The John Carroll University wrestling team is heading into the Ohio Athletic Conference Wrestling Championships with momentum on their side. Their win over Heidelberg University on Feb. 18 at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center gave them a huge victory over the five-time defending conference champion, and increased their winning streak to three matches.
“Momentum never hurts your team at this time of the season,” said head coach Kerry Volkmann. “Beating the defending conference champs last Friday should be a big boost for our guys. We wrestled aggressively and with a lot of physicality. We are pretty young at several spots in the lineup and it’s good to see them continuing to improve week by week.”
The part of the season that coach Volkmann is referencing is tournament time, and it all gets underway this weekend.
The OAC Wrestling Championships begin on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 10 a.m. at Ohio Northern University.
Last year, the Blue Streaks finished fourth in the OAC Championships, which were hosted by the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio. However, this year the Blue Streaks are aiming to improve upon last year’s fourth place finish, and they have the confidence to do so as they finished the season by winning their last three meets, all against conference opponents.
“The momentum we’re taking into OACs is very important because this is the only tournament of the year that matters,” said redshirt sophomore Bryan Steinmetz, who was second on the team with 16 wins this season. “We have a super young team and the entire season up until now was just about preparing us to do our best when it counts.”
What counts is the last impression you leave.
“Looking back in a few years, no one will talk about 90 percent of the season, just what happened at OACs and Nationals,” Steinmetz said.
The Blue Streaks finished the season with an overall meet record of six wins and six losses, including a record of three wins and three losses in conference. The fact that they ended the season by winning three consecutive meets is impressive, but knowing that all three of those wins came against conference opponents gives the Blue Streaks team tons of confidence heading into the most important weekend of the year for wrestlers in the conference.
“As a team it’s great that we are coming together strong at the end of the year,” said junior Greg Ryan, who finished with an overall record of 14-10. “We just need to keep it rolling into the tournament.”
The common misconception with wrestling is that it’s an individual sport. However, wrestling is just as much of a team sport as any other.
In order for the Blue Streaks to collectively come together for an impressive finish this weekend, each individual on the team must do their job.
From there, each individual effort can collectively equate to a first place finish for the Blue Streaks.
“I need to focus on the little things and approach every situation with the mentality of ‘one position at a time,’” said Steinmetz. “If I do that, I should be able to put together a tough day of wrestling [for my opponents].”
Ryan echoed those sentiments.
“I need to keep working hard and get the most out of this last week of practice as I can and just go out there and wrestle and not hold anything back,” he said.
Editor’s Note: Fans can follow the action at the Ohio Athletic Conference Championships by visiting www.jcusports.com or checking www.oac.org.