We went 2 and 1 in duals this weekend. It is exciting to start another college wrestling season. We have higher expectations this year. It is going to be a long hard grind. I am confident our guys will be ready for the physical and mental challenges they will face over the next 5 months.
In our first dual, we won 8 of 10 matches against VMI. Some of the highlights for me were: Bunduka winning his debut match as our starter at 125; Rodriguez controlled workman like win; Kargbo showing mental toughness when he was struggling physically; shut out wins by Hunsberger and Flournoy; Forest beating a guy who had beaten him last season; Meadows getting a major; and Kettler beating a guy ranked in some polls.
We faced Anderson University in the second round. Once again we won 8 of 10 bouts. Dwyer won a dominate match 8-1. I was excited to see the 5th year senior’s hard work pay off with his first dual meet victory for the team. 5 guys scored bonus points for the team. Bunduka and Flournoy got major decisions, while we had 3 pins – Davis, Meadows, and Kettler.
In our last bout we lost 8 matches to 2 to Virginia. They exposed our weaknesses, which can be a good thing if we can make the necessary changes. In the 2 matches we won I was pleased to see the guys grit out victories in overtime. Those two showed they could attack and score after more than 7 minutes of wrestling. Going 2-0 in overtime shows they have prepared physically and mentally for the season. I liked what I saw. I also liked the fight I saw in some of the matches we lost. Nevertheless, we need to keep hammering the basics – good position, basic defense, movement on bottom, aggressiveness on top.
Mentally we need to be able overcome the ferocity of DI competition. We need to love the fight. Virginia was able to get us to back down. We cannot do so in the future. If you are out manned, you need to be able to hold good position and have the ability to weather the storm. Love the fight. We need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. This can be practiced. Guys need to wrestle a harder pace in practice. Guys need to get their body and mind fatigued. Once fatigued, they need to learn to function under duress. We work on it, but need to grow more in this area.
Belief was lacking as well. The guys need to believe in their training. They need to know the work they have put in has prepared them for what they will face. They should know, they can function when they are tired. They need to believe the other guy will back down before they will. Sometimes it is just a matter of pushing a little longer. They can do it. They need to believe.
Every situation in a match can be looked at as a positive. They need to see the positive. Instead we looked at things negatively too often. It hurt our performance. If ridden, think about how hard you are making the guy work on top. Know you are getting him tired. If give up a takedown, learn from it. See it as a problem you now know how to solve. We were too concerned with how we felt, instead of considering how the other guy was feeling. We were too worried about what they would do to keep us down on the mat instead of just thinking about scoring points. Attitude goes a long way.
We will only have a few days to train before our next competition. On Saturday, November 8 we will host our first home dual of the year. We will wrestle Navy at 1pm at the RAC. I am a fan of the Academy programs. I love the discipline, leadership, accountability and character they try to teach. We are teaching similar skills to our guys. If you can, please come out to support our programs as we compete against each other.
This season, we will not charge for home duals. We are trying to gain support, so giving you a free sample to get you hooked might just do the trick. The guys have trained hard. They are excited to compete at home.