Success is best judged when you can compare your team from one year to the next with similar competition. In other words, success is partly relative.
In their final contest of the 2017 calendar year, the Case Western Reserve University wrestling team competed in the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Invitational in Rochester, New York.
“Last year we finished dead last, and this year we finished ninth,” said Head Coach Daniel Song. “Last year we scored 16 points as a team, this year we scored [44.5]. So we’re making progress.”
The Spartans also had four wrestlers place in the top six of the tournament; last year they had none. Song added that he liked the improvement from last year but they still aren’t where they ultimately want to be.
All four wrestlers that placed in the top six finished in sixth place: second-year returners Alec Hoover (125 pounds) and Jacob Frisch (133), first-year rookie Michael Hughes (197) and fifth-year veteran Nate Lewis (285).
The standout performance of the day went to Lewis.
He took two years away from wrestling to instead focus on football, the other sport he plays at the varsity level. He decided to return to the mat this year and is still able to compete at a high level. On the day, he pinned three out of his seven opponents and added a win by major decision, contributing a team-high 14 points to the team’s score.
Others scoring points for the team but not placing were second-year returners Andrew Hoover (141), Michael Peterson (149) and Isaac Collier (157), first-year rookie Brian Kent (174), fourth-year veteran Nate Tommas (184) and third-year veterans Gavin Dersh-Fisher (197) and Brian McNamara (285).
The meet was an invitational style tournament compared to a two-team dual, which leads to a different approach.
“In a dual I believe momentum is real… whereas a tournament I tell my guys just worry about yourself,” said Song. “I don’t even want you cheering for your teammates if it’s going to distract you from getting ready to compete.”
The Spartans’ next action doesn’t come until 2018 when they travel to Waynesburg, Pennsylvania on Jan. 6 for the Waynesburg Invite.
“I’m happy with how Saturday went, both as an individual and as a team,” stated Alec Hoover. “It was a long, hard day. We wrestled well, winning some tough matches, and we figured out some things that we need to work on for next time.”
Even though they both placed sixth, Frisch had a slightly different view of the day.
He said, “I feel like I performed well but I could have done better. I feel like I could have won my consolation semi-final and my [fifth] place match.”
The team will finish organized practice when finals begin, and will pick up again on Jan. 1. Until then, most of the team will go home but will still practice and workout individually.
“The main thing is having a chance to focus on academics without the stresses of competition,” said Song.