Mason All-Americans

We did not compete this week. My hope is by not having the guys compete this week, they were able to prepare better for final exams. Let’s hope they finish well. Since we were not competing, we were able to get in some good training sessions. Often time, with impending competitions, there really is not much time to train. Wrestlers are worried about making weight, instead of getting better. Coaches are worried guys don’t get hurt, instead of worrying about getting better. Thankfully, we got better this week.

On Saturday, we had some wrestle-offs. I am not a big fan of wrestle-offs. My hope is to have a clear starter determined through competition. Nevertheless, sometimes it is best to have a wrestle-off. Put it in the hands of the wrestlers. We now have a set line-up for our home dual with American University on December 19. We will also use the Lock Haven tournament on December 29 to further determine our starters for the season.

When we hosted the NWCA All-Star Classic, I wrote several articles for the meet program. Sadly, some of them did not make the cut and they were excluded from the program. I did not take it personal, because I know I am not a journalist and there were other issues as to the content of the program. I did like an article I had written about George Mason University’s wrestling All-Americans. The article was good because of the quotes given to me by the former All-Americans, not because of my writing skills. I have copied and pasted the article below with the hope the guys on the team will learn from the wisdom of the former All-Americans and because I think it is an interesting read.

George Mason University All-Americans

Scott Kirsch became George Mason University’s first All-American. He recalls, “I remember walking up to Cole Field House before the All American round feeling great, in the zone. Then Coach Moyer was nice enough to tell me this is the round he lost in 2 years in a row. Well that’s when the nerves hit.” Scott Kirsch beat the #5 seeded wrestler Mike Lingenfelter of Loch Haven University to become Mason’s first All-American. Scott Kirsch was 5-2 at the NCAA tournament and finished in 7th place. Another memory Scott Kirsch shared was, “One other thing was on my recruiting visit and Coach asked what my goal was. I told him I wanted to be an All American. I am not so sure he believed me. In the NCAA’s I remember each round there were less people on the mat and more of my team mates in the stands. This is when I thought of all the extra time I put in to train and all the times I was wondering why I was doing this. When I won my all American match it took so much pressure off of me. It really was my goal and to put the time in and to have it pay-off is something I will never forget.”

Johnny Curtis is Mason’s only 2x All-American. He garnered the honors in 1992 and 1993. In 1992, Johnny won his opening two matches to qualify for the quarter-finals. He lost to Randy Couture of Oklahoma State University in the quarter-finals. In his next bout he cruised to an 11-5 decision over Dave Malecek of the University of Northern Iowa to become an All-American. In 1993, Johnny Curtis lost his opening bout in a 7-7 tie break criteria. He then went on to win three straight bouts including an upset win over #9 seeded Emilio Collins of Michigan State University to become a 2x All-American. He finished 5-2 and placed 7th in the National Tournament. Curtis, always humble, thought he did pretty well at GMU. But said, “I really got better on the U.S. National Team.” From 1996 to 2000 he competed in Freestyle wrestling and was ranked as high as #3.

In 1995, Matt Finacchio became Mason’s third All-American. He opened the tournament with a fall and an upset win over #7 seeded Glen Nieradka of Oregon State University. He lost to Penn State University’s Sanshiro Abe in the quarter-final round. He won his next bout over Wayne Jackson of North Carolina State University to become an All-American. In talking about the match, Finacchio stated, “the All-American round is like no other round in college wrestling. Win and you get to wear the title of All-American for the rest of your life or lose and go home. All the three a day work outs, controlling my weight and pushing my body further than I ever thought possible was for this moment. With my Brother Dan and Coach Mike Moyer in my corner, I was bursting with both family and team pride. I was wrestling for more than just me; I was representing my family and George Mason University. Aside from the birth of my children, nothing was more exhilarating than jumping into Coach Moyer’s and my brother’s arms after a hard fought victory.” Matt Finacchio also stated, “I remember the competition. In wrestling there is no one to blame, but a lot of people to thank. There is no chance of becoming an All-American without being pushed in the wrestling room by people like Willie Stravino, Kurt McHenry and Bryan Hazard.”

Who will be Mason’s next All-American? Only time will tell. The Mason tradition continues.