This has been a difficult fall. Having to make roster cuts, struggling to move the program forward, and the everyday stresses of being a head coach can be overwhelming. To add more stress, we recently lost our head assistant coach Tommy Owen. To be fair, I knew it was a possibility for a few months. I also know, if I am doing my job correctly, others will want the people I have helped to mentor. I am happy for Tommy and I know he will do a great job at Southern Illinois – Edwardsville. I am bummed for our program and the timing of his departure makes things difficult. Nevertheless, I am confident we will continue to move in a positive direction.

After lots of thought and advice from others, I have decided we will hire an interim coach for this season. After the NCAA tournament we will do a search for a permanent replacement for Head Assistant position. I think we will get greater interest in the position in the spring, it will also be a better time for someone to accept a new job and I do not want to disrupt other programs during the current season. I am hopeful to name our interim head assistant coach in the near future.

The team has been supportive during this transition period. I have leaned heavily on our captains to keep the team moving in a positive direction. My hope is the team will use the adversity to rally together. My captains serve a crucial role in the progress of their team. I am confident they will step up and lead.

I have also changed the role of one of our seniors – Corey Smith. He is taking on a role as a player/coach. Corey is helping to show the freshman how to succeed as a college student and wrestler. He is also going to help prepare the starters for competition. I am excited to have Corey’s help this season.

This past weekend, we hosted a coaches’ clinic and kids’ clinic. Although our numbers were low, I was pleased with the responses I heard about both clinics. I believe those that attended benefited. Cory Cooperman and my brother Dan headlined the Coaches’ clinic. They did a great job. My brother Dan headlined the kids’ clinic. For those who have not attended a clinic ran by my brother, you have missed out on a rare treat. His energy and expertise are great. He has the ability to keep the wrestlers engaged and having fun. Dan has learned some great lessons thru this sport. I am hopeful those who heard his presentation were able to grow as people and wrestlers.

On Saturday, we also hosted our wrestle-offs. The guys had to make scratch weight and wrestle one hour afterward. It was a great way to prepare for our first competition. The results of the wrestle-offs are as follows:
125 Bunduka defeated Gentry 6-3
133 Dooley defeated Calvano 6-2; Rodriguez defeated Dooley by fall in 41 seconds.
141 Kargbo defeated Isenhour 7-3
149 Ludke defeated Koroma 3-2 in overtime; Koroma defeated Hunsberger 3-2; Hunsberger defeated Ludke 2-0. (I am not sure we settled much at this weight class).
157 Flournoy defeated May 12-1
165 Davis defeated Forest 10-6
174 Mika defeated Alex Thomas 9-4
184/197 Meadows defeated Andrew Thomas 16-1
Hwt Kettler pinned Miltenberger in 2:55.

As a result of watching the wrestle-offs we were able to see some of our areas of need. Thus, it has helped our training. This Sunday will be a big test for us. My hope is the guys will be focused in their preparation (so they can correctly answer the 2 questions Dan spoke about during his presentation at the clinic this past weekend) before they step on the mat to compete.