We Won?

We Won?

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On February 25, the Mount Union wrestling team finished second place in the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament. We had six finalists, five of them winning their finals match to advance to the NCAA Division III National Championships, and we had two guys place third as well. Second place isn’t what we wanted as a team, until our coaches re-counted the team points from the tournament and discovered that we actually won by one point. No matter what sport it is, one point is always very close.

It was hard to believe we didn’t win when we had five out of 10 weight classes winning the tournament. I didn’t wrestle personally but I was still there supporting my teammates as an athletic training student. I had the choice of attending the event on Saturday with my other teammates who didn’t wrestle and just watch, or the choice to serve as an athletic training student and leave on Friday with the team and have food and a hotel paid for. I decided to work as a student and get some experience while I was at it. It was well worth it since I was always mat side for each match.

It was an exciting tournament for sure. Next year, one of my goals is to win it and defend the tournament title. It’s a big thing to do since our team is young next year, but I know we can do it. I just hope they don’t mess up the scores again. I’d rather not celebrate thinking we won, then finding out the next day we lost because that would be a bad feeling.

Spring Break Plans

Spring Break Plans

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I’ve never done anything really exciting for spring break. I visited my family in Portland one year but that was about it. This spring is probably the first spring break where I don’t know what I am going to do. I have the chance to go to Florida, home or I can just stay at Mount Union.

If I go to Florida, I’m obviously going to have a good time with my friends, have an actual warm spring break and I’ll get to relax. That doesn’t sound bad at all. The main problem is money because I never really have a lot of that green stuff.

If I go home, it will be snowing like it did last spring break, so that’s no fun. I may go sledding if there is enough snow though. You can never be too old for sledding. I won’t do anything productive other than catching up on movies that I’ve been waiting to watch.

If I stay at school, I’ll be helping the guys who may make it to the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships. My goal is to represent Mount Union one day at that national tournament, and I know if I was training for it, I’d want good drill partners, which is what I want to do for my teammates now. I’d also work as a student ambassador, so I’d be making money and staying healthy.

Most people will be going home over spring break, maybe even on vacation with their friends, but this spring break, I’m most likely going to be doing something productive for the first time ever.

Final Stretch of the Season

Final Stretch of the Season

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It is almost the end of the wrestling season for me. Although it started over four months ago, this season went by fast. It’s always a bad and good thing when the season ends as I don’t get to do the sport I love and I don’t work out as much, but then again I get to rest my body and I get to eat whatever I want now.

I’ve had a good season personally. I’ve wrestled a variety of wrestlers everyone from novice wrestlers to a NCAA Division III National Champion. My record might not show that I’ve improved since freshman year, but the competition I’ve wrestled was tougher than last year, and I beat guys this year I probably wouldn’t have beat last year.

I am most likely done with my competition for the year, but I will continue practicing with the varsity wrestlers since they still have the OAC Tournament and possibly the NCAA Division III National Tournament. Practicing with them not only makes them better, but also me as well. I hope that when I am on varsity, I will have teammates that will still practice although their season may be done.

I am nearly half way done with my college wrestling career, which feels weird since it seems like it just began. My ultimate goal by the end of college is to become an All-American/National Champion. It’s a goal that I thought seemed unrealistic in high school, but now I know I can do it.

The season is almost over, and where one ends, another one starts. Baseball is officially practicing and I am one of the athletic training students for the team, so we’ll see how the season goes.

Embrace It

Embrace It

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I have numerous scars on my hand and face from wrestling. Most are small, but some will always be visible. People sometimes ask me if it hurts. Well, yeah it hurts! Individuals sometimes ask me “Why would you purposely do something that hurts you?” I don’t wrestle to get hurt, I wrestle to simply win. Hurting our opponents is just part of the game.

Wrestling is like any other contact sport; you are going to get hurt nearly every day of practice. I get scratched, head-butted, slammed, fingers mangled and twisted, slapped, my eye gets poked and basically any other possible way of being hit. I don’t wrestle to get hurt because that would be no fun at all. Getting hurt is just part of the sport … it is just in the way of my goal in the end. I embrace the pain though, because without it, the goal I plan to reach in the end won’t seem as earned.

“I hate this class. This work is stupid!” I hear this once in awhile from others and myself. Classes aren’t meant to be stupid as they are meant to benefit you in the end. I really don’t like math, but it is a class I must take, so I might as well embrace it.

College altogether is tough. It isn’t meant for people who aren’t willing to put in the time, but for those who do, there’s a degree in the end that they have rightfully earned.

Remembering Dan

Remembering Dan

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It has been almost a year since Dan Gorman has passed away. He was my professor, advisor, athletic trainer and my friend. I knew him for only one semester, which was the first semester of college for me, but the impact he made will last my whole life. This is my story in a nutshell.

We had a dual wrestling meet against Ohio Northern University, and I had an exhibition match. I don’t like to lose and I especially don’t like to lose when we have to travel.

“Are you wrestling?” Dan asked hoping that I was.

“Yeah.” I was happy to tell him yes, but confused because professors usually don’t care to see their students compete.

“Great, I get to see you wrestle.” He said this as he hobbled around because he had a drop foot. The short time I knew him, there was always something physically wrong with him, which gave him character.

It was a close match, but I won. After the varsity dual meet, we had a snowy drive back to Mount Union. We were driving for about an hour until I felt the bus jerk and I saw a massive hole in the front left of the bus. I didn’t know the severity of the situation but I knew that we had to call 911 for Dan. It wasn’t until I walked off the bus and saw the aftermath of the seat Dan was sitting in before I knew how bad it was.

The whole team was transported to the hospital. I thought Dan would be OK. I knew he was hurt but I wasn’t sure how badly. After waiting a decent amount of time, our coach told us the news. I cried, but I eventually stopped hoping I would never have to think about it again. We stayed the night at a local hotel. I fell asleep immediately once we got there because it was late, but when I woke up to check the time, I couldn’t go back to sleep because of everything running through my head that happened the night before. I slept like this for the next two weeks, the same haunting images running through my head before I went to sleep and when I woke up.

I didn’t want to think about it anymore, but it was impossible since we hadn’t even gotten back to school yet. When we traveled back there were people waiting for us at The MAAC including the rest of the team, athletic trainers, students, Dan’s family and others. I wasn’t expecting this and I didn’t want them there simply because I didn’t want to think about it anymore. Mourning is something nobody wants to do, but it is necessary. I didn’t realize this at the time. I thought I could get over Dan’s death within a day. I mean, I’m able to lose a wrestling match and get over it, why can’t I do it with this? Well these are two completely different situations.

I thought I was done mourning … well, I was wrong. I’d explain the story to two of my friends and I broke down while trying to tell them what happened. At the time, I was embarrassed but now I realize it was appropriate for the situation.

Throughout the week, I continued to go to class. I wanted to get over it, and if I was ever alone, I would do too much thinking. There was an athletic training meeting where we basically talked about what we had experienced. I realized that I was one of two athletic training students on the bus when it happened. I know I wasn’t the only one to experience this, but I felt like nobody experienced it like I did. In reality, everyone experienced it differently. Everyone has their own story.

Dan passed on a Tuesday. We had a wrestling dual meet on Saturday and a tournament on Sunday, both of which were home at Mount Union. On Saturday after the dual meet, we went as a team to Dan’s wake in Dewald Chapel. It was a two-hour wait until I saw Dan’s family, and it was the first time I saw Dan since I saw him being transported into the ambulance. I immediately lost it again, but a few of my teammates and coaches were there for me. I always felt alone, but I was constantly reminded that everyone was going through the same thing I was.

Dan’s funeral was on Sunday in The MAAC, which was the same place and same time as the tournament. I had wrestled two matches before the service even started. It was an hour-long and I barely shed a tear simply because I was holding it back. Everyone who spoke had a very emotional speech, but I was ready to get it over with and wrestle. The tournament was put on hold because of the funeral service and immediately after the service, I changed as quickly as I could because I was the first match to wrestle.

The whistle blew and I started wrestling like any other match, then it all hit me at once. It was as if you shook up a soda and opened it and watched it explode. Everything that happened throughout the week came back into my mind and I started crying while wrestling. I wrestled terrible, but I made it through the match and afterwards I immediately hugged my friend Kelsey. I was out of the tournament, but that didn’t matter, I missed Dan.

A month after all of this happened, I saw a counselor at school because I still didn’t feel right. She helped me a lot and after only two visits, I felt like my old self. I thought about everything that happened everyday until about mid-summer. I didn’t like the thought of losing someone I care about. I have become more grateful and appreciative for every friend I have.

This is my story in a nutshell. Dan cared for everyone so deeply. He truly was a genuinely good man and I hope to be like him one day.

Halloween Work Out

Halloween Work Out

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www.hawaldwrestling.com
The video is of our work out.  Enjoy =D

Halloween is a time for trick-or-treating, not for wrestling. There is no break in wrestling, but there is time to joke around.  Every year the wrestling team has a Halloween work out. After a long and difficult hell week, we still have time to dress up and have a good time. But in all seriousness, we still got a good work out in too.

The practice consisted of pictures and being judged by the indoor track team. The categories we were judged in were overall best costume and best group costumes.

We then ran around campus and in all the academic buildings to show ourselves to Mount Union’s faculty and staff members to brighten their day. They definitely appreciated seeing everyone in ridiculous costumes. This year’s costumes consisted of Sasquatch, Wayne’s World, White Chicks, The Village People, marching band leader and a sexy female nurse. I was Jacob Black from Twilight, and even our coaches were a bunny and a black cat.

After all the judging and running, we eventually would run our way to Gulling and do a circuit lift. The baseball team was ending their work out in there and they just had to put a smile on their faces. Usually people would say this is just crazy, but everyone gets a good laugh out of it.

If you would like to see more pictures, check out the Purple Raider Wrestling page on Facebook.

What’s the purpose of this?  Our coach likes to have a good time just like any other person, but he takes things seriously too. We are trying to be the best. How can you be the best if you can’t laugh at yourself once in awhile? It’s a perfect balance and it shows that we can still be the best and have a good time.

Trick-or-Treat with the Raiders

Trick-or-Treat with the Raiders

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Once you’re in college, most people would agree you are too old to trick-or-treat. I disapprove that thought, but none of my friends want to go trick-or-treating anymore so what did I do instead? I helped hand out candy to kids with the wrestling team and the rest of the athletic teams on campus in the Peterson Field House during Trick-or-Treat with the Raiders.

This was the first year this event was held and I’d say it was a success. All of the sports team were dressed in their jerseys, game wear and even singlets, and each team had their own station. The kids couldn’t simply just say trick-or-treat for candy, they had to earn it.

The children could kick a soccer ball, shoot a basketball, hit a baseball, bump a volleyball, swing at a golf ball or complete an obstacle course to get their piece of candy. Every kid there was enthusiastic and stubborn toward getting their candy, nothing was going to stop them! For wrestling, we had an obstacle course where kids had to scoot, hop, run with weights as big as them, army crawl and then hit a giant muscle beast as hard as they can. All of this effort was for a piece of candy.

For a college student, all the work doesn’t sound worth it, but for the kids it is. That was the point of this event, to make kids happy by getting candy from their athletic role models. It really did make me laugh seeing kids in their costumes struggling to hold and run with a weight and getting to hit someone with a ball. It was also interesting seeing my professors and other coaches with their kids. It was a reality check that professors aren’t just professors, they are parents that love to dress their kids in embarrassing costumes and watch them eat candy.

If this event is held again, I am definitely going to do it. I might even dress up to scare the kids just a little. If you’re an athlete and you didn’t help out this year, I recommend doing it next year. It’s nice to get away from all the studying and interact with kids once in awhile.

Hell Week

Hell Week

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Wrestling is a sport that demands every aspect of athleticism, from pure strength to the most refine technique.  It was the first sport ever, and the purpose of it back in the day was to literally kill your opponent while competing naked in oil. Today there is a different reason why it is popular and for me, it is an addiction. I can’t quit because I need it to function normally, but at the same time, I can get so tired I question myself “Why am I doing this to myself?”

Hell Week is what it sounds like … hell! Football has two-a-days, but our coach went one step further and is doing three-a-days. One practice at a time isn’t bad, but it is the continuous practicing three times a day for five days of the week that will get to you.

This week consist of 6 a.m. cardio/sprinting for about 45 minutes. During this time, the sun isn’t even out yet and you can see the stars, Jupiter and shooting stars. After class and maybe a few naps, we have 4 p.m. practice for two hours in a constant 80 degree wrestling room. This consists of drilling, live wrestling and you guessed it, more sprints, which can easily be added on for people who are late, not wearing their headgear and other various reasons. It’s pretty simple, if everyone does what they are supposed to do and not what they aren’t supposed to do, then no sprints.  That’s never the case, so we run more.

After dinner, there is a little over an hour that I am able to get homework and studying done until an 8 p.m. lift.  These lifts aren’t meant for the weak, they’re meant for the insane. I mean, 3-4 sets of anywhere between 1-20 reps, and why not, let’s just throw in 100 pull ups in the middle of the lift to add a little flavor. By the end of the day, you’re ready to pass out and just enjoy your sweet dreams…until they are disrupted by your alarm telling you to wake up to go run.

This week sounds bad, because it is.  But in the end, you feel like you’ve accomplished something the average athlete would never want to do.  It is obviously a little harder since you have to worry about studying, homework and tests, but that’s just a part of being a student-athlete.

I have respect for all college student-athletes. Everyone puts in their effort because everyone wants to be the best. I still keep hearing from athletes that they think wrestlers are crazy and they could never do it. I always thank them for that compliment (yes, being called crazy is a compliment sometimes) because you have to be a little crazy if you want to be a good wrestler.

Hell Week is an animal that chews on you.  It is an animal that swallows the weak but spits out the strong at the end of the week, and if you are able to withstand it then you are able to withstand any other challenge put in front of you. After just one week, you’re more conditioned, stronger, smarter and you know your physical and mental limits.  And there is a reason why Hell Week is at the end of October … Halloween Work-Out.