Photo by ALLISON WOODLAND
Coming off of a successful season last year, the Alma College’s Wrestling team is looking to keep that same momentum as their new season came to a start on Wednesday, October 7, against Davenport University.
The team finished 17 out of 74 teams in the NCAA Division III Championship last season as well as graduating only one senior and welcoming in six new freshmen.
Wrestling Coach Jeremiah Tobias said, “As a team, we are pre-season ranked 15th. Brendan Ladd and Zachary Cooper are both ranked top 8.”
Their season finish and pre-season ranking helps set the tone and expectations for this upcoming 2019-2020 season. It helps the team outline and emphasize what steps they need to take to better themselves.
“Our conversation at the end of last year was about the process and what they need to be doing in the off season to have a better out come this year. There were many guys that came back in great shape and it was in a way like we didn’t skip a beat from last year to this year. The team this year is a little bigger, older and knows what the expectations are and how hard they will have to work in order to accomplish their goals,” said Tobias.
With these expectations and goals in mind, the team hopes to carry their hard work in the off season into their practices and matches. Preparation for this season began when their last season ended.
This includes preparation both physically and mentally.
Junior wrestler, Austin Popp (’21) said, “The team has prepared both mentally and physically in the preseason and the season so far. Pushing the pace in practice helps develop not only our physical stamina and strength, but also our mental fortitude.”
During the off-season, the wrestlers made sure to stay fit and healthy in order to be best prepared for when practices began and to be able to give maximum effort on and off the mat. This includes everything from weightlifting to eating healthy.
“A typical practice consists of: a discussion with the coaches, warm-up, drilling, “live” wrestling, conditioning, and a cool-down, followed by a 5 minute visualization time in which we visualize what went well and what we can improve on going into the next practice or competition,” said Popp.
This mentality and daily practice regime is all a part of the team’s necessary steps towards having a successful season. The hard work and effort they put into practice will reflect how they perform on the mat in a match.
With the goal being to score the highest amount of points or touch both of their opponent’s shoulder blades flat onto the mat for about one second.
“A typical match consists of 3 periods, the first being three minutes, and the second and third being two minutes each, with the possibility of overtime periods in the case of a tie score. There is a scoring system which rewards points to each wrestler in regards to the position they are in, and the position they end up in,” said Popp.
In Alma’s match against Davenport on Wednesday, the Scots put to work what they learned in their matches. This included two wrestlers winning by pin fall with one pin being the quickest match out of the competition at 56 seconds.
When it was time for the team to compete, they were not only relying on their work in the pre-season as well as the returners, but for the new wrestlers to step up and make a move.
Referring to the Davenport match on Wednesday, Coach Tobias said, “It is going to be a tough dual. We are looking for our young guys to step up and our older guys to wrestle like they know they are capable of.”
Just as Coach Tobias predicted, the Scots faced a tough dual against the Panthers, but fell just short in a 25-20 loss.
This was not the outcome the Scots wanted, but is merely the beginning of the season with much time and room to overcome their losses and challenges. The goal for the team still remains the same and unfazed.
“The goal is to be MIAA champions, Top 4 at Regionals and Top 10 at the NCAA tournament while increasing the number of all-Americans and academic all-Americans,” said Coach Tobias.