2017 NCAA Tournament

It was an honor to have Ibrahim Bunduka and Sahid Kargbo represent George Mason University at the 2017 NCAA tournament. They represented the institution, program, team and themselves with class. We ended up departing a day early to the tournament due to an impending storm headed to our area. In hindsight, it was a good decision as our originally scheduled flights were canceled. We had a good contingent of staff and fans to support the wrestlers at the event. After we arrived in St Louis, we were able to watch a television interview aired back in DC about the two athletes representing GMU at the NCAA tournament (http://wjla.com/sports/rising-stars/rising-stars-sahid-kargbo-ibrahim-bunduka).

Ibrahim Bunduka lost both of his matches. He struggled to make the necessary adjustments during his bouts in order to win. Nevertheless, he gained valuable experience and gave great effort. IB can bring back the knowledge gained to improve personally and to help his teammates. Even though it was tough to do, IB was interviewed shortly after his last NCAA bout (http://www.flowrestling.org/video/1135473-bunduka-puts-life-and-wrestling-in-perspective). I believe he did a good job. Sahid Kargbo finished 1-2. He lost by a decision in his first bout to the eventual runner-up in his weight class. He won his second bout by decision. In his final bout, he challenged his opponent in his opponent’s best position. Sahid almost won the position, he went for it, but was unable to come out on top. I was heartbroken for IB and Sahid, not to reach their goals.

I am ashamed to say I also had a pity party of my own after they lost. It is not about me and should be about the athletes and the program. Nevertheless, I spent the remainder of the tournament questioning myself and staying away from people. I do believe it is important to do self-review. We need to figure out how to consistently move the program forward. Thus, trying to figure out my mistakes and short comings is important. On the other hand, I should not feel sorry for myself and be a person that is negative to be around. I wasted a day and a half we could have gotten better by wallowing in self-pity. It was a tough weekend. I apologize for having a bad attitude and for not positively developing relationships during the weekend. I missed the opportunity to spend time with friends and meet new people.

As a college coach, there is always work to be done. Our staff has been working hard since we returned from the 2017 NCAA tournament, so we can prepare the team and program for the 2018 NCAA tournament. It is amazing how fast things seem to move.

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2017 EWL Championships

We did not have the best EWL tournament, which has caused me concern. I want to make sure we are properly preparing the team for post season competition. I thought our plan and preparation went well, but we did not get the results I had anticipated. We were 9-19 overall (excluding 5 byes we received). We had 4 guys finish 0-2 (excluding 3 byes received). We finished 5th as a team. If we want to move up in the league standings, we will need to have more guys scoring points and have a better win percentage.

Our first round of competition went as expected. All 5 of our seeded wrestlers advanced to the semi-finals. It was close to being a good round as we almost pulled off two upsets. Ryan Forrest and Matt Meadows both lost close overtime bouts to higher seeded wrestlers. Those losses were painful and might have contributed to us struggling later in the tournament. Momentum is real. Whether in your favor or against, it can snowball.

In the semi-finals, we did as expected. We went 1-4. I was hopeful we would be able to get more guys in the finals. Even with the losses, I liked the effort and determination of the semi-finalists.

In the first consolation round, we only had two guys draw matches (the other 3 guys received byes). We went 1-1. Lio Quezada was able to win his bout with a first period fall. It was the only pin we would get as a team. Speaking of momentum, his fall did give his teammates energy. He gave us some positive momentum.

Last year we had a great consolation semi-final round. I expected the same results this year as we tend to do better the longer we are in a tournament. Nevertheless, it was not to be. We went 3-5 in the consolation semi-final. Ibrahim Bunduka and Matt Voss won decisively, while Matt Raines won a crazy back and forth bout. Tejon Anthony lost a heart breaker as he had done earlier in the semi-finals. It was tough to see him so close but not get his hand raised.

In the placing matches we went 1-3. Sahid Kargbo had a disappointing finish in the finals. Matt Raines and Matt Voss lost close bouts in their respective consolation finals. Fortunately, Ibrahim Bunduka had an upset win to place third and more importantly a win that qualified him to advance to the NCAA Tournament. I was very excited for IB. It was also a big win for our team. It is important to have guys step up when there is a lot on the line. No doubt IB’s preparation and determination played a role in his success.

I am excited to have IB and Sahid representing George Mason University at the NCAA Championships. Both are shining examples of guys who have made great gains by doing the right things to be successful at the D1 level. Less than 1% of high school wrestlers are able to say they are on a D1 roster. Thus, D1 wrestlers are often the cream of the crop. Neither Sahid nor IB won a high school state title. They were not blue chip recruits added to a D1 team. They have rose to an elite level by stringing together good decisions and putting forth great effort. They are examples of the Masonway. They have a lifestyle that is conducive to success. Both are consistent in their training and find reasons to lace up their wrestling shoes as opposed to doing something else. They have foregone many things to be in the place they are today. When I speak to the team and give guys direction, often it falls on deaf ears. IB and Sahid have listened. They have made choices to follow the Masonway. They believe in the system. They trust the program.

With great anticipation, we are helping IB and Sahid prepare for the NCAA tournament. My prayer for them is that they will embrace the opportunity. I want them to wrestle with excitement and have fun. I want them focused on putting on the best performance they can. I want them to go get what they have earned. I want there to be as little thought as possible on winning and losing. The results will take care of themselves. Both are capable of doing something special in St Louis. If they focus on giving their best effort and have the correct attitude, they will do great things.