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.