Indiana and Navy Classic

We had our home opener and first competition of the year on Thursday Night against Indiana University. I was thankful so many people came out to support the team on a school night and at the same time as the Olympic Wrestling Victory tour was taking place in DC. I was afraid we would miss out on having fans in the stands, I was thankfully incorrect.

We lost 8 matches to 2 and gave up bonus points in 5 of the matches we lost. No doubt we are better than we performed. I believe it showed when we wrestled some of the same guys 2 days later at the Navy Classic.

At 125 and 133 we lost via first period falls. It was the first time either guy had put on the Mason singlet. I think both were not ready for the intensity of a college dual. Both learned from the experience, as was evident from their performance 2 days later. At 141, Tejon Anthony did a good job of finding a way to win in overtime. Ironically, he drew the same opponent in the first round of the Navy Classic. He won again, but did so in a more dominant fashion the second time around. Sahid Kargbo had an impressive win at 149. We lost by a major decision at 157 and 197. I believe both guys had trouble making adjustments during their matches. It is important, to give yourself a chance at winning, to make adjustments during bouts. If a guy is beating you in a certain position, defend it differently or avoid the position later in the bout. At 184, we lost by a second period fall to a highly ranked wrestler. At 165, 174 and Heavyweight we lost by decision. We need to find a way of winning the close matches in order to win duals. We did not score any bonus points and gave up too many – every team point matters. My hats off to the 4 guys who made their D1 college debuts on Thursday night – Quinton Tucker, Lio Quezada, Matt Raines and Garrett Tingen – less than 1% of high school wrestlers go on to wrestle at the D1 level. These 4 were able to live a dream most high school wrestlers have.

We had 18 wrestlers compete this weekend. For me, this is an exciting thing to see. Often time, competition helps you improve. 4 wrestlers chose to wrestle unattached at the Star City Open. Tahla Farooq and Philip Stolfi both finished 2-2 on the day and both placed 4th. Ibrahim Bunduka and Creed Lumpp both won the tournament. IB was 4-0 finishing with one fall, 2 tech falls and 1 major decision. Creed was 5-0 finishing with 3 falls and 2 major decisions. Winning a college open is never easy, but Creed and IB both look to have been dominant in the 9 matches they won on Saturday.

We had 14 wrestlers represent the team at the Navy Classic. We had hoped to have even more enter the event, but injuries kept them from the competition. Overall, I was pleased with the team’s performance. I want our team to be known for wrestling an aggressive and dominating style while having fun doing so. Thus, give their best effort and have the right attitude. I think we sent the right message on Saturday.
125
Trevor Mello made his college debut and was able to finish the day 1-2. He has chosen to forgo his red shirt year to help his team. I have been impressed by his work ethic. He will get better, due in part to his tenacity.
Quinton Tucker finished the day 2-2. He did a good job of turning things around after his loss on Thursday. It was clear he was trying to learn and get better. I enjoyed the enthusiasm he showed during the day.
133
Logan Harvich finished the day with a 3-3 record and placed 6th. It was a good start for his college career. My hope is he learns from the experience. He needs to put together a more consistent 7 minute fight. He got in jams when he didn’t stay focused on the task at hand. Logan has the physical talent and skills to be a successful college wrestler. I am excited about his future.
Lio Quezada finished the day 4-2 and placed 5th. His first few months of college wrestling have been impressive. His work ethic stands out from the pack, which bodes well for him gaining ground quickly. On Thursday night, he was overwhelmed by his opponent from Indiana. He was taken down, turned a few times and pinned in the first period. The match was not close. Afterward we talked and I was hopeful he would get another opportunity to face the Indiana wrestler again. I knew he could do better. Lio earned the right to wrestle him again by winning his opening bout in an impressive comeback fashion. This time Lio was able to stay in the match early on and almost pulled off the victory. He lost 9-8 to the same guy who was ahead of him 10-0 before pinning him on Thursday. Lio also added to the pin pool by pinning one of his opponents.
141
Tejon Anthony opened the day with the same opponent he beat in overtime on Thursday. This time he scored early and won 5-2. Tejon finished 6th with a 3-3 record on the day. His wins were impressive and his losses were frustrating. Tejon is good and close to turning the corner to great. Because of his demeanor, ability to learn and desire, it is not a matter of if he can become great, rather how fast he can get there.
157
Matt Raines finished the day with a 1-2 record. I know he is frustrated as he has said as much. He is adjusting to a 2 weight class jump which is difficult to do. My hope is he can stay confident as he works through the needed adjustments in being a 157lber. Holding better position against the bigger and stronger opponents is a must. I am confident Matt will see better results down the road.
165
We did not enter anyone at this weight class, which was disappointing. We are fighting the injury bug. Nevertheless, we gave up the opportunity to score team points at this weight class. Ironically, we finished the tournament ½ of a point behind The Citadel. One more win or bonus point would have put us ahead of them.
174
Patrick Davis finished the day with a 5-2 record. I was pleased to see him take lots of shots and finish them at a high percentage. On Thursday night he did not score any take downs. He did not make many attempts. On Saturday he wrestled the same opponent and scored multiple takedowns. I would still like to see Pat by more aggressive on bottom and top. When he works hard in these positions he has success. He struggles on top and bottom when he doesn’t continually work to improve his position. My hope is this 5th year senior stays healthy and does everything right (including the little things) over the next 4 months. If he does so, he will finish well at the NCAA tournament.
184
Austin Harrison finished the day 0-2. There is no doubt Austin has improved. He has spent lots of time learning the craft, he has done the extra workouts, and he has improved his speed, conditioning, strength, technique and mat awareness. He will continue to improve if he is able to stay on track with the tough part of D1 wrestling – belief. Being a D1 wrestler, even for the blue chip wrestler, is a daunting task. Trusting the system – belief in the program is a must. At the end of the day, there are no guarantees. Most D1 wrestlers will fall short of standing on the podium in March. It is a fact, a tough reality. The ones that do make it to the podium are the select few. One of the things All-Americans have in common is the belief they can get there in the end. I need Austin to believe in the system and to continue working toward his goal with the belief he can get the job done.
Daniel Mika finished the day 2-2. In the matches he lost, he did not give himself enough opportunities to win. I was pleased to see when he took risks he had the ability to score points, even as he is making his decent to the 165lb weight class. Daniel has the skills to score points on 184lbers. When he got on his opponents legs he showed power and skill in his finishes. It was good to see.
197
Andrew Thomas wrestled up a weight class for us on Thursday and Saturday as Matt Meadows is out with an injury. He did not win any of his matches, but I was pleased to see him compete for all 7 minutes in his bouts. He has come a long way as a wrestler. I enjoyed watching him compete.
HWT
Matt Voss, Gary Miltenberger and Justin Hite all wrestled for us at this weight class. They finished the day with a 1-6 record. These 3 are better than they showed on Saturday. I was disappointed by the results. They have a good training situation and do a good job in the room. I was perplexed by what I saw in the competition circle. My challenge to them is to make each other as good as they can possibly be. We should be doing better at this weight class. Voss and Miltenberger were able to spend a year with a 2x NCAA Qualifier as their training partner. They were also coached for 2 years by a hands on highly respected heavy weight coach who Hite worked with for one year. They have club guys who have spent time training with them since they arrived on campus. They now have a coach who can push them in live goes as well. I am sure they are frustrated by the weekend, more so than I, but I need them to show the fruits of their labor in competition. They can get the job done for themselves and for the team.
149
Sahid Kargbo became the first champ I have coached at the Navy Classic. He is Mason’s first champ since Cayle Byers won the tournament in 2010. His growth has been fun to watch. He continues to get better. 3 of his wins on the day were with bonus points including his tech fall win in the finals. Maybe his most impressive win of the day, came in a match he was behind in for nearly 6 minutes. He gave up a takedown and was ridden in the first period. Although he did not escape, he worked hard on bottom. Afterward he said he knew if he kept trying it would help him later in the match. His attitude was correct. Even though he did not score, he was making his opponent work. He was able to score 3 takedowns in the third period and added another one in overtime to win. It was good to see him overcome the adversity of being behind late in the match. It was a great gut check win. His belief in his ability has grown. This will serve him well as he will need to overcome more adversity down the road. It is early in the season, so it is important to learn as much as one can. It is important not to get too excited or down. Nevertheless, this weekend was a positive step forward for Sahid as he looks to do something special in his senior season.

We travel to New York this coming weekend. It will put a damper on Thanksgiving gluttony, but it will be much more fun competing in Madison Square Garden on Sunday, November 27. We will wrestle Buffalo University at 1030am and Hofstra University at 1230pm. If you want to attend the event, we still have tickets available in the Mason section. Feel free to contact me by email if you are interested in buying tickets. My email is jrusse13@gmu.edu.

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