Greg Flournoy represented George Mason University at the 2016 NCAA Championships. As he has done repeatedly in his career, he represented himself, team, program and institution well. Greg finished with a 1-2 record. In each of his matches, I was pleased with his attitude and effort. He made a couple of mistakes in each of his matches. Because the margin for error is so small at the NCAA level, he was only able to overcome the mistakes in one of his bouts.
He opened up the tournament against a familiar foe, Chad Walsh from Rider. He lost by a major decision, but the match was much closer than the score. He gave up a take down late in the first period and then gave up 6 points when holding onto his opponent’s leg late in the match trying to get a stalemate restart.
In his first wrestle back bout, Greg fell behind 6-0. He gave up a take down while aggressively going after a cradle in the first period. Later in the period he gave up a 4 point near fall. At the start of the second period, his opponent chose bottom. Greg was able to lock up a cradle and get a 4 point near fall. Knowing his opponent was good on top, Greg chose neutral in the third. The strategy paid off as Greg was able to take down his opponent and then ride him out for the 7-6 victory. I was especially pleased with his composure. Greg battled back and showed great heart to secure the win.
In his final bout, Greg was unable to stop his opponents go to move on two occasions. Greg knew it was coming (he was prepared), but was unable to counter his under hook to a single. Greg did a good job of battling back. He scored a take down in the third period to get the score to 4-5. Greg let his opponent go in an attempt to secure the tying take down, but he could not convert it.
I will certainly miss watching Greg compete in a George Mason singlet. He has great wrestling skills and wrestles a hard pace. It is fun listening to other wrestling coaches and fans comment about how they are impressed with the effort they see from the GMU 157lber. Although I should probably give Greg a little time off, I have already bugged him about continuing to compete for the Patriot Elite Wrestling Club in Freestyle and Greco-Roman.
Now that the season is over, it is time for some self-review. I will be reflecting on where we are at and what we need to do to continue moving forward. I did learn from watching the NCAA tournament and with talking to others, we are a long way off from where we need to be. I do believe we are closer, but it is going to take extraordinary effort to close the gap.
At our team strength training practice this morning (yes the guys are already training for next season); I spoke to the guys about the need to work hard at closing the gap. I spoke to them about doing it the old fashioned way by trying to outwork others and by doing the little things right. Attention to detail and being consistent will assist us in closing the gap. Without getting lucky, I can’t think of a better way of increasing our odds of success.
I also told the team a few stories of why I believe a wrestler led team would help us move faster in the right direction as opposed to a coach led team. I do believe I can give them the answers to the test of what it takes to be great in this sport, but it is still up to them to get it done. I think peers pushing peers often leads to greater success than it always coming from a coach. Our team needs to do a better job of raising the bar for each other. They know more about what is going on within the program than I do. Teammates helping teammates make the right choices in life, school and in training has unbelievable value. I saw it as an athlete myself. I had great teammates who helped push each other. I have seen it as a coach. On the NCAA Championship teams I have been part of, one of the things they had in common was the wrestlers led each other to greatness. They were able to help each other grow to greatness. If we can get a larger group of guys loving the journey to be great together, it will pay dividends. The more invested the group is the easier it is for the individuals to grow.
My charge to the team is to love the journey. Be consistent in heading down the correct path. Do it alone if need be, but try to bring others with you. We can win at George Mason. We can have guys wrestling on Saturday at the NCAA tournament. It will require guys to sacrifice day in and day out, but it can be done. I hope they are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to get the job done. There certainly are no guarantees, but the odds are increased by doing things consistently the right way.