GCU, Northwestern and American

We had 3 competitions this week.

On Thursday, we won a dual against Grand Canyon University. Grand Canyon only competed against us at 6 weight classes. They let us know ahead of time, which I appreciated. We were able to make some adjustments as a result. All 5 seniors were able to represent the team at the dual. We were also able to give a few guys the night off from making weight.

At 141, Senior Zach Isenhour received a forfeit. Zach will be graduating this spring with a double major degree in Government & International Politics and Conflict Analysis & Resolution.

At 149, Senior Ryan Hunsberger won his match. Ryan will graduate this spring in Health Promotion. He plans to go to graduate school.

At 184, Senior Ryan Hembury won his match in overtime. Ryan will graduate this spring with a degree in Health and Physical Education. He plans on teaching.

At 197, Senior Derek Dwyer received a forfeit. Derek will graduate this spring with a degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. He plans on going to graduate school.

At Heavyweight, Senior Jake Kettler lost his match. Jake will graduate this spring in Organizational Administration. Jake plans on training Greco-Roman through 2016 and eventually would like to coach.

The other 3 contested matches were won by Greg Flournoy, Patrick Davis and Ryan Forrest. Despite only having 6 matches, it was a good event. We had a large crowd and I think they enjoyed the event. Our t-shirt toss went over much better than the last time we tried it.

We had 2 duals on Saturday. Unfortunately, due to weather, our dual with Northwestern was moved from Robinson High School. We ended up having the dual at the RAC and at a different time. I was certainly bummed to lose the opportunity to have the dual at Robinson. I was excited about the exposure we would have gotten by having the dual in the same venue as the state tournament. I hope to make it happen in the future.

Northwestern forfeited 2 weight classes to us. We lost all of the matches contested. I was frustrated we did not win any matches but did feel the guys gave good effort. We lost the small battles which ultimately cost us wins.

After the dual, we went to eat and then headed to American University for our last dual of the season. Due to the snow, we traveled by bus instead of vans. I remember thinking as we trudged through the slow moving traffic that I was thankful I could relax and let someone else drive.

We lost our dual to American. There was lots of “woulda, coulda, shoulda,” thoughts in my mind as we journeyed back to campus. We won 4 individual matches and lost the other 6. If we would have found a way to win any of the matches we lost, we would have won the dual and finished the season with a .500 team record. We certainly had opportunities, but ultimately feel short.

When we arrived back at campus, we talked about the season and the progress we have made. I talked to the guys about using the next two weeks to get better physically and mentally. We have lost many close matches this year. If we do it right, we can turn some of those matches around. We have potential at all 10 weight classes to win matches at the EWL Tournament. My hope is we will prepare well and give ourselves the opportunity to qualify multiple guys for the NCAA Tournament.

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Lehigh

We were all inspired seeing the Lehigh wrestling facility. It one of, if not the best, I have ever seen. College wrestling is alive and well in Bethlehem PA.

I have dreamed of watching a dual in Grace Hall. I can now check it off my bucket list. I am happy 2015 George Mason Wrestling team can now talk about the time they wrestled at The Snake Pit.

To be part of the National Duals is a great honor for George Mason University. We came up short of advancing, but for the most part we gave great effort. I think wrestling can grow by having the National Duals competition.

I was disappointed we lost the first match contested. I believe Blake Roulo allowed negative thoughts to negate his opportunity to win. He was called for stalling due to his poor positioning and posture on the mat. He did not need to back up or show fatigue. He can do so much more than he’s allowing himself to do. Blake has a great understanding of the sport. He will figure things out.

At 157, Greg Flournoy wrestled a good match. He was good in all 4 positions and stayed focused for 7 minutes. He prepared well for his opponent. Greg was ready and believed he could win. Preparation and belief are powerful allies.

Patrick Davis is finally starting to show his ability. He can score points. He can attack both sides of his opponent’s body. My hope is he will continue to improve and wrestle with urgency.

Ryan Forrest lost his bout but has continued to impress me with the progress he has made this season. He is figuring out college wrestling. It is fun to watch his growth.

Ryan Hembury wasn’t ready to compete tonight, so once again Daniel Mika stepped in to fill the 184 weight class. Daniel weighed in at 174. For a true freshman to wrestle up a weight class against a highly ranked opponent is admirable. I appreciate Daniel Mika’s desire to compete and wrestle for his teammates.

Derek Dwyer also moved up a weight class to compete for his team. I enjoy watching Derek compete because his effort and attitude are excellent. He is a great example of why college athletics are a valuable part of the educational process.

Jake Kettler beat an opponent who is ranked ahead of him. Getting signature wins are important for qualifying for the NCAA tournament under our current system. I was pleased he found a way to win. He did the right things in overtime to earn the win.

I was pleased to have Ibrahim Bunduka back in the line-up. He’s a crucial person on this team. IB returned to competition much quicker than his diagnosis. It is a testament to his work ethic.

I was also pleased Robert Dooley made the cut down to certify at 125 today. He sacrificed for his team. Acts like Robert’s are how you build a team.

Vince had a bad match tonight. His initial defense was good, but he did not continue to destroy his opponent’s position. Once you stop your opponents attack you need to keep improving your position. He needed to keep getting his hips down and away and keep his opponents head down and away. He also struggled on bottom.

Sahid was close to upsetting his opponent. He scored the only takedown of the match and was very close to scoring another takedown in overtime. I should have challenged the no takedown calls, but didn’t. I felt Sahid was in a good position to win and didn’t want to give his opponent time to regroup. I am frustrated he lost the overtime bout. I spent the entire bus ride home stewing about it. I guess it kept me busy as we drove through another snow storm.

I am super excited for our last week of the regular season. On Thursday night at 7pm at the RAC we get the opportunity to wrestle Grand Canyon University. We also get the chance to honor our senior class. I hope to send them off with a large contingent of fans cheering for them.

On Saturday morning at 9am we are going to wrestle Northwestern University at Robinson High School. Our dual will take place, as a separate event, before day 2 of the VHSL 5A and 6A State Wrestling Tournament. I believe this is a unique opportunity to promote college wrestling. I am thankful to Robinson High School, the VHSL, the NCAA, Northwestern University, and George Mason University for making this event possible.

We finish our regular season Saturday night at American University at 6pm. As you can see we have an exciting week ahead. We are blessed to have these opportunities. Please join us and support these events.

Binghamton and Bloomsburg

We competed two times this weekend. We were fortunate to have two team wins. I have enjoyed watching the team develop this season. They are figuring out how to be successful in D1 wrestling. Guys wrestled a great pace and showed toughness this weekend.

We are still forfeiting 125. Ibrahim Bunduka should be back soon. Robert Dooley will also be available this weekend as he now qualifies for 125 as part of his weight loss decent plan. It will help our team having a guy available for that weight class.

As we get IB back, Matt Meadows will need to miss some time. He has been competing with an injury that has limited his wrestling. It is time to address the issue so he can compete closer to full strength. Matt has sacrificed for his team, now his teammates will need to sacrifice for him. Hopefully Matt will be back in the line-up soon. The plan is to have Derek Dwyer step in for Matt during his absence.

Vince Rodriguez, Sahid Kargbo, Greg Flournoy, Patrick Davis, and Ryan Forrest all went 2-0 this weekend. As a group, I enjoyed watching them compete. They were aggressive and dominant. Blake Roulo scored a major decision for the team on Friday night. Jake Kettler and Ryan Hembury both finished 1-1 for the weekend. Both posted victories against their Bloomsburg opponents.

I am happy to report we added 2 pins to the pin club this weekend. Sahid Kargbo and Jake Kettler recorded falls against Bloomsburg. A big thank you to our pin club members for supporting the program: Kevin McGuigan, Tim Carlton, Connie Meadows, Joseph Calvano, Bob Flournoy, Joe Pruitt, Steve Kettler, Andy Mika, Tom Carr, David Marble, Shohei Takagi, Mark Weader, Kyle Walmsey, Bill Cameron, Scott Graff, Toni Maltagliati, Stephanie Scott, Diane Moore, Blaine Underwood, Ron Hembury, Squires Family, Bryan Hazard, Logan Ritchie, Rob Koll, Cheryl and Andy Thomas, Nicole Peters, Seth Robertson, Kevin Heilbronner, Louis Mendez, James Baillie, Ray Wotring, and George Reese. You are making a difference.

We will be on the road this weekend at Lehigh. We are participating in the National Duals this year. If we win at Lehigh we will qualify for the quarter final round Saturday, February 21 in Iowa City, IA. Some might be perplexed by the timing since we have duals scheduled on Saturday, February 21 against Northwestern and American. Before finalizing the schedule, Northwestern and American knew of the potential conflict. American has the same potential conflict. It would be a good problem to have.

We will be the first dual of the 16 team tournament. I am excited to have our team lead off the new formatted National Dual tournament. I believe the format is a good idea. The 16 teams participating in the tournament this year will hopefully show a good product that can be improved upon. We also hope to add exposure for college wrestling and make money for college wrestling programs. Let’s hope things go well.

Edinboro

The Patriot Club hosted a reception before our match against Edinboro. I was pleased with the turn out. It was more than we have had in the past. I was excited some of the guys on the 1995 CAA undefeated championship team were able to attend. We had alums attend from the 1970’s all the way through to 2014. Before the match I talked to the team about the alums that were there to watch them compete. We need to honor their legacy and be thankful they paved the way for our current team.

Our task was formidable due the quality team we had to face Saturday night. Edinboro is ranked 1st in the conference and ranked highly in the national polls. Once again we were forced to forfeit 125. We were without 3 starters in our line-up. We won 4 of the 9 matches contested. Vince Rodriguez and Greg Flournoy did a great job in scoring major decisions for our team. Both secured takedowns late in the match. I loved the extra effort they showed for their team. Patrick Davis and Jake Kettler were also able to win their respective bouts. I was pleased with their performance. Matt Meadows wrestled a closer match against his opponent from Edinboro than their previous meeting. Blake Roulo lost but showed progress. Sahid Kargbo was disappointed in his performance against the top ranked wrestler in the country. I believe he could have wrestled a closer match as well. Freshman Daniel Mika and Senior Derek Dwyer did not know they were going to wrestle until shortly before the dual. Both lost, but I appreciated their availability on short notice. Derek Dwyer lost 5lbs in about an hour before weigh ins and then competed with broken ribs. When I asked him to compete, he said yes without hesitation. I had forgotten about his ribs and he said nothing to me before the match. I was amazed by his effort and attitude.

During the half-time of our bout we had a paper airplane toss competition. We had great participation in the half-time event by the fans. The winner went home with a Mason Wrestling shirt. I was pleased to hear the half-time event went well and there were no injuries due to poorly designed airplanes.

This week we wrestle Binghamton University at home on Friday at 7pm. I know crowd support helps our guys compete, so we would love to see as many fans as we can get in the RAC. On Sunday, we will be on the road at Bloomsburg University for our final conference dual of the year.