Club wrestling looks to make history
No matter the sport, all coaches dream of fielding a team with the perfect blend of experience and youth. Grand Valley State University club wrestling head coach Rick Bolhuis may have found just that in this year’s group of athletes.
The Lakers are coming off a fifth place finish at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association National Championships in the spring, and return this fall with a roster fall of underclassmen with worlds of experience.
GVSU will welcome a plethora of players back to the mat this season who competed, and won, matches at the national tournament in the spring. The experience comes in the form of young wrestlers, as the Lakers feature a roster bursting with freshman and sophomores.
“We do have a young team but we have a bunch of guys who are battle-tested,” Bolhuis said. “A lot of them wrestled at the national tournament last year and have been in the lineup for the better part of their first year… It’s kind of like a group of upperclassmen already.”
GVSU, a member of the NCWA since the 2000-2001 season, believes it has the talent and drive to not only better last year’s finish, but to better every other team they face come time for the national tournament. To do that, the Lakers will first have to take advantage of the time given to them in the fall – a time of competition that differs from the spring on many levels.
Rather than competing with a set lineup with full team matches, the fall season consists of getting wrestlers in shape, working on technique, and setting the best possible lineup come spring season. Laker wrestlers will see a lot more individual action in the fall before the overwhelmingly team-oriented spring season rolls around.
Competing in his fourth and final fall season this year is GVSU’s lone fourth-year senior wrestler and captain Kyle Horr. Horr–who earned All-American honors last year–narrowly missed out on a top three finish in the national tournament last spring, succumbing in his semifinal match to take fourth place. Horr, who has seen the program evolve year-after-year believes that this year’s squad has a chance to chance to do something special in his farewell season.
“Losing in the semifinals was tough on me, but it really gives me that little extra incentive to push myself as hard as I can every day,” said Horr. “A lot of the guys got good workouts, whether it be lifting or learning technique over the summer, and I think that makes our team goal of a national championship very attainable this year.”
All the work ethic and experience in the world mean nothing without talent. Thankfully for the Lakers, they have plenty of that as well.
In addition to Horr, the Lakers have had two players be named to All-American status, a recognition the GVSU wrestlers are looking to make into a tradition. 2011 All-American Bobby Tymes returns to competition after a year of absence. Although the marquee names are bound to pull their weight for GVSU, the Lakers believe its deep talent pool, packaged with their confidence, camaraderie, and clinches will be the key to a historic season.
“We like our team a lot,” senior Bruce “The Hammer” Rau said. “Our main goals are keeping everyone healthy and continuing to grind it out every day in and out of the room, preparing for March.”