W&L and Davidson

The 1936 NCAA Wrestling Tournament was held in Lexington, VA at Washington and Lee University. We were able to wrestle in the same gym that hosted the 1936 Championship. Oklahoma won the Team title and Wayne Martin of OU was voted the Outstanding Wrestler of the 1936 Championships. The gym was very small. Smaller than most grade school gyms. There were no bleachers. I loved being in the historic gym. I also love how much the NCAA Championships have grown. We were able to post our first shut out win since I have been the head coach at George Mason. In order to avoid forfeits, we did some creative match ups. Guys wrestled guys who weighed about the same; we just put them in matches at very different weight classes than either of them weighed. I enjoyed our stop in Lexington, VA.

The next day we wrestled in a quad dual at Davidson College. We wrestled Anderson University first. We won the dual, but did have some guys struggle in their matches. We won 7 of 10 individual matches. In our second dual, we were defeated by Ohio State University. We won 2 of 10 matches. I was encouraged by some of the effort. The two guys who won (Flournoy and Hembury) did a good job as did some of the others. Nevertheless, we need to be more competitive overall. In our Final dual we beat Davidson College. We won 6 of 10 individual matches. Davidson College will be joining the Atlantic 10 next year. I believe they will stay in the Southern Conference for wrestling, since the Atlantic 10 doesn’t sponsor wrestling. Nevertheless, I hope we can start a trophy dual with Davidson as we will now have two wrestling schools in the Atlantic 10. We should come up with a good name for the trophy and wrestle for it each season. Three suggestions – The Atlantic Championship, The Border Battle Belt, Who’s #1 in the Atlantic 10. Any suggestions?

We will compete at the 11th Annual North East Duals on Saturday. The event was started with the hope of bringing collegiate wrestling back to the Albany, NY area. Frank Popolizio has turned it into one of the premier dual meet events in the country. On Sunday, we will compete at the Grapple at the Garden. Last year, to a man, the dual will wrestled in Madison Square Garden was one of the highlights of the year. I am excited we received another invitation. We will wrestle 5 duals this weekend – 3 at the North East Duals and 2 at the Grapple at the Garden. It will be a grueling week, but one where we can make some big gains.

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Wolfpack Open

We had 19 guys compete unattached this weekend at the Wolfpack Open. I was pleased so many guys chose to go on their own to compete. They had to find their own way down to North Carolina State University. They had to pay on their own. They had to coach each other. I think it shows we are headed in a positive direction when 30 guys, over the past 2 weekends, attended opens. Good job team and team captains. It sounds as though we all owe a big thank you to Luke Ludke’s Mom as well. I think she spoiled the guys with her hospitality.

It was very emotional for me to watch Vince Rodriguez compete this weekend. He red shirted last year and had to deal with some adversity. He has a great perspective on wrestling. His mindset is going to make him tough to beat. Vince won the tournament. I am excited to watch him compete this season.

I was also pleased to see a few guys win their first college matches. We had several freshmen compete. We also had a few older guys get their first college win. I was happy for those guys.

Wrestling is a physically brutal sport. You get pushed in many areas trying to win a match. Even as physical as it is, the sport is even more a mental battle. We struggled mentally this weekend. Guys need to wrestle with greater confidence. Guys need to wrestle with greater resolve. Too often, we yielded in situations instead of pushing forward. You have to compete as hard as you can for the entire match. When you do this, good things happen. When you don’t, bad things happen.

We will compete in our first dual meets this weekend. On Saturday, some of the team will attend the Navy Classic. Others will dual at Washington and Lee. On Sunday we will compete in a quad dual against Anderson, Ohio State and Davidson. Talking to the Davidson coach this weekend at the Wolfpack Open, it sounds like they are doing a great job promoting the event. He is confident they will set an attendance record. I was happy to hear he is getting greater support from his administration for the Davidson Wrestling program.

Open Competitions

We had 10 guys choose to wrestle in Open competitions this weekend. I am proud of their commitment. The guys won lots of matches. I heard they wrestled hard, which is very important to this team. They are obligated to give their best effort for the entire match. They can control their attitude and effort. Sometimes, the win or loss is out of their hands.

Records this weekend:
Blake Roulo 4-1 (finished 2nd place at Pembroke Classic)
Luke Ludke 4-2
Ryan Hunsberger 3-2
Seth Robertson 2-2
Bill Prochniewski 1-2
Ibrahim Bunduka 1-2
Jake Kettler 1-2
Ryan Hembury 1-2
Shohei Takagi 1-2
Derek Dwyer 0-2

Belief is so important in this sport. It is a stumbling block for so many. I think we are finally getting guys to believe they can compete against the best in college wrestling. We will be tested. We will have ups and downs. Nevertheless, it is important you walk on the mat believing you are prepared to win. Through our training, competition, and life style, we are getting guys to buy in and believe. I am excited for them to see what a difference it will make when they compete.

I did not go to the Open competitions this weekend. I stayed home to celebrate my son’s 3rd birthday. Because he has a November birthday, it is hard for me to be home on his birthday. I am happy I could be home with him this weekend. As a coach, you are often away from family. There is a strong pull to be away from home. Family is important and should be placed ahead of work, but often it is not. I want the guys on the team to take care of their relationships. I need to do the same. Happy Birthday, Taft John Russell.

48th Annual NWCA All-Star Classic

Saturday night, November 2, 2013 was a program changing night for George Mason University Wrestling. We hosted a weekend of wrestling events that culminated in a great showcase for our sport and program. I am so humbled and thankful to all of the people who stepped up to make this event a success. I have tried to count the number of people who volunteered their time for us to make this happen. I haven’t been able to get an exact number, but it is safe to say it is more than 150. I am amazed by the support people gave George Mason University Wrestling.

The competitors did a great job. We had 6 overtime matches. Thus, we had lots of drama. I was pleased we could show case and celebrate Olympic Wrestling. I was pleased Sahid Kargbo pinned his opponent (pretty cool that the only pin of the evening was by a George Mason Patriot).

I have received lots of phone calls, emails and in person praise for the event. Fans loved the George Mason University Pep Band. Fans loved the George Mason Campus. Fans loved the Mason Inn. Fans loved the Patriot Center. I think George Mason University made some positive gains as a result of the event.

I was pleased with the current George Mason Wrestlers. They worked very hard to help make the event a success. The wrestlers did the jobs no one else would do from moving the biggest mat I have ever seen moved, to helping out at the clinic, to selling programs… They did it all and they did it well.

A highlight for me was attending the alumni social at the Mason Inn. It was great seeing Mason Men having fun, reconnecting, and having pride in their program. The former coaches and athletes were the key builders of the program. We are indebted to them.