SEASON 5, COLUMN 19: USA TAKES AIM AT A WORLD TEAM TITLE OR TWO; 10 QUES-TIONS FOR ANDY LAUSIER & DAVID-SON; ALL OVER- LOOKED & UNDER-RATED TEAM,149 & 125; & SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON

The amazing 2021 ìnternational run for Team USA continues through Octobers second weekend in Oslo, Norway. The World Championships are well underway and Team USA is hotter than a pepper sprout, again. The Red, White and Blue sent 4 wrestlers into competition on Day 1 with Mens Freestyle leading off. Three made the Gold Medal Match in their weight classes and the fourth ended up grappling for a Bronze. On the second day it was much the same, with three out of four making the semis. There’s wall to wall watching available at the FloWrestling site every day and excellent coverage from Intermat and of course USA Wrestling. This column will publish a summary of what looks like a big tasty topping on Team USAs year following the events conclusion.

10 QUESTIONS FOR ANDY LAUSIER AND DAVIDSON

•1. You and your staff achieved an unmatched success with this seasons roster size. Please speak to its quality, quantity and overall significance.

•”The growth of our roster is absolutely critical to our overall success. With the largest roster in program history we have achieved appropriate weight class distribution that improves training and competitive depth. Most importantly this roster is led by seniors (who were my first recruiting class) Kyle Gorant, Erik Eva, Finlay Holston, Lachlan Rosato, Evan Clark and Mitchell Trigg. The retention of these athletes is perhaps more important than any other program factor, because these men provide unmatched leadership. We have marched a tough journey together over the past four seasons but along the way our commitment to each other has evolved into something really special. As a result we have all raised the standard in respect to Davidson wrestling.”

•2. Staff cohesion is supremely important in wrestling. You guided yours towards unit success and team goals, and now have the challenge of resetting it. How will you accomplish this?

•”Chemistry among the staff is a non-negotiable priority. Our ambition, trust, investment and passion need to pave the way for our wrestlers in every interaction we have with our team. When putting together a staff I put a strong emphasis on compatibility both on and off the mat. Then, I trust my gut. If our staff generates the right rythym then our team will find their cadence for success. Lastly, I run at a pretty hot pace and I’m totally immune to discouragement-so our staff must lean into the hard times with a grin on our faces!”

•3. What makes you smile the most about Davidson wrestling, and why?

•”Easy answer-the people! I am so driven to improve and be innovative in an effort to be the best leader for the team. Whether it’s our student-athletes, our administration, our support staff, our alumni or our parents, we are all deeply invested in advancing this program to national relevancy. Our people put their spirit and soul into this program.”

•4. Tell us what makes your best wrestler(s) just that, who will suprise us, and one secret that makes Davidson special.

•”[It’s] the key pivot that takes place for our wrestlers during their career at Davidson. It’s the transition from engaging in the sport of wrestling to engaging in the lifestyle of a championship wrestler. This is a massive demand and it throws young men way outside their comfort zones. However, there is a deep earned trust within the team, so what was once my standard has evolved into the standard of our athletes. At the end of the day I am surrounded by approximately 35 people who have a crazy appetite for excellence.”

•5. What goals are you closest to in year five and and which ones are you reaching most towards for years six through ten?

•”We have checked and exceeded many of the competitive benchmarks that were critical for us to reach this next stage of growth. Rebuilding a team is a long haul process. A goal such as the retention of my first recruiting class is so much more important than is often understood. It’s a critical part of the process that allows us to target higher-level competitive goals. The immediate competitive goals are to generate SoCon champions each year and elevate this team into the top three in this conference. As most people know the SoCon is rapidly improving, and the top three teams are really, really good-so we know where we need to close the gap. By the end of the next five years we will be in a position to challenge for a Southern Conference Championship.”

•6. Talk about the importance of your teams return to the Southern Scuffle.

•”This is a competitive platform where career-changing breakthroughs are earned. So often, a wrestler needs self validation to hit the highest level. The Southern Scuffle gives our wrestlers the opportunity to achieve that coveted “aha” moment, when they realize they can wrestle with anyone…and beat anyone. Lastly, it’s a great opportunity to climb the Coaches rankings, RPI Rankings and ultimately earn a qualification spot for the conference.”

•7. Besides more wins, more tournament placings and more national qualifiers, what are the metrics that will define success for Davidson this year?

•”The wins, tournaments placings and national qualifiers will always be the product of the way we run our business. So much goes on below the surface that ultimately paves the way for our success on the mat. We have critical markers in fundraising, recruiting, a major facility project, and our programs Centennial Celebration this year. Wins in these categories will serve as catalysts for wins in the on-the-mat categories.”

•8. Describe the pride, as you’re seen it, that your athletes have in being Wildcats.

•”The best way I can describe it is to share our teams mission statement…”

As wrestlers and members of the Davidson wrestling community we believe that the skills and values we learn on the mat will translate to our lives outside of wrestling. Chief among these values is our willingness and ability to embrace discomfort and grow, learn and fight as a family. We do this not despite our differences but because of them. We consider each individual difference an opportunity to learn and grow because we, as wrestlers, are different. We strive to honor our commitment to this code with the same level of discipline that we would apply to our wrestling. Meaning it happens both publicly and privately-behind closed doors and in the spotlight-and does not waver regardless of someones race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political background or class status.

•”This was developed by our wrestlers last year-they came together as a group and defined what it means to be a Davidson wrestler. I believe this statement is so powerful because it illustrates the depth of our investment, showcases our commitment to integrity, and reaffirms that we believe in building great men.”

•9. Where do you send your visitors for good food?

•”OK, so now the important stuff! After four years I am a great visitors guide.

Ice cream: Whits. The best I’ve ever had. BBQ: The Crazy Pig. Breakfast: Toast Cafe’. Waterfront: North Harbor Club. Coffee: Summit. Dinner: Flat Iron.”

•10. Last words, your words-Why Davidson?

•”We manufacture excellence here-and we do it together, as a family!”

•THANK YOU, Coach Lausier, and you can find more Davidson news and notes in this, Season Five of Hand Raised, Columns 5, 16 and 18.

ALL OVERLOOKED AND UNDERRATED TEAM, 149LBS: ANTHONY ARTALONA, PENN

Putting the Penn star on this squad was like scouring the Thousand Acre Wood for something sweet and finding a big ole jar of honey on your walk home. Pooh, or a similar descriptive, is the only way to explain the #22 preseason ranking for the Quaker junior who rocked the wrestling world as a true freshman in 2019. Artalonas best chances to move up could come with another big early season Tournament showing or three. That’s right in his wheelhouse. He’s five for five in showing up and showing out in those. His WORST Tournament performance, career-wise? 2-2 and 1 match away from AA at the NCAAs as a freshman. Scheduled challenges? Well, Junior World Bronze Medalist Beau Bartlett is probably Penn States 149lb starter when the Nittany Lions Host the Quakers. All American Johnathan Millner and Appalachian State are coming to Penn’s own Keystone Classic. Potential Artalona opponents at the Journeyman the week previous could include E.I.W.A. champ P.J. Ogunsanya of Army, tough Fresno St. transfer Greg Gaxiola of Hofstra, and Cory Crooks of Oregon St., late of ASU. Maybe on that as Crooks was Top 25 ranked for the Beavers in September but not listed on their latest roster. You can usually count on a half-dozen Top 20 possible matchups at the Ken Kraft Midlands. As of the first weekend of October, though, multiple Top 20 teams are “Bye Felisha” to the 58th annual event and this author is not sure why. The only guaranteed top 10 matchup for Artalona is a doozie, though. He’s scheduled to see two time National Champ and U.S. World Team member Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell in an Ivy League showdown throwdown in February. By then it will be clear that Artalona was WAY low on the preseason totem pole and that the E.I.W.A. is coming for two, or three, spots on the NCAA podium. There, that’s a 50% acronym bonus sentence at no extra charge.

ALL OVERLOOKED AND UNDERRATED TEAM, 125 LBS:

KORBIN MEINK, CAMPBELL

Name rings a bell, doesn’t it? It should. Meink has been Campbells brightest lightweight light since All American Nathan Kraisser in 2017. He was just in dimmer mode last year, redshirting the Covid 19 season as NC St. transfer Zurich Storm made the SoCon finals for Campbell as a fill in. Meinks more than ready to resume his multi-SoCon Title career run and cap it with a Kraisser-like showing at the NCAAs. Not basing this pick on similarities, though, but rather results. Meinks placed at multiple tournaments every year hes repped the Orange and Black. Fifth at the Navy Classic, fourth at the Scuffle and the Southeast Open, a Reno Tournament of Champions title, and three out of three SoCon Finals with two Golds. The challenges are lined up with a half dozen matches scheduled with Top 33 foes plus the WolfPack Open and either the Midlands or the Scuffle. Both events are listed on Campbell’s schedule but if form holds expect the Camel starters, Meink included, to head North and face the Midlands field. You can also expect Meink to bust way past his 20 wins a season average and help set the stage for a hell of a three man round robin for the 125lb (3) SoCon title. Defending champ Codi Russell of App State and column fav Fabian Gutierrez [@Faybeein_g] of UTC aren’t going anywhere. Going to be fun!

SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON

The Southern Scuffle snagged another blue blood as Coleman Scotts North Carolina Tar Heels head South and West for their turn of the season tournament this year. National Champ Austin O’Connor and All American Zach Sherman lead a team loaded with NCAA Qualifiers as UNC butts heads with the big boyz on their charge to top-level tournament, conference and National status. Butting heads with a Ram is generally a losing proposition.

Northern Colorado again makes their Scuffle run from beautiful Greeley (1) to the banks of the Tennessee River. The Bears of Troy Nickerson should be hunting a new Twitter handle. Hibernations been over for them for a few years and they’re rolling in full Hyperphagia mode pretty much all season, every season. Look for a detailed Northern Colorado preview in a later column. Beware these Bears in more than pairs climbing podium stairs most everywhere. (2)

The Mid American Conference continues to strengthen its Scuffle presence. The Rider Broncs will bring their Jerzey-tough big school quality, small school style to the Scenic City this year. Coach John Hangey is in year five at the top spot but his Rider roots run decades deep as an All American alumni and assistant to the legendary Gary Taylor. Get up on the Broncs with the Barbarian Hour Podcast Episode 43 featuring Coach Hangey spitting truths, Jerzey style. Rider brings four wrestlers in the preseason rankings to Chattanooga. If you like tough wrestling, don’t miss them. Don’t miss their pre-Scuffle profile coming soon to a column hopefully near you.

UTC would like you to know that Mocs Giving Day is October 5th. It’s a great way to support UTC and, if it slips past you this week, just check with @MocsClub. They’ll be glad to hear from you anytime.

Correction, Presbyterian Blue Hose style as it seems the Scribe picked up a piece of misinformation regarding the new Blue Hose Assistant Wrestling Coach. Or didn’t. Until it can be dual sourced, we shall not say. What will be said is Presbyterian will have their preview. There IS quality information AND awareness to be spread about one of the only two Division One schools, along with column fav Sacred Heart, to field both a mens and womens team.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) Have not YET made the trek here but, based on video review, looking very much forward to the visit. For the small town college charm, the food, the coffee and to say hey to the “TX-friendly” level folks at Greeley Hat Works.

(2) The Royal Guardsmen, six stylin guys straight outta Ocala, FL., warned you about this a while back. ALWAYS play the “b” side of a record, never know what you’ll hear.

(3) Small wonder so many schools complain about having and or keeping 125lbers on their team or at weight. There’s SEVEN of them on Campbell’s roster, for crying out loud! #FreeTheTinyCamels