American and Sacred Heart

In planning the schedule last year, I was pleased when I was able to lock down 4 dual meets in 12 days to end our regular season. I felt having this team make weight and compete 4 times in such a short time span would be a great test for them mentally and physically to end the regular season. As a coach, I fear giving the guys more than they can handle late in the season. I fear late season injuries. In hindsight, I was pleased how things worked out. The team handled the added stress well. They are better as a result of the late season duals. I was pleased to see the plan work out as I had hoped.

On Friday night, we went to American University where we lost the dual 7 matches to 3. I was frustrated by the lack of offense by our team. We were only able to score 3 takedowns on the night. I felt we left too many points on the board. I was frustrated, for the team, as I know they are capable of more than they showed. Sahid Kargbo, Ryan Forrest and Matt Voss were all victorious. Matt Voss avenged a loss from the previous season and showed his improvement. Tejon Anthony lost an 11 minute multiple overtime match as he was unable to finish his attacks. I was disappointed with the result but pleased with his effort. Matt Raines lost a close bout in regulation, but I was pleased to see his effort level. I know if he wrestles at the pace he did on Friday, he will find success down the road.

On Sunday afternoon, we hosted Sacred Heart University. We were able to send our seniors out with a team win. I was pleased we were able to honor 6 seniors – Patrick Davis, Ryan Forrest, Sahid Kargbo, Matt Meadows, Ryan Renkey, and Andrew Thomas. It is rewarding to see guys make it through 4 or 5 seasons of D1 wrestling and graduate from the institution. It is a difficult path to navigate and I tip my hat to these seniors.

We won the dual 6 matches to 4. Ibrahim Bunduka won by a forfeit. Lio Quezada fell behind early and fought hard to come back. Although he fell short, I was pleased to see his resilience. Tejon Anthony scored a quick takedown and made a mistake which resulted in him losing his bout by a fall. I know he learned as a result, but I wish he could have learned the defense without it being so costly. It was painful to see his disappointment. Sahid Kargbo won by a major decision. It was great to see him let lose, have fun and score points. Matt Raines did a good job of hustling and was rewarded with an important win for his team. Daniel Mika scored 2 offensive takedowns and was able to get off bottom in the second period. Unfortunately, he was unable to close out the match with a win. He needed to keep scoring points and moving on bottom. I was disappointed for him. Ryan Forrest scored lots of points in route to a major decision. He made an adjustment to his single leg shot which proved beneficial. Austin Harrison stepped aside so Andrew Thomas could wrestle in front of the home crowd one more time. I appreciated Austin’s willingness to let Andrew compete. Although Andrew lost, I hope he enjoyed the opportunity to compete one last time at the RAC. Matt Meadows finished his home career with a win. I was pleased so many of his family were able to watch his last home competition. Once again a dual meet came down to Matt Voss. Once again he stepped up in a big way. He pinned his opponent in the first period to seal the deal for his team.

On March 4, the team will compete at the EWL tournament with the plan of securing a spot at the NCAA Tournament. The anticipation is exciting and fun. We will spend the next few weeks preparing mentally and physically for the post season. I am excited for these guys to have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams which have turned into goals. Let’s do our utmost to reach the goals we set at the start of the season.

Rider

Last weekend, was positive for the George Mason Wrestling program. We invited alums back to campus. It was great to see them reconnecting with each other, building new memories, and supporting the current team. Alums are unbelievably important to our program. They helped shaped the past and will help shape our future. Thanks to those who came to support our alumni weekend, including former head coaches Jerry Mullins, Mike Moyer and Brian Shaffer.

We lost our dual to Rider, but did split matches 5-5. We gave up a discouraging 9 bonus points in the 5 matches we lost. We were not competitive in some of the matches. I was frustrated by the number of stall calls against us. Part of the problem was the gap in skill level, but part of the problem was a lack of fight. We need to address the short comings that are within our control.

There were certainly positives as well. Things we can learn from and build upon. I was pleased to see Ibrahim Bunduka find a way to win a match where he was struggling physically and mentally. I loved seeing Lio Quezada overcome a 6-2 deficit heading into the last period of his bout to come away with the win. 3rd period comebacks are fun to watch – they show grit; they show a person who has prepared properly; they inspire others…Tejon Anthony and Sahid Kargbo picked up their 16th and 22nd victories of the season. Both are helping lead their team. In the last bout of the day, Matt Voss won and exciting match over a wrestler who beat him twice last season. It was a statement win for him in his bid to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

We have a rare weekend off from competing. Many times I have scheduled competitions on Super Bowl Sunday. Many times I have been told I ruined the day. When I coached at Minnesota, the Big Ten often mandated we compete on Super Bowl Sunday. It really was not my fault, but because I was in charge of travel more than once I felt the anger from the team. I remember being jeered by the team when we were in the air and the pilot gave Super Bowl updates. I remember guys waiting to the last moment to board a flight as they watched the game near the departure gate. This year, while putting the scheduling jigsaw puzzle together, I actually blocked off Sunday as a date we could not compete.

I think the team appreciates my forethought, but I also know they now see we have more training days than normal. As a coach it feels good to get in training days without trying to balance guys cutting weight and allowing recovery before competing. In the end, I think some of the guys might wish they had a competition instead. Funny thing is some of the team will compete this weekend in Open competitions.

Our next home meet will be on Wednesday, February 8. We will compete against the United States Naval Academy at the RAC. The first whistle will be at 7pm.

Rumble on the River

One of the books I require the team to read is “Uncommon” by Tony Dungy. I think the book offers great advice for young men. It is a time in life when many of our guys are learning to make adult decisions. There are lots of potential pit falls in life. It can be difficult to do the right thing. I am often amazed at this time of the year when guys have to own up to some of the bad decisions made. Often, as humans, we try to hide our mistakes. We often convince ourselves no one will find out or rationalize ourselves into believing what we are doing is acceptable. With final exams just ending, the truths about the efforts made in the classroom are being revealed. My hope, for those who have not done what is required, is they will learn from the mistakes made and not repeat them in the future. I hope they have not made mistakes they won’t be able to overcome. One of the great things with being a coach is seeing guys make the needed changes to be successful in the classroom. This week I have met with guys on the team who have made positive changes. They have learned to show up to class on time, pay attention, and actively participate. They have learned to turn in assignments on time while meeting the requirements of the professor. Some have even seen the benefits of sitting in the front of the classroom, meeting with professors and working in study groups. Some have learned study hall and tutoring can be beneficial when they take advantage of the resources offered. It is a joy to see them succeeding.

For me, final exam time is stressful. I remember the effort it took when I was a student. I know as a head coach, my job performance is based upon the results of my athletes in the classroom. It is a time of the year, I hope the guys have prepared for and perform well when the chips are down. Sadly, some will learn the hard way, but I also celebrate those who have finished the semester well.

During exam week, we had no required practice. Nevertheless, I was pleased by the turn out at optional workouts. The guys worked hard. I believe their effort in their preparation was rewarded last night when we wrestled the University of Virginia at the Rumble at the River event in Richmond, VA. We lost 7 matches to 3, but our attitude and effort was at a much higher level than the last time we stepped on the mat to compete.

After the dual, I asked the guys what was different. We need to capture the effort level and be consistent with it throughout the season. We did some self-review and left the locker room a better team.

Consistency is a key to success. We need to be consistent in our training. We need to consistently make good decisions on and off the mat. We need to be consistent in the effort we put forth in competition.

The day before we wrestled UVA we finally were able to be together as a group. After our tough outing on December 9, I tried to not burden the team with working on mental skills due to final exams. I decided to wait until we were together as a group and the stress of final exams was behind them. I think I made the right decision. It gave me time to consult with others, do some self-review and try to do some learning on my own. Last weekend, I was on the road recruiting. I spent several hours in airports, on planes and sitting in a hotel room by myself. I was able to put the time to good use. I decided to read Coyte Cooper’s new book, “Make Your Mark.” Coyte’s words made me think, challenged me and also affirmed that I am doing many right things while leading this team. Some of the examples he used in the book are things I have shared with my team on many occasions. When we met as a team, I made sure to remind the team of the concepts, expectations, and road map to success contained within our team document the “Mason Way.” I also shared some of the insights offered by Coyte in “Make Your Mark.” My hope was to make sure the guys were on the correct path. Some were not, and I needed to try and steer them. We need to be on the right path headed in the right direction as a team. I had planned on having a 30 minute team meeting before practice. I was embarrassed when I looked at my clock and realized I had spoken for over an hour to the team. I guess I had more things to express to them than I had thought.

Guys are now headed home for a few days to be with family. After a semester of school and half of a college wrestling season, it is a good time for them to take a quick breath and spend time with their loved ones. The fun part of the season will be here soon enough. I can’t wait.

EWL Duals – Bloomsburg and Lock Haven + Upcoming Home Duals

We have split practices due to the size of our training facility. Although it makes thing a little tougher, it works. As coaches we meet on Monday mornings to do after action analysis of the prior week and plan for the coming week. I think this time together helps us do a better job of leading the team. Nevertheless, we need to be able to read the athletes and change plans as needed. Last week, we made our practice plans and had full intention on implementing them. At our first practice we followed the plan and I believe the group benefited from what we had them do. The second group came in and I started practice as I had done with the first group. I had them spend 15 minutes working on things they felt they needed after analyzing their performance at the Grapple at the Garden. Coaches went around helping as well as the wrestlers helping each other. After a few minutes I stood back to watch what was going on in the room. It was inspiring. Knowledge was flowing. The focus was as if they were wearing blinders and only saw the goal in front of them. The desire to learn and improve was palpable. After they had gone longer than I planned I said to Mark Weader, “I think I am going to scratch our training plan and just let them keep doing what they are doing.” He responded in a manner where I knew he agreed something special was happening in the room. I spent over an hour helping where I thought I could and mostly watching and feeling inspired by what I was witnessing. Finally someone made eye contact with me and I could see he was curious how much time he had left in the 15 minutes of free time to work. I stopped the group and told them, with a cracking voice full of emotion, we had made a huge leap forward as a program on November 29, 2016. As the head coach of a program, it was special to see. There was elite knowledge being shared in our wrestling room. There were athletes eager to learn and pass on knowledge to others. It was truly a championship driven wrestling room. It was a special day, a break thru day. Our preparation was near perfect.

We spent the weekend on the road at Bloomsburg and Lock Haven. I was pleased with the effort the guys put forth in their competition. They hustled and tried to score points.

Going into our dual with Bloomsburg, on paper it appeared to be a close dual. In our pre-match talk, I wanted to make sure the guys knew every team point would matter. I also wanted them to be thankful for the opportunity they had to compete. I asked them to compete for not only themselves but for their teammates who did not have the opportunity. Their teammates go through the same training, but can only show their hard work by showing how they have prepared the starters. The dual meet ended with 5 matches won for each team. We won the dual on bonus points. Matt Voss started the dual and won with a 3rd period pin. Our next two wrestlers lost, Quinton Tucker and Lio Quezada. I was pleased both fought to save team points. Lio wrestled on one leg due to an injury but still tried to fight for his team. Tejon Anthony and Sahid Kargbo were able to win their matches and get us back in the lead. Matt Raines lost by a decision and after 6 matches the team score was tied. We knew going into the match, Garrett Tingen was going to be in a crucial bout for the team. Garrett not only won, he pinned his opponent. His win was a big lift for our team. Patrick Davis and Daniel Mika both lost by decision. They were frustrated by their performance and hopefully learned some valuable lessons due to the competition. Once again, going into the last bout of the dual, the team score was tied. Matt Meadows had the weight of the dual on his shoulders. He was able to step up for the team and won by a pin. It was an exciting way to end the dual. 3 pins in the dual was the difference in the team score.

We had little time to rest, as we competed the following day at Lock Haven. I like to schedule a few back to back competitions so it mimics the NCAA tournament. I want the guys being comfortable with the uncomfortable situation of making weight and competing on back to back days. I felt the guys responded well. They wrestled a good pace against Lock Haven. It was good to see the effort they were willing to put out in the competition circle. Trevor Mello led off in the dual. Despite losing his match, he sent the right message to our opponents. He hustled for 7 minutes. Due to Lio’s injury, we had Quinton Tucker wrestle up a weight class against Lock Haven. He lost a close bout 7-6. He scored all 6 of his points in the third period. Tejon Anthony fell behind by quite a bit in the 1st period, but stayed even with his opponent the remainder of the bout. Although he lost, I think he learned and got better as a result. Sahid Kargbo worked hard to earn a major decision for his team. I believe he scored 3 takedowns in the third period alone. Matt Raines worked hard to ride his opponent in the 3rd period. As a result of his effort, he earned the victory. Garrett Tingen lost his match but certainly made many attempts to score points. Patrick Davis found a higher gear and made progress in his mental battles during competition. I could see it in his face, when he was competing and afterward, he had made a break through with his mindset. We lost the three remaining bouts, but I was pleased with the effort all three chose to compete with against Lock Haven. Daniel Mika and Matt Voss gave up too many points trying to score points for their team. I was pleased they were willing to take risks and push the pace. Next time out, I hope they are able to hold better position while trying to attack. Matt Meadows is still working to get his weight under control and getting used to being back in competition. The back to back weigh ins took their toll on him. Nevertheless, his effort and attitude were great this past week. As he continues to control the things within his control he will reap the rewards.

We will compete at home this Friday night December 9 in dual meets against North Dakota State and Maryland. I am glad we do not have to travel as this is a stressful week for the wrestlers. They have lots of assignments, papers and tests this week. The following week will be final exams. I am hopeful they attack their school work as they have been attacking their opponents.

I hope we have a large crowd at the RAC on Friday. North Dakota State will wrestle Maryland at 4pm. We will wrestle North Dakota State 10 minutes after their dual ends with Maryland (hopefully we will start our dual around 530pm). We will dual Maryland 10 minutes after our dual with NDSU ends (hopefully we will start our dual around 7pm).

Typically we have good fan support when we wrestle Maryland as our two schools are close to each other geographically. This year we have also added a new element to the rivalry by wrestling for a belt. The four local D1 schools (American, Maryland, Navy and us) will wrestle each other for a belt called the Battle of the Beltway. I am excited for the new tradition. The dual meet should also feature a great bout for college wrestling fans as two undefeated wrestlers Sahid Kargbo and Alfred Banister will most likely square off against each other. Banister is currently ranked between 8th and 13th in national wrestling polls. Both wrestlers are 9-0 on the season.

I am also excited to welcome NDSU to campus. The head coach of NDSU is Roger Kish. I was one of his college coaches, so it will be fun to see him again. I was also able to serve Roger’s coach at the Junior Pan American Championships in Venezuela while he was in college. He made me look good winning both the Freestyle and Greco-Roman titles. Another guy I coached in college serves as an assistant coach at NDSU – Matt Nagel. One of my most cherished memories as a college coach is when Matt Nagel became an All-American. I don’t know if he meant to do it or if I just got in his way as I was going to congratulate him, but he leaped in my arms and let me carry him off the competition circle. It is a very special memory for me and also something that still gives me motivation as a coach. Virginia fans will also know one of the other assistant coaches at NDSU. Jarrod Garnett was an All-American for Virginia Tech. Currently, NDSU has 3 ranked wrestlers in their starting line-up. Friday should be a great day for college wrestling and George Mason wrestling.

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.

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.

First Week Update

The team did well during the first week of official practice. I was pleased to see positive results from their pre-season training. We put them through a difficult week of training and they responded in a positive manner.

Friday we hosted a coach’s clinic. The clinic began with coaches watching our team practice. I liked the knowledge and effort the team showed in their training. Canaan Bethea, Mark Weader and Kevin Steinhaus all did a good job with their presentations and also took time to answer questions. I was bummed by the low turnout, but hopeful those who attended found their time well spent.

On Saturday, we hosted a wrestling clinic. Kevin Steinhaus ran the clinic and was assisted by our entire team. I enjoyed watching the clinic and the interaction between our team and those who attended the event. After the clinic, the team participated in a public practice. I was excited with the turn out. George Mason University invited Alums and Families to campus for the weekend. Having a public practice, fit well with the other events on campus. It was a good day for our program.

We will have about a month to train before we compete. Our first official competition will be on November 17 as we host Indiana University at the RAC. We will compete at the Navy Classic on November 19. On Sunday, November 27 we will compete at the Grapple at the Garden. We will wrestle Buffalo and Hofstra. For those that want to join us at Madison Square Garden in New York City, you can buy tickets in the Mason section via our ticket office. Contact the George Mason Ticket office at 703/993-3270 or icatix@gmu.edu.