One Week until the 48th Annual All-Star Classic

One week to go.

Well it is only a dual meet, how much work could there be to getting it done? I think that is a question I asked and others asked about the potential of hosting the NWCA All-Star Classic. As it turns out it is a bit more complicated than it may appear on the surface.

There are several groups of people and organizations working hard to pull off a great event (the National Wrestling Coaches Association, the Greater Washington Wrestlers Business Network, the Patriot Center staff, George Mason University Athletic staff, Patriot Elite Wrestling Club and a host of volunteers that include former coaches, alumni, parents, boosters, wrestling fans, and wrestlers from George Mason University and American University). Heck, even with putting the list together, I am sure I missed some of the people working on the event. It is quite an amazing endeavor to watch so many people band together for the 48th Annual NWCA All-Star Classic. We are hopeful we can succeed in our goal of putting on a great event.

The All-Star Classic has a great history. I have had the privilege of watching the event on several occasions. The athletes make the event special. I am honored so many great wrestlers have agreed to compete this year. We had 7 NCAA Champions and 9 of the 10 top ranked wrestlers agree to compete in the event. Of course I wanted all of the top wrestlers in the event, but the assembled group is tough to beat.

We did recently lose one of the committed wrestlers – Ed Ruth. I love watching him wrestle. He scores points and can pin. I was bummed when Cael Sanderson told me he would not be able to compete after all. I have been asked by several people why Ed Ruth had to pull out of the event. My answer is I do not know. I did not ask. I trust Coach Sanderson. I know Ed Ruth and Coach Sanderson did not take the commitment lightly to compete. If he cannot compete, it is for a legitimate reason.

I was happy we were able to quickly find a replacement for Ed Ruth to wrestle Jimmy Sheptock. Jake Swartz from Boise State University has accepted an invitation to compete. The Boise State University wrestling room is the first college wrestling room I ever saw. Probably before I could walk, my Dad took me into the Boise State wrestling room. At the time my Dad was training with Mike Young the longtime head coach at Boise State. The current head coach at Boise State was one of my college coaches at the University of Minnesota.

It is great to have Boise State University and Oregon State University in the All-Star Classic. We have lost far too many wrestling programs out west. We need the remaining programs to stay strong. We need to support them. I am confident the wrestling community out west is working hard to build the programs they have and trying to revive programs we have lost. I follow one such group via their website and via email (www.saveoregonwrestling.org).

It is going to be a busy week for all involved with the NWCA All-Star Classic. The George Mason staff and wrestlers will be putting in lots of hours. It is a great problem to have the focus of the college wrestling world on our program this week.

When I was interviewing for the job at George Mason, Jay Marsh gave me a campus tour. He showed me the Patriot Center. I remember thinking, if I get this job; we will one day fill this arena with people to watch a wrestling match. My hope is that dream will become a reality on November 2, 2013. We will need to sell lots of tickets this week to make it happen, but I am confident we will give it our best effort.

Some of the events we have planned for the All-Star Weekend:

Friday, November 1, at 730pm there will be a middle school All-Star dual held at the Field House (where our offices and wrestling room are housed).

Saturday

Noon – 5pm there will be a wrestling clinic held in the Field House (we anticipate over 300 youth wrestlers to participate in the clinic)

5pm-630pm there will be a VIP social at the Patriot Center. Michael Novogratz will be the guest speaker at the social.

645pm-715pm we will have 4 feature matches at the Patriot Center. We will have two Freestyle matches to celebrate wrestling’s inclusion in the next 3 Olympic Games. We will also use this platform to help with the fight to return wrestling to being one of the core sports for future Olympic Games. After the two Olympic style bouts we will have a bout between an American University wrestler and a NCAA Division III opponent. Lastly, George Mason University will be represented by Sahid Kargbo in a match against an opponent representing the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.

The main event will start with great fanfare around 715pm. The Mason pep band and the Marine Corp color guard will set the tone for 10 exciting bouts. I am excited to watch college wrestling at its finest in the Patriot Center.

After the All-Star Classic is in the books, we will host a social for Mason Alums at the Mason Inn. My hope is all of them will be able to look at the event with pride. Because of the sacrifices they made for the program, we are able to have the 48th annual NWCA All-Star Classic on the George Mason University Campus.

Let the 2013-14 College Wrestling Season begin.

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Pre-Season

We have completed a 5 week pre-season training cycle. October 10 is the first day we can hold official team wrestling practice. The freshman have been running and lifting 4 days a week starting at 6am. The upperclassmen have been able to do their strength and conditioning a little later. They don’t start until 630am. We have staggered the 2 groups so the freshmen can get some more individual attention and to make things less congested in the weight room. Along with the strength and conditioning training, the guys have had weekly individual skill instruction and several team meetings. My hope is we have built a strong foundation for them to progress through the season. The guys have also been spending time honing their skills on their own. They have worked on technique, spared and wrestled live for several hours on their own during the preseason. There is nothing easy about this sport. Intense training is required, often on your own.

We have a big roster this year which will hopefully lead to greater competition in the room. Having a larger roster does have some draw backs like less space, more individuals to worry about, and more problems. As my friend Mark Schwab told me years ago, “you have people, you have problems.” Nevertheless, for the most part, it has been good to have the extra bodies. One fear that has manifested itself early on this fall is guys settling to be a back-up or a red-shirt. I want the guys to aspire to be the guy we need to count on to win the big match. Some of the guys are thinking about red-shirting or do not see how they can be the starter. I think this mind set has led a few of them to be complacent. I challenge them to fight complacency. I challenge them to chase their goals with urgency.

The guys will show off the hard work they have put in this fall at a practice we will open to the public on Saturday, October 12 at Noon in the Field House (1501 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030). If you want to attend, the event is free.

Our second annual Paul Maltagliati Golf Tournament was bigger than the first. No doubt, that is a good thing. We will be able to send our guys to important out of season events as a result of the generous people who put on the event and supported the event. The club program Paul started is continuing to grow. I am thankful.

By now, I hope everyone is aware, we are having the NWCA All-Star Classic at the Patriot Center on November 2. This is a big event for our program. My hope is it will have a long term positive impact on George Mason Wrestling. If we do it right, we can grow this program in many ways. We can engage alumni, get the word out to recruits, excite boosters, attract new fans, prove our worth to the athletic department, and show we are a valuable member of George Mason University…

Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com. There is a discount for groups of 20 or more. Ticket prices vary from $150 (VIP ticket and Social) to $15 per seat.
http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/15004B1CAE85423C

There are lots of events planned for the weekend. On Friday, November 1 there will be a middle school All-Star Meet featuring kids from around the country at the Field House. On Saturday, November 2 Takedown Radio will broadcast their show from the Field House. There will be an all-day wrestling clinic at the Field House, the pre-match social will feature many celebrity guests, we will have some exhibition matches before the All-Star Classic (including USA v. World in one Freestyle and one Greco-Roman match), and finally the main event. After the All-Star Classic, we are hopeful Alums and George Mason Boosters will gather for a post meet social.

The Mason Inn will serve as the host Hotel. We have also secured group rates at several local hotels.
The Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel
4352 Mason Pond Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
$119 per night (includes breakfast)
Book Your Reservation Here:
https://reservations.ihotelier.com/crs/g_reservation.cfm?groupID=999597&hotelID=76642

For other group hotel rates, eateries and sightseeing in Fairfax County go to: http://www.fxva.com/2013nwca-allstarclassic/

The matches have been set and the NWCA gets dibs on announcing them. Thus, keep watching for matches as they are announced. Most of the top ranked guys have chosen to compete in this prestigious event. The Classic has a great tradition and many want to be involved. The top guys who will not be competing will be missed, but it just did not work out for them to attend this year. Some couldn’t due to prior commitments, injuries, and other valid reasons. 7 of the 9 returning NCAA Champions have committed to compete. I applaud them and look forward to watching them compete.

I will leak one thing in this blog. Sahid Kargbo will be wrestling an exhibition match. I am excited to have Sahid represent George Mason University at the Classic.