I knew stringing together lots of competitions at the end of the year could prove to be difficult. When the schedule is made all you have is speculation. My hope was we could stay healthy and engaged. It has proved difficult and our focus and health has been challenged. We went 0-3 on the weekend as a team. I had planned on us doing better. Nevertheless, there is no time to pout or stew. We compete two more times on Thursday and finish our regular season on Sunday at home. On the plus side, we are getting better as a whole and we plan on having most of our eligible wrestlers healthy and ready for the end of the year.
In our first dual of the weekend we lost to Franklin and Marshall College. Although we split matches, F&M did a better job of scoring bonus points. They won by fall at 125 and 149 which gave them more than enough bonus points to win the dual. As we have learned before, every match is important. Each wrestler must try to win, but also try to win by the largest margin possible and if you should be on the losing end of a match you must do your utmost to close the gap as much as possible in the bout. I did not handle the loss well and had to say a few apologies later as a result. It was not a good feeling falling short as a leader of this program.
There were bright spots in the dual. I was pleased to see some guys step up when called upon to fill in for starters. It is important to be prepared so you are ready when called upon. Ryan Renkey is a great example of this. Early in the year we had him wrestle up a weight class, because we needed the depth at 141. He did his job well. Late in the year, we allowed him to move down to 133. He has performed well. The night before our dual it became clear Ryan would need to wrestle for Vince Rodriguez due to illness. Because of his work ethic and discipline he was ready and he picked up the win. Daniel Mika stepped in again for Ryan Forrest and won his bout scoring takedowns in the 1st and 3rd period. Daniel was able to avenge a loss from the previous season. Even though he did not wrestle well, I was pleased with Konbeh Koroma’s dedication to his team. A few weeks ago it was decided Konbeh would no longer be starting for the team. As a 5th year senior, who works very hard, it was a tough situation not only for him but for others. I told Konbeh to no longer worry about making weight and to assist the team as a training partner and mentor. I told him he would not wrestle unless it was an emergency. Well, late Friday evening, I received a phone call I was not expecting saying Blake Roulo probably wouldn’t be able to wrestle on Saturday. I called Konbeh in a panic and said, “is there any way you can make weight in the morning?” His response was he would try his best. He literally ran for most of the night. My guess is he can now say he has run more than a marathon on a treadmill. Konbeh made weight for his team so we would be able to field a full line up. I tip my hat to him for making the weight and trying to help his team. When we lost Matt Meadows to a season ending injury, Cameron Houston was thrust into the lineup. He has served as the starter for the season at 197. I love his attitude. He is a great example to his teammates because he stepped up when called upon and he continues to work diligently to improve. There was lots of pressure on him during the dual as we needed him to win for the team to win. He did not win, but he did give his team great effort.
Freshman Tejon Anthony continues to impress. He lost a one point match to a 5th year senior who is a returning All-American. Greg Flournoy wrestled a near perfect match winning 16-0. I also enjoyed seeing Matt Voss work himself out of a jam to win in overtime in the last bout of the dual. Although Patrick Davis struggled to score bonus points for his team, he was able to get an individual win for the team. There were bright spots despite the disappointing team loss.
In our second dual of the day, we lost 7 matches to 2 and received one forfeit win. We did wrestle with more fight against Bucknell than we did in our dual against them last year. Nevertheless, they were still much better than us. Greg Flournoy had a workman like win. I enjoy watching him compete. His wrestling IQ is high and he is willing to work hard to win. Ryan Renkey also won his bout 19-18. It was an exciting match. Ryan’s hard work in the wrestling room paid off again as he was able to battle back from a deficit to win.
On Sunday we traveled to Maryland. We took part in their Beauty and the Beast promotion where the wrestling and gymnastics teams competed side by side. I was happy we were able to be part of the event. Having the guys compete in a big arena with more than 2,000 fans in attendance will help them be better prepared for the NCAA Tournament. Maryland beat us 8 matches to 2. We did not get the wins I was hoping to get but our performance was positive from an effort stand point. We were able to push the pace in matches and I left feeling good about our ability to wrestle hard. Greg Flournoy lost on a last second takedown to his opponent which was frustrating. Greg did wrestle his opponent better than he did the last time they met. We also lost 2 overtime bouts. Daniel Mika and Matt Voss both were close to winning their bouts only to feel the sting of losing in the sudden victory portion of overtime. We need to find a way to win those close matches. Our two wins came in the first and last matches contested. Blake Roulo was able to pick up 6 team points by winning his bout by disqualification. Early in the bout, Blake’s opponent hurt his ankle and as a result Blake was able to control every position. In the final bout of the dual, Tejon Anthony was able to beat a fellow Maryland high school wrestler. It was a good win for Tejon. It was a good gauge for him to see how much he has improved in the past year and a half.
The good thing about our schedule is we have no time to dwell on this past weekend’s losses. We have to quickly get back up, brush ourselves off, learn as much as we can and get ready to put ourselves back in the ring in a few days. On Thursday at 530pm we host Lock Haven University at the RAC. This will be our last conference dual of the year. We are currently 2-3 in our conference duals. 10 minutes after we finish the conference dual, we will wrestle the Virginia Military Institute. This dual is part of our athletic department game of the week promotion. We hope to get lots of students in the stands when we wrestle VMI.
On Sunday, our club will host a youth wrestling tournament in the morning followed by our final dual meet of the year. For more information about the youth tournament go to: http://www.patriotpummel.com. At 2pm, we will host American University. This dual will also be our chance to honor our senior class.