By Ryan Touhey
The Sacred Heart University wrestling team is determined to have some wrestlers pack their bags for St. Louis in March and compete at the Division I National Championships.
That objective, though, has several obstacles blocking its entrance. Among them are Sacred Heart’s ongoing final dual-meets this season, which are all on the road. One of those meets was on Feb. 4 at Bucknell University.
Bucknell is the site of another obstacle awaiting Sacred Heart, the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships, which will be held on March 3 and 4.
“We definitely have some guys who have the potential to put on a good show at the EIWA Conference Tournament, and qualify for the National Tournament,” said assistant coach Derek Moore.
The team won’t learn new techniques as much with the season closing. Rather, Moore and head coach Andy Lausier, will focus more on a different strategy to get their wrestlers prepared for the tournament. They will act as sources of inspiration and guidance for their wrestlers, in order to help them achieve their personal goals during the postseason.
Moore reflected on the 1,100-mile bike trip that Lausier took to St. Louis earlier this season, as an example of influencing the team. He remembered how driven the wrestlers were by Lausier, and how they gained a new amount of respect for him as a coach.
“When it comes to the matches, it’s just reminding the guys to go out there and compete hard,” said Moore. “We’ll give them advice, with different ways of doing it. They choose what works well for them, and then they implement and execute.”
Captain and senior Casey Mitchell, also gives his all to motivate his teammates during this time of year. Being captain since his sophomore year, Mitchell takes pride in leading by example, rather than relying on talking.
“I like to know that when somebody is looking around the room they can see me, see I’m working hard and kind of setting the example both inside and outside of the room,” said Mitchell. “Whether that’s at a lift, at wrestling practice, academically, anything like that.”
Mitchell is anxious for the EIWA, and is pulling for his teammates to place higher for the National Championships. He hopes that the training will enable his teammates to build off of each other’s energy and enthusiasm. That way, they can get closer together as a team.
The Pioneers next meet will be Saturday, Feb. 11 at Brown University at 1 p.m.
Redshirt junior Elliot Antler makes sure that the process goes smoothly for everyone.
“Just showing them that you’re there supporting them, and you’re behind them and want success for them too. And as they succeed, the team succeeds,” said Antler.