Oregon State wrestling makes final preparations before NCAAs
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013 04:03
Last year, Oregon State finished 10th at the NCAA Tournament. Ranked No. 9 heading into the tournament this year, the biggest difference for the Beavers isn’t the personnel on the team or improved wrestling — it’s the mindset.
This year, OSU is focused on entering the tournament with the goal of winning the whole thing. While nerves typically play a large role in wrestling on the national stage, Oregon State is ready.
“You can’t have a lot of anxiety, you have to be looking forward to it,” said head coach Jim Zalesky. “You can’t worry about anything
else. I think a lot of guys are looking forward to the tournament next week.”
Oregon State is sending seven wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament — five of which are seeded in the top 10 — which starts Thursday in St. Louis.
Seniors Mike Mangrum, (No. 3 141-pounder), and Chad Hanke, (No. 4 heavyweight), headline an OSU team that expects to place in the top 10 for the second consecutive year — the first time OSU has done so since the 1995-96 season.
Fifth-seeded (197-pounds) Taylor Meeks, seven-seeded (149-pounds) Scott Sakaguchi, 10th-seeded (157-pounds) RJ Pena, (174-pounds) Cody Weishoff and 184-pound Ty Vinson make up the remaining Beavers headed to St. Louis.
To do so, the Beavers have trained harder than they have all season in preparation. While the team hasn’t wrestled in competition since Feb. 17, there hasn’t been much time off.
“It hasn’t been two weeks off for us,” Mangrum said. “We’ve been training nonstop for this tournament. It’s not like the coaches are making us do it, we’re putting in the extra time and making sure we’re ready for this tournament.”
During the extra practice time, the Beavers have been honing the mental toughness that could catapult them further up the standings. With the tournament less than a week away, and the bracket released, Oregon State plans on taking things one match at a time.
“Brackets came out so you know who you have, so we’re just mentally getting ready for that first match,” Zalesky said. “We’re using the last little bit of time to sharpen up, make sure we’re feeling our best, making sure we’re doing all the right things.”
“All the right things” includes being in top physical shape. If OSU is in top physical condition, the mental aspects will all fall into place.
“If I know that I’ve trained hard then going into a tournament is going to make it easier for me to be mentally prepared,” Mangrum said. “The physical aspect really helps out my mental aspect to the whole thing.”
Third-seeded Mangrum and fourth-seeded Hanke, in particular, have realistic shots at national titles. Having both wrestled at the NCAA Tournament before, coming out with aggression is something both plan to utilize.
“This is the highest I’ve been ranked since I’ve been to nationals and I’m excited,” Mangrum said. “I’m excited to go to nationals this year, where the last couple years I’ve always been nervous. This year I feel ready, I feel excited.”
Andrew Kilstrom, sports editor