University Nationals

We had 20 guys attend University Nationals. 11 wrestled in Greco-Roman, 19 wrestled in Freestyle. We had one of the largest contingents in the tournaments. I was pleased we had such a significant presence. It bodes well for our future. Guys, who train and compete in the off season, tend to show greater improvement. Our guys were able to be the guinea pigs for the new rules implemented by FILA and USA Wrestling. It was a unique experience as the wrestlers, coaches and officials were learning and interpreting rules on the fly. For the most part, the rules seemed to be a huge step in the right direction for wrestling.

If a team score was kept, we would have been in the running to win in Greco-Roman. We had 6 All-Americans. All of the placers won matches. Zach Isenhour finished 7th, Corey Smith finished 6th, Shohei Takagi and Matt Meadows finished 5th, Jake Kettler finished 4th, and Sahid Kargbo led the way with a 3rd place finish.

We did not have as good of results as I had hoped for in Freestyle. The weight classes were large and had lots of tough competitors. We did not have a place winner. Ryan Hunsberger made it the closest to placing. He wrestled well. I liked the pace he set in his matches and his desire to score points.

We drove vans to Akron, so we had a good time to bond. We also stayed in a hotel that did not have many other guests, so we had our run of the place. The highlight for most was going to the Meadows home every night for a great meal. They treated us great. We have never eaten so well on the road. At the end of each evening, Mrs. Meadows sent us home with a lunch sack with snacks to help tide us over. We were blessed.

Most of the guys have now gone home or are taking a few days off. After a long school year and some added training and competition, they are ready for a break. We will host a short training camp this weekend for the Virginia State schoolboy, cadet, and junior teams. Some of the guys will return to help with the mini-camp.

We will take part in our alumni golf outing on June 10. Hopefully, we will have a large turnout of wrestling alums on the golf course. If we have the most, we will get part of the proceeds from the event. We won last year, so I am hopeful we will do it again. We are also participating in an alumni challenge in regard to the percentage of alums who donate to the program by the end of June. If we win this, Dan Wotring will donate more money to us. He made this challenge a few years ago and we lost to Men’s Volleyball. We better not let this happen again.

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EWL and Upcoming Events

First of all, I want to say thank you to all of you who supported us throughout this school year. The guys are currently finishing up final exams. Remember those good old days. I, for one, do not miss them. My hope is the guys finish well.

Some of the highlights for me from the past season were being able to watch Jake Kettler wrestle at the NCAA Championships, watch the guys compete in Madison Square Garden, competing in front of our largest home crowd against Navy, having some extra fun on a few of our road trips, celebrating our season together at our end of the year banquet, watching 5 seniors leave Mason with a degree; and having some great promotional items and events including the Mason Pinners Club, videos, pocket schedule cards and a team poster. Thanks, in part to you, we are making progress.

We are already hard at work for next season. We have joined a new conference. We will now compete in the Eastern Wrestling League. The league will consist of the following teams next season: Bloomsburg; Clarion; Cleveland State; Edinboro; Loch Haven; Rider; and us.

We have 23 guys signed up to compete next weekend at the University Nationals/University World Team Trials in Akron, Ohio. Guys will be competing in Freestyle and Greco-Roman hoping to make the USA University World Team that will compete in Russia in July at the World University Games.

The schedule is starting to take form. As of now, it looks like we will have 7 home competitions. Our road trips are highlighted by attending the NE Duals, Grapple at the Garden and Virginia Duals. We will be tested and wrestle against some great competition.

We will kick off the college season by hosting the NWCA All-Star Meet at the Patriot Center on November 2. We will be the focal point for college wrestling on that day. Thus, it will be a great day for George Mason University Wrestling. Our goal is to Pack the Patriot Center. This event will be a program changer for us. We are currently looking for key stakeholders to help us run the best All-Star Meet in the storied history of the event. We will hold a meeting for those interested in volunteering on Tuesday, May 28th at 7pm at the Field House. If you are interested in helping, please try and attend the meeting. If you cannot attend, but would like to help, please let me know.

We are also currently working on 2 fundraising events. If you can participate, we would greatly appreciate it. The annual alumni golf outing will be held on June 10. The largest alumni group will receive 10% of the proceeds. We won last year and would like to win again this year.

The Patriot Club is also in the middle of a fundraising challenge. The highest percentage of alumni donors from a team will receive an extra donation from Dan and Patty Wotring. It is important that we win this challenge. 3 reasons why: Dan is a wrestler and he would prefer the money go to his team; we need to show the school the importance of the wrestling program; we need the money to support our basic needs for building the wrestling program. Please consider making a donation.

Banquet

We held our wrestling banquet on Sunday. It was definitely a step up from the previous year. Thanks to the Squires family, the team and staff meals were covered. Every member of the team received a plague. My hope is this memento will be something they can hang up with pride. There is nothing easy about being a division one athlete. These guys have done something special.

We also presented some individual awards. Logan Ritchie and Zach Isenhour received awards for their performance in the class room. I am proud of the success they are having academically. This success will serve them well long after their wrestling careers have ended.

We gave out a new award this year. We gave out the most dedicated wrestler award. We named the award after Paul Maltagliati. Paul was our first NCAA Division 1 qualifier. He stayed connected and involved with the program until his death last summer. Paul is certainly missed, but his presence is still felt. Derek Dwyer and Corey Smith received the award. Both earned the award through their effort and attitude.

Lastly, we honored our outstanding wrestlers. Sahid Kargbo won our freshman most outstanding wrestler award. Jake Kettler won our most outstanding wrestler award. Both wrestlers had winning records this year and stood out amongst their peers on the practice and competition mats. We are lucky to have both of them in the room for a few more years. Their futures are bright.

Our 4 seniors all spoke to the attendees. Jaaziah Bethea, Ty Knepp, Rich Lavorato, and Drew Squires are all on track to graduate this spring. Their leadership will be missed. I wish them all great success and hope to see and hear from them often.

Our camp dates have finally been approved so we are starting to advertise them. We will be doing commuter only camps this year, but hope to have residence camps again next year. We are doing 4 different types of camps. We will start out with a 2 day Greco-Roman Camp on June 16-17. We will do a 2 day Freestyle Camp on June 18-19. Both of these camps should help prepare competitors for the kids, cadet, and junior nationals later in the summer. We will host 2 – 5 day folk style technique camps. The dates are June 24-28 and July 22-26. Lastly, we will host a father/son camp on July 26-27. To learn more about the camp specifics, you can go to gomason.com to see a brochure and to register.

Finally, I want everyone to know we have chosen and been accepted into a new conference. It is good to have a home. I am excited. An official announcement will be made on Monday. In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you want the inside scoop.