Some initial thoughts after the Navy Classic…We have a good team with guys that can compete with the best college wrestling has to offer. One of my team goals is to give everyone the opportunity to compete. Yesterday we had 18 guys compete at the Navy Classic. I was pleased so many had the opportunity to wear a George Mason singlet. I was reminded of how little things make a difference in college wrestling. The margin for error is small. I was pleased to see some guys do the little things right in order to win. I was disappointed to see some guys learn the hard way. Wrestling is such a great teacher for life.
Vince Rodriguez has prepared well since his season ended last March. His mindset is great. He is excited to compete and believes he can compete. His opening bout was against the #20 ranked wrestler in the country. Vince won by scoring two takedowns while allowing only escape points from his opponent. Vince won his next two matches to make the finals. He lost in the finals 6-3 to the #14 ranked wrestler. Even in the loss, I was pleased to see Vince’s fight. He made some technical errors on his feet and did not move enough on bottom. Nevertheless, he finished the bout by scoring a reversal which showed his willingness to compete for 7 minutes. Next week, Vince will have another opportunity to wrestle a ranked wrestler when we dual Rutgers University.
Greg Flournoy is a guy who believes in his preparation and who is willing to give his best effort when he competes. When you put those two things together, you are dangerous. Greg won his first two bouts before falling to the #2 ranked wrestler in the semi-finals. I was pleased watching how he learned adapted and improved even during the heat of competition. This is a difficult skill for most. As I have said before, Greg has a high wrestling IQ. He has great ability. I am pleased his ability and belief are coming together. A wrestler’s fortitude is often on display in the wrestle back rounds. Greg showed his mettle with wins in the consolation semifinal and third place matches. He was aggressive and wrestled a hard pace to secure victories. For third place he beat the #13 ranked wrestler. It is a safe bet that Greg opened the eyes of others at the event.
Freshman Tejon Anthony place third in his weight class as well. I, for one, was impressed by his composure and ability to win the tough situations. He finished the day with five wins. He scored two bonus points for his team as well as won an overtime bout by riding his opponent and won a match due to having a point for riding his opponent for more than 1 minute. He eclipsed the one minute riding time threshold by a few seconds. Every second matters as was evidenced by this win. I am excited to see Tejon grow as a wrestler. He has a bright future.
Freshman Matt Voss finished fourth place at Heavy Weight. He finished the day with a 3-2 record. I enjoy watching Matt compete. He wrestles a great pace. In his first round bout, he got in a tough scramble in overtime. He worked hard to keep from giving up a score. Immediately after the crazy scramble, he attacked his opponent. I do not believe his opponent was ready for the attack, because most guys would have taken a few breaths to recover. Matt did not and it paid off. He also won his consolation semifinal bout by a pin which is crucial in team scored events.
Although no one else placed, I was pleased seven other guys won matches (Ibrahim Bunduka, Bill Prochniewski, Cameron O’Connor, Ryan Renkey, Konbeh Koroma, Ryan Forrest, and Gary Milltenberger). Ibrahim finished with two wins, while Ryan Forrest had three. I believe we had 4 guys win matches by pinning their opponents (Voss, O’Connor, Koroma, and Flournoy).
After the meet, I challenged the guys to do some self-review. They are in a race. If they learn more than their opponents due to the competition, than they have gained ground. All of us had to learn the hard way, because all suffered a loss. Nevertheless, in the long run, the loss can serve as a better teacher. 0-2 today is not the end of the season. It can be used to make more gains than if no loss was suffered.
My brother often talks about the two questions a wrestler needs to ask before they compete. If you can answer the questions correctly, you have already won. Have you given 100% in your preparation? Are you willing to give 100% until the final whistle blows? I believe if you can answer those two questions with a yes answer, you will be tough to beat on the scoreboard. You will have won the more important battle within. Some fell short of answering the two questions correctly on Saturday. They need to do their utmost to be able to answer those questions correctly the next time they step on the mat.
Little things in a match make a difference in a win or a loss. Riding a guy instead of letting him go, wins matches. Scoring at the end of a period makes a difference. Wrestling as hard as you can between every whistle, gives you a chance to win. Thinking positive thoughts during a match can turn the tide in your favor. Letting your body flow to do what you have trained it to do leads to positive results. Embracing the fight instead of fearing it gives you power to win. Staying in bounds as opposed to stepping out often is the better decision.
The week ahead will be interesting. I am curious to see how guys react to the results of the Navy Classic. We will train very hard on Monday and Tuesday, before giving the guys a couple of days to recover and enjoy some time of Thanksgiving. We will be back together as a team on Friday. We will then travel to New York to compete in two duals at the Grapple at the Garden. This will be an exciting event for us. We will face a highly ranked team in Rutgers. Our guys have the opportunity as a team to do good things as well as individually. Winning a key individual bout could ultimately send a wrestler back to New York in March for the NCAA tournament. We also get the opportunity to wrestle division 2 Pitt-Johnstown which will give us a chance to see opponents we probably won’t face again this year. Pitt-Johnstown is a great program with great tradition; it will be honor to compete against them in Madison Square Garden.
Please note we could really use your support in New York. Having Mason fans in the stands makes a difference. If you would like to buy tickets in the GMU section, you can contact the GMU ticket office at:
George Mason Athletic Ticket Office
4400 University Drive, MS 3A5
Fairfax, VA 22030
If you can’t make a decision until after Thanksgiving, contact me directly for leftover tickets in the GMU fan section of Madison Square Garden.