from his Great Uncle, I thought it would be a good event for the wrestling team to be part of to align us with the mission of the University and to reach out to other groups on campus. I had no idea what a huge deal this really was. Jim Lehrer must have done many great things in his life because the word spread like wild fire and multiple groups wanted to be part of the event. Personally, I am excited to meet Mr. Lehrer and excited the wrestling team is part of this event. If you are in the area, we would love to have you attend. I posted the link for the event below:


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