Grapple 2016

We spent Thanksgiving weekend living in style. For the first time, we were able to travel on the new Mason Bus. We took pride in representing our University riding in the Mason bus up and down I95. I was able to show the coaches a fine place to eat in downtown Newark and Dan Wotring introduced us to a great burger place in Manhattan. These two places will be my go to joints in the future.

13 Mason wrestlers were given the opportunity to compete in the worlds most famous arena. Long after their days on the mat are done, my hope is they will have a good story to tell their grandchildren. I hope it was a meaningful experience for them representing George Mason University at Madison Square Garden.

In 5 years of attending the Grapple at the Garden, we are now 0-9 as a team. I am disheartened. Trying to find a formula to win has proved difficult. We have let too many situations slip through our fingers. We lost 7 matches to 3 against Buffalo and 6 matches to 4 against Hofstra.

Individually, Tejon Anthony and Sahid Kargbo went 2-0 on the day. I was pleased with Tejon’s poise and effort. Tejon scored the only bonus point of either team in our dual with Hofstra. Sahid beat a returning national qualifier with an overtime takedown. It is a win that will help his growth as a wrestler and will also help pave a path to the NCAA tournament. I think he was able to see some of his weaknesses today, so now it’s time to fix them. Daniel Mika wrestled up a weight class and won an important match for the team against Hofstra. Mika finished the day 1-0.

The Matts (Voss and Raines) finished the day 1-1. Both did not make the necessary adjustments during the bouts they lost. Adjusting to an opponent’s strengths is important to getting their hands raised. In the bouts they won, both were able to put points on the board. It was good to see them find ways to score.

Trevor Mello was 0-1. He started well in his bout scoring the first takedown and riding his opponent. Later in the bout he got out of position and was pinned. The 9 point swing in expected team score put us in a hole early in our bout with Buffalo. Quinton Tucker wrestled for us at 125 in the next dual. He lost by decision. I was pleased with his effort in the 3rd period, but he was in too big a hole to come out with the win. Austin Harrison was 0-1 on the day. He was pinned by his opponent from Buffalo. His lack of belief hurt his performance. Positive self talk and thought are crucial to success. If Austin starts to trust his preparation more during competition, he will see better results. Austin puts in the necessary work. Andrew Thomas wrestled up a weight class for the team in our dual with Buffalo. He lost by technical fall, but gave good effort for his team. Matt Meadows wrestled for us in the 2nd dual at 197. It was his first bout in over a year and a half. I was happy for him to have another opportunity to compete. He lost in overtime. He certainly had the ability to win the match and dual for his team, but fell short. His energy level was too low due to not sticking to his weight loss plan. Tough lesson to learn for him and the team. Nevertheless, Matt can still write a great story to his college career if he is willing to make the needed changes.

Lio Quezada, Garrett Tingen and Patrick Davis all went 0-2 on the day. Lio lost by fall, which is something he needs to change. It has happened too many times during his first month of college competition. He competed better in his 2nd match. He lost by a decision but finished on top in the 3rd. Lio’s future is bright due in part to his desire to get better and by living a good lifestyle. Garrett lost his bouts by decision. In both matches, he made costly mistakes at costly times. Garrett’s free spirit when he wrestles is going to make him fun to watch. As Garrett gets more practice and matches under his belt at the college level, he will be a force. Patrick Davis had a disappointing day. He is much better than the results showed. In his second bout, he was dominant for the vast majority of the bout. For some reason he seemed to panic and get frustrated at the end of the match. He earned the right to the lead and needed to close the door instead of stressing about being in late tough situations. It was a costly loss for the team in our dual against Hofstra.

Our performance needs to get better in order to be more competitive at D1 wrestling. Our attitude needs to be one of confidence, belief, and resolve. We need to enjoy the tough situations in training and competition. Love the process, journey and fight. The tough situations need to bring gratification rather than fear. Our effort must be the best we can give. Sometimes we hold back. Fear of failure, fatigue, and doubt can be tough to beat, but we certainly can crush them. We need to go forward, make the decision to stand our ground no matter what obstacle is in our path. Say no to the things that destroy our dreams. Say yes to the things that increase our opportunities to success.

I was strengthened by watching and listening to our team before, during and after the competition. They were pulling for each other and are coming together as a unit. The more they become like a family, the more they can help each other reach their goals. Our adventure in the Big Apple was painful at times, but it certainly can help produce positive outcomes down the road.

Our path does not grow easier. We need to have a sense of urgency. We open our EWL dual meet season Saturday at Bloomsburg and Sunday at Lock Haven. Our performance must improve. I have confidence this group of guys will raise the level of their performance.

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University Nationals

We had a good contingent of wrestlers choose to go to the University Nationals this past weekend. Although I would have liked everyone train and attend, we did have 14 wrestlers attend the competition – Ibrahim Bunduka, Bill Prochniewski, Ryan Renkey, Logan Harvich, Sahid Kargbo, Tejon Anthony, Matt Raines, Sean Raftery, Daniel Mika, Patrick Davis, Austin Harrison, Justin Hite, Gary Miltenberger, and Matt Voss. 13 competed in Freestyle and 9 guys competed in the Greco-Roman tournament. My hope is the matches will help them learn what they need to work on over the summer months. I believe competition helps with the evaluation process and can increase your learning curve.

Although we did not have anyone place in the Freestyle competition, we did have several guys win matches. Notably, Patrick Davis led the team with a 4-2 record. Matt Voss finished with a 3-2 record. Sahid Kargbo was 2-0, before being injured in a bout. We made the decision, despite his protest, to withdraw him from the remainder of the competition.

We had 3 placers in the Greco-Roman Tournament. Matt Raines and Ryan Renkey both placed 8th. Despite their lack of Greco-Roman experience, it was good seeing them have success. Matt Voss found a way to when the Heavyweight division. It was fun watching him compete. He wrestles a high pace and is willing to take risks. He won 3 matches in order to qualify for the best of 3 finals. In his semi-final match he won by a fall early in the bout after throwing a great left-handed head lock. He lost his first bout in the finals, but won the next two to punch his ticket to the University World Championships in Turkey. His composure and effort level were outstanding.

Off season wrestling is also good for team bonding. We were able to spend lots of time together. Every evening we were treated to great hospitality and food by the Meadows family. I know the guys are thankful. On our last night in Ohio, we were able to celebrate Tom Carr’s birthday and watch UFC 199 at the Meadows home. I think we might have overstayed our welcome as Mike and Connie went to bed before we left their home.

On Monday, I was able to attend the 29th Annual Patriot Club Alumni-Athlete Golf Outing. It was a beautiful day for the event. I ended the day by getting a tour of the Inn at Evergreen by Mike Garcia. I was more than impressed by the work done to renovate the historic home. The only bad thing about the event is we lost the award for the team with the most alumni in attendance to Baseball. I certainly prefer winning. Hopefully we can win it at the 30th Annual.

Speaking of winning, I am hopeful we can win the 2016 alumni-athlete giving challenge that concludes on June 30. We are currently in 3rd place. Thus, please pester alums in to giving. For more information about the alumni giving challenge and to give go to http://www.gomason.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=205073218&DB_OEM_ID=25200

The guys are now taking a few days off before beginning our summer Strength Program which will be led by John Delgado and Israel Silva.

Spring 2016

We have finished our spring training cycle. I was pleased to see the guys put in the work. Overall, I think guys made progress. For the next two weeks we will have no structured training as the guys complete their course work for the semester. I want them to finish well in the class room. We need to have a good semester as a team.

Two of our wrestlers will compete this weekend at the UWW Junior Freestyle Nationals in Las Vegas – Tejon Anthony and Cameron Houston. I wish we had more guys competing at the event, but the timing is not ideal given their school schedules. Israel Silva will coach Tejon and Cameron this weekend.

Once guys finish final exams, most of them will stick around to compete for our club team. We are going to host the University National Duals at George Mason University on May 21-22. This is a first time event that is being led by the Wrestlers in Business Network. As you know, this group is doing great things for wrestling. They are doing the extra things to make the tournament a one of a kind. They are hosting a career day, social, training session, and other special events as part of the duals. To learn more about it go to http://www.wibnevents.org. We are capping the field at 24 teams. I believe it will be a great weekend for those that attend and should help wrestling grow.

We recently held our end of the year banquet. I was pleased with the event. It continues to grow. Tom Carr ran the event for us and did a great job. We had 4 wrestlers win awards. Cameron Houston won the Freshman Academic Award. He is diligent in life and it is and will pay dividends. Tejon Anthony won the Most Improved Wrestler Award. Tejon used his redshirt year to get better. It showed in a 20 win season as a redshirt freshman. Ryan Renkey won the Upperclassmen Academic Award and the Paul Maltagliati Most Dedicated Wrestler Award. Ryan has shined in the classroom by getting a perfect 4.0gpa and he has also raised the level of our room. He is a hard worker who will do great things. Greg Flournoy won the Most Valuable Wrestler Award. He is on the Mason top ten career win list and finished his career as a two-time NCAA qualifier.

Six seniors gave speeches. I especially enjoyed listening to them talk about their time at Mason. These six guys will be missed. Greg Flournoy will graduate this spring with a degree in Economics. He was a four year starter who won 2 matches at the NCAA tournament during his career. Ryan Forrest plans to graduate in the fall with a degree in Finance. He was a three year starter who finished 3rd in the EWL tournament this year. Konbeh Koroma will graduate in a few weeks with a degree in Criminology. He started many duals for Mason during his time in the program. Luke Ludke will receive a degree with Konbeh in Criminology. Luke represented GMU at the EWL championships this past March. Vince Rodriguez will graduate in May with a History degree. Vince was a four year starter, three time conference placer and NCAA qualifier for Mason. Blake Roulo will get his degree in Integrative Studies. After transferring from Buffalo, Blake placed both times he competed for Mason at the EWL tournament.

Tom Carr has accepted the head wrestling coach position at Central Christian College. He has spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Mason and has left a positive mark on the program. We wish him well and will be cheering for his success as he leads his own program.

2016 EWL Tournament

We had 3 guys wrestle above their seed; 3 guys wrestle below their seed; 4 guys wrestle to their seed. With our peeking plan and where I thought the guys were at physically and mentally, I had confidence they would do better. It wasn’t that we had a bad tournament; we just needed to do a little better. As of today, we have no NCAA qualifiers. We do have a few guys who will receive some consideration for at-large bids. We will have to wait and see.

In the quarter-final round we went 4-6. Tejon Anthony, Blake Roulo, Greg Flournoy, and Matt Voss all advanced to the semi-finals. In the semi-finals, we went 0-4. We need to do better job getting guys into the finals. Last season we were able to get 2 guys into the finals (as a result, both qualified for the NCAA tournament). This year our closest semifinal bout was Blake Roulo. He lost on a passivity call and thus qualify for the NCAA tournament. It was a tough loss for him and the program.

We did a good job in the consolation rounds. In the consolation quarter-finals, we went 4-1. We were lucky enough to have 3 byes and Patrick Davis pinned his opponent. In the consolation semi-finals, we wrestled real well. We went 7-2. What made the results even better is it was a higher pressure round than in past years. As coaches we voted to wrestle to the top 4 places this year as opposed to placing the top 6. There was more emotion this year for the consolation semi-finals since a win was the only way a wrestler could place. In our conference coaches meeting before the finals, it was noted the change seemed to be a positive move for the conference. It was also apparent the crowd and teams were more into the matches as they needed to win to place. In the 3rd place matches we went 2-5.

Looking as a whole, I think we had an overall better tournament this year than our previous two years in the conference. In 2014, we had 3 guys place in the top 4. In 2015, we had 5 guys place in the top 4. This year we had 7 placers in the top 4. I have lots of would’ve, could’ve, should’ve thoughts running through my mind which makes our overall results disappointing. We had several opportunities to punch tickets to the NCAA tournament. We failed to capitalize on all of them.

At 125, Ibrahim Bunduka was seeded 2nd and placed 4th. In his opening round match IB wrestled aggressive but was unable to convert any of his take down attempts. He lost the bout 3-2. He had lost to the same guy earlier in the year so we knew it would be a tough match. Nevertheless, his effort was good. He received a bye in his first consolation bout and then won 18-14 in the consolation semi-finals. His aggressiveness was great, although he did not finish the match well. He gave up a few takedowns in the 3rd period to lose his bid for a major decision. In his bout for 3rd, he lost by decision to a guy he had beaten earlier in the year. Adjusting his attacks (lowering his hand placement on his shot) and getting out from bottom are areas he must improve.

At 133, Vince Rodriguez was seeded 2nd and finished 4th. Vince lost to the same guy in the opening round and in the 3rd place match. I think Vince as well as I overlooked his opponent from Cleveland State. I was confident Vince was going to win the tournament. We should have been more focused on finding a way to win one match at a time as opposed to qualifying for the NCAA tournament. It was a tough day for me personally, not seeing Vince do what I believe he was capable of doing. I wanted him to finish well at the EWL tournament.

At 141, #4 seed Tejon Anthony won his opening bout to make the semi-finals. He lost his next two matches, so he did not place. He lost to the eventual champion in a closer bout than he had against him earlier in the year. In the consolation semi-finals he lost to the eventual 3rd place wrestler. Tejon had a good freshman year. The experience should help him. He needs to get better on bottom. He knows that now and will have 12 months to solve the problem.

At 149, #5 seed Blake Roulo beat the #4 seed in the opening round. In the semi-finals he lost 2-1 to the eventual outstanding wrestler of the tournament. He came back strong with a major decision win in the consolation semi-finals. In his bout for 3rd, he gave up too many points early in the bout and then threw everything at his opponent he had ever thought of trying in a match but he couldn’t close the gap. Blake will receive consideration for an at-large spot at the NCAA tournament because he was one place away from an automatic bid.

At 157, Greg Flournoy was seeded 3rd and placed 3rd. He opened with a major decision win, but lost to the eventual champion in the semi-finals. Greg then won his next two matches to place 3rd. He was able to wrestle for a true second place bout and thus qualify for the NCAA tournament, but he was unable to win the match. We will now have to wait and see if he receives an at-large bid. He is in a good place to get one because of several factors: he qualified the spot for the conference because he was a gold standard wrestler before the conference tournament; I believe he will still be gold standard when the new rankings and RPI are determined today; He has over 70% wins; he was one place out from qualifying; he has beaten 5 guys already in the NCAA field and he has arguments over some of the other guys up for consideration. On the negative side, some crazy things happened this weekend at other qualifying tournaments. There are some good wrestlers looking from the outside trying to get into the tournament. I know Greg deserves a bid and that he will do well at the NCAA tournament. My hope is the committee agrees. It will be a long couple of days waiting to see if Greg will get his opportunity.

At 165, Patrick Davis was unseeded. He lost a close bout to the #3 seed in the opening bout and in the 3rd place bout. On a positive note he won two consolation bouts to finish 4th. He opened with a first period pin and then in his consolation semi-final bout he was able to beat the #4 seed 3-0. He had lost to the same opponent 2x during the year. Patrick is close to doing real well. He needs to spend the next 12 months building his body into a machine and getting better on bottom.

At 174, Ryan Forrest was unseeded and placed 3rd. Ryan lost a close bout to the #2 seed in the quarter-finals. He then had a bye, followed by a win by pin over the #4 seed. He was able to avenge his opening round loss with a 5-3 win to place 3rd. Ryan had a frustrating year with lots of physical issues. I was pleased he was able to put together a good tournament to finish the season with a more positive feeling. Now Ryan will have time to heal and figure out what is going on physically.

At 184, unseeded Luke Ludke lost his opening bout to the #2 seed. Luke wrestled him much better than he did earlier in the season. Luke received a bye and then lost his consolation semi-final bout to the #4 seed. I was pleased to see the progress Luke made this year. He made a huge jump in weight classes to become the starter for the program. As a result, he was able to compete more. He did a good job of learning this year. He became a much better college wrestler as a result.

At 197, unseeded Cameron Houston lost his opening bout to the #3 seed. He then lost to the eventual 4th placer. 197 was a tough weight class this year in the EWL. It was a difficult season for Cameron. My hope is he is able to learn and writes a great story to his college wrestling career.

At Heavyweight, Matt Voss was seeded 4th and he placed 4th. Matt had a bye in the opening round. He then lost by a decision in the semi-finals. He won his bout in the consolation semi-finals, but then lost his bout for third. I love the pace Matt Voss wrestles. He needs to spend the next 12 months getting better in positions and holding good position. He needs better basic defense and a greater ability to ride his opponents.

This week is our spring break at George Mason University. I told the guys to stay close to campus in case we receive good news on Wednesday. My hope is all of us take this week to do some self-review. We need to make sure we continually work to improve ourselves and our program.

First Week of February

February can be a tough month for college wrestlers. The season is almost over; the matches seem to have a greater impact on what will happen in March, the body and mind can be worn down. We have made this February even tougher for our team as we are competing at least twice per week. My hope is the extra training we did this fall has helped build up their minds and bodies. I also hope they look forward to the multiple competitions. They have the opportunity to show off all of the hard work they have put in during their preparation phase. They have the opportunity to compete as opposed to practice. They have the opportunity to help their bid to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. It is a tough month, but one where they can make some big gains as people and wrestlers.

This past week we competed on Sunday at Rider University. On Wednesday we were on the road again competing at the United States Naval Academy. We lost 6 matches to 4. I felt going to the Naval Academy was a good day for our program. The value system of the Academy is similar to the value system of our program. Lots of the principles taught in our MasonWay are the same as taught at the USNA. Part of the MasonWay document is things I have directly taken from the Head Coach of the Naval Academy. I also liked the way the Naval Academy wrestlers carried themselves on the mat. We need to emulate their style more in our wrestling. They showed great hustle and belief in their system. It was a good learning experience for our team. By using hustle and belief, I felt a few matches went the way of our competition. We can and need to improve in this area. All 4 of the matches we won were by bonus points. Tejon Anthony, Greg Flournoy, and Ibrahim Bunduka all won by major decisions. IB’s win was impressive. He had lost by a technical fall to the same opponent in November. In a little over 2 months, there was a 24 point difference between their first bout and the second. It was an impressive turn around. I was also impressed with Matt Voss getting a victory by fall. When he caught his opponent on his back, I did not think he was in a position to finish. I was wrong. Matt was focused and determined to secure the pin.

On Saturday we hosted Bloomsburg University. The last time we wrestled them at the RAC, they shut us out. We did much better this time. We won 7 of the 8 matches contested. We also received 2 forfeits. Bloomsburg is having a down year, but I am confident they will be back in the mix very soon. Sometimes to build program, you need to be patient to get the right foundation. I believe their coach is looking at long term growth over short term success. He did not like forfeiting, but also believed it best to build for the future. We appreciate Bloomsburg coming to our campus to compete with us.

Earlier in the week, Bloomsburg had planned on forfeiting to us at 141. I had Tejon Anthony train differently as a result. Shortly before weigh ins we were informed Bloomsburg had decided not to forfeit the match but instead would contest the bout with one of their wrestlers moving up in weight class. As soon as I learned of the change, I let Tejon know. Tejon was certainly tested mentally and physically as a result of the last minute change. He handled the adversity well. He was focused and scored lots of points individually and for his team. It was good to see him rise to the occasion yet again.

We did receive forfeits at 125 and 149. As soon as weigh ins were over and we knew they would not compete, Ibrahim Bunduka and Blake Roulo both did a hard training session. Both said they wished they had wrestled instead. As a coach I was pleased to see them push themselves so hard and to see them wanting to compete.

Greg Flournoy and Vince Rodriguez both won tough matches. I was very pleased to see them raise their level in the 3rd period. It seemed that both knew what they needed to do to win the 3rd period and the match. Both being 5th year seniors and 4 year starters, I could see their experience shine in the tough part of the bout. They had been in similar situations in the past and knew how to handle the mental and physical implications.

Cameron Houston lost his bout at 197. As a true freshman, who we had planned on red shirting, Cameron has been thrown to the fire. He has struggled. My hope is he continues to learn. Sometimes we learn what not to do. It is a hard way to learn, but it can lead to success in the long run. If Cameron continues to learn and believes in himself, he has a huge upside. He can grow by leaps and bounds from competing as a true freshman.

Patrick Davis pinned his opponent in the first period. He was aggressive on top and was able to complete a cross-face cradle for the pin. I liked his aggressiveness. Matt Voss scored 2 takedowns to secure the win in his bout. He is doing a good job and continues to learn and improve. Luke Ludke showed great hustle toward the end of his bout. He had some good scrambles and showed extra effort in the 3rd period. I believe this helped him score the defensive takedown in overtime. His attitude and effort were positives for him. Daniel Mika won his first match of the year as he filled in for Ryan Forrest. He was able to secure an offensive takedown and get back points. I was happy he was able to find a way to win.

While we were competing at home, three of our wrestlers competed at the Messiah Open. Ryan Renkey, competing at 133 for the first time this season, finished the day in 5th place with a 3-2 record. Sahid Kargbo finished the day with a 4-0 record and the championship at 149lbs. Both of these guys will be seniors next year. Our future looks bright due in part to these soon to be seniors.

We will compete at home again this coming Saturday. We host Franklin and Marshall College at 1pm and then we host Bucknell University at 3pm. Our team will be tested. We will see several nationally ranked competitors. February is a tough month, but with the right attitude and effort it can be a great month.

On Valentine’s Day, we will be on the road at the University of Maryland. We will compete at their Beauty and the Beast event. Our 2pm dual will take place alongside the University of Maryland Women Gymnastics competition against Rutgers University. It should be a fun environment for our guys to compete in and it should help our preparation for the NCAA tournament.

Mason All-Americans

We did not compete this week. My hope is by not having the guys compete this week, they were able to prepare better for final exams. Let’s hope they finish well. Since we were not competing, we were able to get in some good training sessions. Often time, with impending competitions, there really is not much time to train. Wrestlers are worried about making weight, instead of getting better. Coaches are worried guys don’t get hurt, instead of worrying about getting better. Thankfully, we got better this week.

On Saturday, we had some wrestle-offs. I am not a big fan of wrestle-offs. My hope is to have a clear starter determined through competition. Nevertheless, sometimes it is best to have a wrestle-off. Put it in the hands of the wrestlers. We now have a set line-up for our home dual with American University on December 19. We will also use the Lock Haven tournament on December 29 to further determine our starters for the season.

When we hosted the NWCA All-Star Classic, I wrote several articles for the meet program. Sadly, some of them did not make the cut and they were excluded from the program. I did not take it personal, because I know I am not a journalist and there were other issues as to the content of the program. I did like an article I had written about George Mason University’s wrestling All-Americans. The article was good because of the quotes given to me by the former All-Americans, not because of my writing skills. I have copied and pasted the article below with the hope the guys on the team will learn from the wisdom of the former All-Americans and because I think it is an interesting read.

George Mason University All-Americans

Scott Kirsch became George Mason University’s first All-American. He recalls, “I remember walking up to Cole Field House before the All American round feeling great, in the zone. Then Coach Moyer was nice enough to tell me this is the round he lost in 2 years in a row. Well that’s when the nerves hit.” Scott Kirsch beat the #5 seeded wrestler Mike Lingenfelter of Loch Haven University to become Mason’s first All-American. Scott Kirsch was 5-2 at the NCAA tournament and finished in 7th place. Another memory Scott Kirsch shared was, “One other thing was on my recruiting visit and Coach asked what my goal was. I told him I wanted to be an All American. I am not so sure he believed me. In the NCAA’s I remember each round there were less people on the mat and more of my team mates in the stands. This is when I thought of all the extra time I put in to train and all the times I was wondering why I was doing this. When I won my all American match it took so much pressure off of me. It really was my goal and to put the time in and to have it pay-off is something I will never forget.”

Johnny Curtis is Mason’s only 2x All-American. He garnered the honors in 1992 and 1993. In 1992, Johnny won his opening two matches to qualify for the quarter-finals. He lost to Randy Couture of Oklahoma State University in the quarter-finals. In his next bout he cruised to an 11-5 decision over Dave Malecek of the University of Northern Iowa to become an All-American. In 1993, Johnny Curtis lost his opening bout in a 7-7 tie break criteria. He then went on to win three straight bouts including an upset win over #9 seeded Emilio Collins of Michigan State University to become a 2x All-American. He finished 5-2 and placed 7th in the National Tournament. Curtis, always humble, thought he did pretty well at GMU. But said, “I really got better on the U.S. National Team.” From 1996 to 2000 he competed in Freestyle wrestling and was ranked as high as #3.

In 1995, Matt Finacchio became Mason’s third All-American. He opened the tournament with a fall and an upset win over #7 seeded Glen Nieradka of Oregon State University. He lost to Penn State University’s Sanshiro Abe in the quarter-final round. He won his next bout over Wayne Jackson of North Carolina State University to become an All-American. In talking about the match, Finacchio stated, “the All-American round is like no other round in college wrestling. Win and you get to wear the title of All-American for the rest of your life or lose and go home. All the three a day work outs, controlling my weight and pushing my body further than I ever thought possible was for this moment. With my Brother Dan and Coach Mike Moyer in my corner, I was bursting with both family and team pride. I was wrestling for more than just me; I was representing my family and George Mason University. Aside from the birth of my children, nothing was more exhilarating than jumping into Coach Moyer’s and my brother’s arms after a hard fought victory.” Matt Finacchio also stated, “I remember the competition. In wrestling there is no one to blame, but a lot of people to thank. There is no chance of becoming an All-American without being pushed in the wrestling room by people like Willie Stravino, Kurt McHenry and Bryan Hazard.”

Who will be Mason’s next All-American? Only time will tell. The Mason tradition continues.

Journeyman NE Duals and Grapple at the Garden

It was a tough weekend for the George Mason University Patriots.  We wrestled 5 duals in 2 days.  On Saturday we wrestled 3 duals at the NE Journeyman Duals.  Then on Sunday, we wrestled 2 duals at the Grapple at the Garden.  I think the weekend was good in preparing the guys for the National tournament.  You have to be ready to wrestle multiple tough matches on consecutive days.  I hope we will benefit from the experience.  Being in front of big crowds and on the big stage at Madison Square Garden will help the guys visualize wrestling in the National tournament.  The national tournament stage will not appear as grand, since they have already wrestled on a big stage.

Saturday morning we beat a much improved Sacred Heart University team.  We won 8 of the 10 matches in the dual.

In our second round bout we faced the 7th ranked University of Illinois team.  We lost every match in the dual.  We wrestled a talented team and did not do a good job of staying in the matches.  We needed to stay within striking distance in order to give ourselves a shot to win.  Too often we gave up points early in the match which hurt our confidence and only bolstered our opponent’s confidence.  Illinois did a good job of dictating the pace and position of their matches.  We were not very competitive in the dual.

Our last dual of the day we lost to Binghamton University.  I was certainly frustrated by the team loss, because I felt we could have won the dual.  We won 4 of the 10 matches.  I felt we had a chance to win at least one more match and win the dual meet as a result.  The 4 guys that won bouts did a good job.  Rich Lavorato was able to get a takedown in the 3rd period to beat a guy who beat him last season.  Sahid Kargbo was able to get us 2 bonus points which are huge in a dual meet.  Luke Ludke won his bout in overtime.  Shohei Takagi rode his opponent for the entire 3rd period to win his bout 2-0.  It was a frustrating loss for the team.

On Sunday we were able to compete in Madison Square Garden.  The event is run first class and it is an exciting venue.  In our first dual, we lost 8 matches to 2 to Rutgers University.  We struggled with having a sense of urgency when we competed.  We needed to explode more and fight every position with greater resolve.

In our second match we lost to Drexel University.  Once again we were one win away from winning the dual as a team.  I was disappointed we feel short again.  We need to have guys rise to the occasion.  We need to find a way to win the close match or close team dual.  We can do it.  We will do it.

One disappointing thing from the weekend was not seeing what we spend time on in the practice translate on the competition floor.  We spend time teaching technique.  We go over skills to the point of overkill.  Nevertheless, we are not seeing them when we compete.  As coaches we need to figure out how to get the techniques ingrained in our athletes, so they know what to do when it needs to be done.

For example we spend lots of time working on getting off bottom.  Nevertheless, we were ridden quite a bit this weekend.  Worse than being ridden, it was our lack of ability to try things we have been teaching that was frustrating.  Back pressure into our opponents, moving and maintaining good position, turning our opponent’s leg ride into an offense position for us…  There is nothing easy about getting off bottom.  You need to have an attitude that no one can ride you.  You also need to be able to perform multiple skills to get out from under your opponent.

Questions for coaches to answer are what are we doing wrong in teaching the technique and attitude?  I think part of it falls on the athletes to spend more time and effort on developing skills, but certainly some of it falls on us as coaches.  Maybe we should spend less time on Freestyle and Greco-Roman in the spring and summer and do more mat wrestling?  Maybe we should teach a different system for getting off bottom?  Generally we have guys stand or switch their hips.  Maybe we should emphasize sit outs or rolls instead?  It is perplexing problem that we must fix quickly.

I believe if you can defend your opponent’s offense, have a good offense of your own and be able to get away from anyone, you should win most matches.  Right now we are struggling in important areas.

Mark Schwab writes great blogs.  I love reading what he writes.  Yesterday he posted a blog that hits home with me and hopefully with the team.  I usually share what he writes with the team.  I will share his newest blog with the team as well.  Yesterday, Mark Schwab posted the following blog:

 “I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way

Do you have a goal, passion or destination that’s always on your mind? Are you constantly romancing and imagining yourself accomplishing something personal and extraordinary? An effective answer for everything that is involved with your goals and passions is I will, I’ll adjust, and I’ll find a way. Talk about conviction and optimism. Talk about bravery and tilting the scale in your favor. These words, if followed by behavior, will simplify and strengthen your hunt. No standing at the crossroads of indecision. The unyielding response of I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way is confidence, direction, and giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find away is being totally immersed in your journey and the feelings of certainty and dedication. God gives the gift of I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find away. So you can abandon comfort and limits as you moil for your potential-This is where you dig your deepest well, in addition to using yourself up. I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way is your life at its most boundless moments.

I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way is an influential decision that climbs mountains, runs marathons, writes book, earns degrees, enrolls and completes fitness programs, competes and goes all-out, closes the deal, manages and overcomes adversity, brings family and friends together, battles and beats cancer, accomplish goals in spite of disabilities or obstacles, gains the respect of all, and makes a phenomenon possible.

I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way does not delay, procrastinate, or doubt.

I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way is movement, potent, and convincing.

I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find away has no cage, boundaries, limits or rules.

I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find away is decisive, specific and persuasive-These are necessary ingredients to overcome, go beyond, and shoot ahead. The power of this mindset has invincible written all over it.

I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find away is sureness and spirit. Determination felt this strongly is more than we could hope for. Life is overflowing with unrestricted possibilities when you’re boundless and brave in imagination-I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way is just that.

I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way is persuasive and credible self communication. Understand, words mean little when unattended by behavior but compelling when backed with corresponding behavior.

I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way is an announcement that stops at nothing, does the possible, and provides s what’s necessary to achieve the difficult and impossible.

So, how about it? Achieving what’s important to you will have scores of demands but possible. No more resisting or contemplation. Search yourself, make a decision, and your answers until your passion is achieved is I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way.

Thanks for sharing the wisdom Mark Schwab.