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Tofurky

Do Fans Underestimate What It Takes to Succeed In College Wrestling?

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I've long thought about this, specifically when I was coaching at a local community college. No doubt that most folks think their guys are the best, but do fans (and coaches) routinely over-assess talent when kids matriculate from high school college? Even for the guys who make the medal stand once, that seems to be a let down for a lot of folks. Why is that?

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People forget that someone has to lose... even if you have two kids that are equal, there will be one that loses. A lot of the talent out there, by and large, is of a similar potential level or compete at a similar level. On one day you could be an All-American and another day you could go 0-2. There are so many factors but fans like to focus on the glimmers of hope and if you have a good showing one day the fans will expect you to replicated each and every day or you'll be labeled a failure.

 

Wrestling has a very high bar...

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Most fans don't understand what happens in a DI wrestling environment.  Everyone that puts the proper(what this is, can be debated) time in, will make substantial gains.  Many "raw" wrestlers can benefit from this considerably more than the fully polished high school stud.

 

The most significant factors I noticed that could be both positives and negatives were:

 

1.)Schedule-Can you adjust to multiple practices, classes, study time and the FREEDOM you have to decide what you want to do without parents around to supervise.

 

2.)How does your mental makeup mesh with the Coaching, especially their philosophies.  How they train, practice and even have down time or, God forbid, fun may be very different than what you are used to.

 

3.)Who do you roll around with in a room?  Is there a coach near your weight that can give you significant 1on1 time?  Doug Schwab being at Iowa for Metcalf was as big of a help as I can remember a DI wrestler benefiting from in the recent past.  If you don't have that benefit, are you lucky enough to have a RTC with a postgrad at your weight to train with?  If not, do you already have an established guy at your weight? Etc.

 

4.)The above brings me to one of the most difficult parts.  Are you coming into a weight where someone has already staked a claim?  Is he on scholarship?  Is he an upper or lower classman?  Having to fight for your weight class can either bring the best out in you or drain you dry.

 

I can go on and on, but I think the above shows that there are SO VERY MANY things going on behind the scenes that fans may never see that substantially contribute to the overall performance of a DI wrestler.

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The answer to your question is maybe. I say this in that if you went through it or were very close to someone who did you the answer is of course yes but the vast majority of high school wrestlers will never step foot on a college mat so while they might have an idea in reality the answer is no. 

 

I met my wife in college and she saw what I went through and dreaded the day my kid started wrestling. She's lived with it for so long she's begun to hate it. 

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Agree MSU with all of the above.

 

I would also add....Have to be healthy.  D1(in my opinion, train too much) which leads to injuries.  Some injuries just not bad enough to keep a wrestler out of the lineup, but injured enough for people to say "man he does not look good, what happened to him...Lol"

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The vast majority of fans have no idea.  The intensity of the practice room compared to a HS room is night and day.  The grind of morning conditioning, class, afternoon practice, study, girlfriend, weight cutting makes it EXTREMELY tough.

The physical wear and tear is always present, and the fear that if you slack even a little someone will catch and pass you made me paranoid on top of it.

I was done after my junior year, due to injuries, and my parents were actually so relieved.  

 

I miss it, but I don't know that I could do it again.

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I ask because I think that fans seem to think that their guy is the next Kyle Dake, Cael Sanderson, Ed Ruth, etc. and that, as long as they remain healthy, making the tournament, let alone the stand, is an absolute if you've won a state title or two.

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One thing I can say with ABSOLUTE certainty is NOT ONE True Freshman is ready to win a DI NCAA Championship when he first steps into the practice room.  The first semester is a giant learning curve on and off the mat.  Adjusting to College life is paramount and I think that is why the dominant True Freshman seems to make a big leap the 2nd half of the season.

Edited by MSU158

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I have worked at the High school setting my entire adult life and I can guarantee that most parents have NO idea what it takes.  They think they do, and you can't explain, but they don't.

 

I also think a part that most of us don't talk about is the mental game.  I won't explain my thoughts well but; Some kids put so much into HS and prep getting there that they emotionally can't take the next step to be that D1 superstar.  Some obviously do, but it isn't just about being good and dedicated, it is your whole life, and some get to the point of needing to move on emotionally, or educationally.  Some are just that good and it doesn't matter.

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Also the mental difference between being the best in the room or maybe even the state in high school (everyone, even at duals, points you out, talks to you, etc) to being just another guy in the room.

 

Nobody cares yoy were state champ as soon as you set foot in a solid D1 program. It cold mean something, but usually it doesn't.

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I don't know anymore that what a lot of people are discussing is unique to Division I. While the overall depth doesn't exist at other levels as it does in DI, being a so-and-so in high school is old news. From NJCAA all the way up through DII, accolades are "neat" on your first day when everyone is first meeting each other and finding out your backgrounds, but when the rubber meets the road, it really boils down to who wants it most and who is willing to put in the sweat equity for the duration of the season. I can't begin to tell you how many talented guys we had come in the room that thought NJCAA was going to be a cake walk. Come mid-season, I would guess that almost half those guys who were "that guy" everyone talked about in high school, had quit the team, dropped out, became ineligible second semester or were flat out surpassed by less technical/talented guys who wanted it more and were willing to do everything and anything to take "that guy's" spot he took for granted. That wasn't limited to the team I worked with by any stretch of the imagination. The mental game in wrestling is sorely neglected by the majority of those involved in the sport.

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I don't know anymore that what a lot of people are discussing is unique to Division I. While the overall depth doesn't exist at other levels as it does in DI, being a so-and-so in high school is old news. From NJCAA all the way up through DII, accolades are "neat" on your first day when everyone is first meeting each other and finding out your backgrounds, but when the rubber meets the road, it really boils down to who wants it most and who is willing to put in the sweat equity for the duration of the season. I can't begin to tell you how many talented guys we had come in the room that thought NJCAA was going to be a cake walk. Come mid-season, I would guess that almost half those guys who were "that guy" everyone talked about in high school, had quit the team, dropped out, became ineligible second semester or were flat out surpassed by less technical/talented guys who wanted it more and were willing to do everything and anything to take "that guy's" spot he took for granted. That wasn't limited to the team I worked with by any stretch of the imagination. The mental game in wrestling is sorely neglected by the majority of those involved in the sport.

 

Could this be in part because we often hire good wrestlers to coach instead of hiring good coaches?

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No one who isn't currently in the belly of the beast of a college season has any clue what it's like.  Even being out of it for a couple years you start to forget.  I try to give the guys I send to d1 schools an idea of what their life will be like, and there really isn't anyway to describe it adequately.

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