Lock Haven Classic and Midlands

We had 13 guys compete at the Lock Haven Classic. I had hoped a few more would compete but for various reasons, all were not available. I was disheartened when we returned from break and some guys were unable to compete. I guess that is how things go when you are dealing with a team. Some of the issues were out of our control, others were not.

I did down play making weight and put most of the responsibility on the athletes. I was pleased to see the 13 who competed handled the responsibility with no complaining. To me it appeared they handled the situation well. It is often difficult making weight right after Christmas break. I am glad the guys took ownership, handled their business, and did so like strong men.

I also was pleased with the effort the team performed on the mat. These guys work hard and I was proud they were able to display the work they have put in since the end of last season. For the most part, conditioning is something they can physically control. The team also seemed better in the mental part of the conditioning game during a bout.

We had 7 guys go 0-2 at the Lock Haven Classic. We need to have more production from them.They need to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself. I am hopeful they learned and can better find ways to win the next time they compete. I was hopeful they would get more matches, but sadly they did not get the opportunity.

The 6 guys who won matches finished with an overall 19-10 record.

Ibrahim Bunduka finished with a 2-2 record on the day. I was pleased with his effort level. His biggest area of struggle was on bottom. I am confident he will continue to work on improving this position.

Vince Rodriguez had a good day. He was 4-1, scoring bonus points in all 4 of his wins. His lone loss was in the semi-final where he let his opponent dictate the positions in the match too much. Vince can do a better job of forcing positions that better suit his abilities.

Tejon Anthony finished 2-2 on the day. He lost a close decision in the semi-finals and suffered an injury. He definitely slowed down as a result, but showed good resolve in finishing the day with one more win and a close loss in the third place bout.

Konbeh Koroma finished 2-2 as well. Both his losses were a result of struggling underneath. I hope Konbeh finds a trick or two to help him win the mat wrestling position. He will certainly put in the work, which is the key element.

Patrick Davis finished 5-1 on the day. He avenged his only loss by defeating the same wrestler in the consolation finals. He is wrestling much better in competition as of late. His riding was noticeably better and helped him secure wins. I was pleased to see what he has been working on in practice manifest itself in competition.

Matt Voss finished 4-2 on the day. He had several matches that required great effort. He works hard in practice and was able to perform well as a result. A few of the mat officials commented on how he is a fun heavyweight to officiate, because he gets after guys. Win or lose, he will wrestle a high pace and take risks.

While the majority of the team competed at Lock Haven, we had two wrestlers compete at the 53rd Ken Kraft Midland’s Championships. Bill Prochniewski went 0-2 but did get a chance to compete much closer to his home and spend a little more time with family. Greg Flournoy finished in 5th place. He had a 7-2 record over the course of the two day tournament. He lost both matches to the same guy who beat him in the EWL finals last March. Overall, Greg had some good results. More importantly, he left the tournament with greater knowledge and he is now better prepared for the NCAA tournament. I also enjoyed seeing him on the Big Ten Network wearing his Mason Green and Gold warm-ups on the awards stand.

On Sunday, January 3, 2016 at 2pm we will compete at home against Virginia Tech. This will be the highest ranked team we will have competed against since I became head coach. Virginia Tech is currently ranked #5 in the NWCA Coaches poll. Please come out and support these two Virgina College programs.

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Atlantic 10 Dual Meet Championship

On Monday night, we tried to turn our dual meet against Davidson College into a big event. For the most part, I believe it was a success. We wrestled for the mythical Atlantic 10 Dual Meet Championship. I am thankful Davidson College agreed to the event. I believe it can help both programs grow. I was thankful to have the support of so many in the athletic department including several student athletes from various teams who attended the dual. I was thankful the Dance Team attended the event and performed during half-time. The crowd was vocal and supportive of the wrestlers.Their energy helped the team perform at a higher level.

I was pleased by the teams pace and energy level. It was our best overall output of the season. Ibrahim Bunduka started the team off with a fall. He scored lots of points in the bout and did a good job of securing the pin. After Vince Rodriguez received a forfeit, Tejon Anthony did a great job of keeping the momentum going by scoring enough points to secure a tech fall. Tejon is having a great start to his wrestling career. Konbeh Koroma lost his match. I am frustrated for him as he has done lots to improve and is struggling to show it in competition. He needs to stay the course and believe in his abilities. Greg Flournoy was a great example to his teammates about putting forth effort when he competes. I have been impressed by his effort in the past, but I believe he has taken it to an even higher level. I hope his teammates are watching him closely. He is showing them something special. He is a joy to watch compete. Patrick Davis seemed to only have one thought on his mind and that was to secure a pin. He was aggressive and dominating and did secure the pin. We decided to forfeit 174 as Ryan Forrest is a little banged up right now. Sadly the two other 174lbers on our roster were not available to compete. We were also trying to get creative and juggle the line up so we wouldn’t have to forfeit, but that failed as well. As much as I dislike forfeits, and despite Ryan Forrest’s willingness to compete hurt, we decided to forfeit the weight class after we took a commanding lead in the dual. I hope we made the best decision for all concerned. Luke Ludke lost in the 3rd overtime of his bout. I was pleased to see he is learning how to compete at the 184lb weight class. He made a huge leap in weight to get in the line-up this year and he is making progress. Once again we bumped up Austin Harrison to 197 and this time he was able to secure the win. I was impressed by the effort he showed in riding his opponent for the entire second period. By doing so, he was able to place himself in an advantageous position to win his bout. Matt Voss had a workman like win to secure a 10-3 victory to close out the dual. He is a great closer for this team.

The team will now enjoy a few days at home before we start the heart of our season. Our next competition will be at the Lock Haven Invitational on December 29. Our next home event will be against Virginia Tech on January 3.

Late last week, Shohei Takagi and I had the honor of coaching Sahid Kargbo at the US Open Greco-Roman Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas. Sahid competed well. Sahid came within one match of placing finishing with a 3-2 record. Although he did not qualify for the final Olympic Trials, as of yet, many of the top people in the sport believe he deserves to be at the Final Trials and with a few more months of full-time Greco-Roman training he will succeed. There is no doubt Sahid can compete with anyone in the weight class. Given the opportunity, Sahid will be a force to be reckoned with at the Final Olympic Trials. Sahid would be a great representative for the USA at the Olympic Games.

Mason Duals 2015

We had an exciting finish to our first conference dual of the year. Matt Voss was able to secure the lead late in the match and ride out his opponent to win. His match clinched the dual victory for the team over Clarion University. I was pleased with his attitude and effort. Due to his effort, he is being honored as the EWL Freshman Wrestler of the Week. Matt Voss had the fans out of their seats cheering for the victory. The dual meet win was a 5-5 split in matches. We won 22-18 because of the bonus points scored by Vince Rodriguez, Greg Flournoy, and Ryan Forrest. Our other win came via 8-7 decision from Blake Roulo.

During the dual, both teams lost a match due to injury default. Although the risk of injury in wrestling is deemed to be high, I can’t recall too many times each team has lost a bout due to an injury default. It was strange. My hope is both wrestlers fully recover in a timely manner. No one wants to win or lose due to an injury default.

Our other 4 guys, who lost their matches, helped the team by not giving up any bonus points. We learned the hard way a few weeks ago how important getting and not giving up bonus points can be. This time we learned the positive way in saving and getting team points.

In our second dual of the day, Vince Rodriguez was the only guy to score a bonus point for the team. I was pleased to see him stay on the attack and to secure the bonus point in the third period. Vince had a very good day on the mat. We had six other guys win their matches against Grand Canyon University. All of them won by a decision – Tejon Anthony, Konbeh Koroma, Greg Flournoy, Patrick Davis, Luke Ludke, and Matt Voss. The three guys who lost did not give up any bonus points. Even though they did not win, I was pleased with the effort they displayed. We won the dual 22-9.

I was pleased to see guys find a way to win the close matches. In matches decided by 2 points or less, we had a 6-3 record this weekend. It is important to find a way to win the close matches. In doing so, it also means you found a way to win some of the tough positions during a match.

I struggled watching the pace some guys wrestled in their bouts. They have the ability to wrestle a much higher pace. They need to know it and own it when they are competing. After the match, I reiterated to the team the importance of training at a high pace, so the match situation is physically no different. When they run, they need to run as hard as they can. When they lift they need to lift as intently as they can. When they wrestle in practice, they need to wrestle at the highest pace they can. By doing these things, they will be physically prepared and, the harder to prepare for mental battle of a match, will be strengthened as well. They will know they have earned the right to win. I was pleased some of the guys pushed the pace in their bouts. They were positive examples to their teammates and showed the aggressive and fun style we preach to our team.

This week is final exams. The team will focus on finishing well.

Next Monday (December 21), we will host Davidson (7pm at the RAC). Both of our institutions are part of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Since the Atlantic 10 currently does not sponsor a wrestling championship we compete in separate conferences in wrestling. Davidson is in the Southern Conference, while we compete in the Eastern Wrestling League. Nevertheless, in order to link our wrestling programs with the other teams at our institutions and to create further excitement for our dual, we have coined our dual as the Atlantic 10 Dual Meet Championship. We will wrestle for a trophy which the winning team will keep in their possession. We will have the trophy up for grabs whenever we compete against each other. All dual meets matter. Now that this is a trophy match, I think the Davidson v. Mason dual has even greater significance. I am excited. I hope this adds to the level of excitement for others as well. If you can, please come out and support the teams as we compete for the Atlantic 10 Dual Meet Championship.

We are also currently having a contest, via twitter, for the naming of this new trophy match. If you have an idea, please get it to us. We hope to have a catchy name that will enhance the rivalry of dual meets between Davidson and Mason.

December update

I believe the wakeup call last week was answered. Guys have done some self-review. I asked everyone to ponder the following questions: What is holding you back from greatness; why do you wrestle; what is your purpose? The guys need to find the answers for themselves. When they find the answer they will have a better idea of how to get the desired results.

I reiterated to the team that I believe in them. I believe the program plan is one that will work. They need to believe in their abilities and believe in the system. If they truly believe, they will see the positive results. I asked them to wrestle with courage and to embrace the endeavor. Love the process. Love the fight.

I also emphasized how important each person is to the team. Each individual’s actions affect the team – positively and negatively. Teamwork builds courage. We can lift each other to greatness. I asked them to find a reason to do what is right for themselves and for their teammates.

Because we did not compete this weekend, we were able to complete a six day training cycle. I believe the team made gains physically and mentally. The guys were also able to spend extra time studying as they near the completion of the fall semester. They studied as a team and on their own.

Our first home competition will take place on Sunday, December 13. It will be kind of a unique day of competition. We will have four teams here to compete. At 1030am North Carolina State University will wrestle Grand Canyon University. This will be the only competition for North Carolina State University for the day. North Carolina State University knocked off Oklahoma State University on Sunday. They are off to a great start for the season, currently they are 9-0. Then at Noon, George Mason University will wrestle Clarion University. This will be our first conference dual of the year. Currently Clarion is 2-1 in Conference duals this season. At 130pm, Clarion University and Grand Canyon University will wrestle. We will finish the day by wrestling Grand Canyon at 3pm. All of the start times are dependent on when the earlier scheduled dual ends. We will have about a 10 minute break after each dual meet. It should be an exciting day for wrestling fans. I hope to see you at the RAC on the George Mason University Fairfax campus.