We lost our home dual to #5 ranked Virginia Tech, but were able to win 3 of the 10 individual bouts. I was pleased with the size of the crowd for the dual. There were lots of Virginia Tech fans and greater local interest in the dual. The effort level I saw from several of our guys was pleasing. It can be intimidating wrestling a highly ranked opponent. Nevertheless, the guys showed courage and fight. After the dual I spoke to them about slowing down the match mentally when they compete. Find a better way to stay in the moment and keep the situation manageable in their mind. I also spoke about trying to stay in better position during the bout and winning the small situations, like winning inside tie position or staying in an iron frog position on bottom as opposed to getting into higher risk situations or positions.
Vince Rodriguez and Greg Flournoy both did a good job of securing major decisions for their team. Even though both had comfortable leads, they worked hard in the 3rd period to get their respective major decisions. I was pleased to see them do extra to help out their team. Vince has done a great job in scoring bonus points for his team this year. His last 9 wins have all been by bonus points. Greg Flournoy has also had several dominate wins. These two seniors are doing a good job leading their team.
Konbeh Koroma was the other guy who won his bout for the team. He did a good job of scoring takedowns in the 2nd and 3rd period. I was most impressed with his decisive decision to choose bottom and to work hard to earn 2 escapes. He showed improvement in this position. Even in some of our loses I was pleased with the fight I saw. Two in particular stand out to me. Blake Roulo, wrestling up two weight classes, held his nationally ranked opponent to a decision. Gary Miltenberger wrestling injured, in yet inspired, against the #2 ranked heavy weight in the country. I enjoyed seeing these guys grit their teeth and hold their ground.
We will be on the road this weekend as we compete in the prestigious Virginia Duals. The last time we entered this tournament we lost all of our duals. It was a tough weekend. This time, I hope we are more competitive. The format will be different. We start in pool competition and then based on how we do; we will be placed in a four team bracket. We will wrestle 4 dual meets in total over the 2 day tournament.
We received all of the fall grades for the team. Some guys certainly did well. By doing well in the classroom those guys are setting themselves up to get into graduate school or for their first post-graduation job. We had others earn disappointing marks. As a team we spend lots of time emphasizing the importance of getting a degree and trying to perform with excellence in the class room. Sometimes a class is just plain hard, but for most guys that under performed it was due to not doing the required things well (showing up to class on time, paying attention, doing what was required in the syllabus, and seeking out help when needed). I was very disappointed. It not only negatively affects the individual, but it hurts the team and college wrestling. Sadly, college wrestling programs have been dropped due to poor academic performance. Currently, wrestling is near the bottom of sports in the NCAA APR calculations (retention, eligibility and graduation of athletes). We need to raise our APR scores individually and collectively as a sport. It is imperative each individual does their utmost to be successful in the classroom.
Every fall I give the George Mason University Wrestling Team a paper labeled Priorities. I adapted it from a John Wooden quote. I also post it in the locker room as a reminder/warning. It reads:
“You come to George Mason University to get an education, a degree. That should always be first and foremost in your mind. Your education will serve you well throughout your life. Your physical skills will only serve you briefly.
Second on your priority list, while you are at George Mason University, should be wrestling. Being on the team should be viewed as a privilege. You are on an elite college athletic team. For some of you this is helping pay for your education. Your physical skills will be meaningful for only a short period of your life, now and perhaps after graduation.
Third, on the list of priorities, are your social activities while at George Mason University. If you let social activities take precedence over your wrestling activities, then you will soon lose your wrestling activities. If you lose your wrestling activities and you lose your academic activities, then you will have no social activities here because you will no longer be a student at George Mason University. Keep your priorities straight.”
My hope is guys figure out how to be successful academically before they lose their opportunities provided by George Mason University. I want them to get a degree to help them down the road as well as to help the wrestling program at George Mason University and help the growth of the remaining 77 NCAA D1 wrestling programs.