Each week, 10 wrestlers compete for MSU against the nation’s best, but, for the rest of the team, the grind never stops on the road to get into the starting lineup.
The team trains together in the same program during the week, but some weekends, wrestlers not in the starting lineup are limited to competing as individuals in open tournaments.
This past weekend, some MSU wrestling reserves traveled to Edinboro, Pa., for the Edinboro Open.
Redshirt freshmen 149-pounder Roger Wildmo finished second, sophomore 197-pounder Luke Jones and freshman heavyweight Chris Nash finished third, and juniors 133-pounder Chris Lyon and 174-pounder Nick Kaczanowski came in sixth.
Although two of those players have appeared in MSU’s starting lineup, their performances this weekend had no effect on MSU’s team record.
MSU head coach Tom Minkel said traveling to the tournament isn’t paid for by MSU, making cost the most difficult obstacle to overcome.
“The hard part is they have to pay their own way and pay their own hotel and food and entry fee,” he said. “We can’t do that for them.”
Minkel said there’s more than just showing up to the event and participating — there is a procedure the wrestlers and coaches must complete.
“There’s a whole administrative process you go through,” Minkel said. “We submit a list of who’s traveling. You have to get permission first. It’s like any of us doing it.”
After their solo competitions, the reserves made it back to East Lansing in time to cheer on their teammates against Michigan.
During the trip, they gained experience crucial to their future wrestling plans.
“Going out and wrestling a guy you don’t know what they’re going to do or you’re not used to, that’s what makes you better,” Nashsaid.
Wildmo broke the starting lineup briefly in the middle of the season, and said the pressure of competing in open tournaments is the most effective way to practice.
“In practice there’s completely no pressure as compared to on the mat,” Wildmo said. “The pressure doesn’t bother me, it’s just the feel to it. When you wrestle someone competing, it’s a different feel than your partner.”
Everybody wants to start, but Minkel said the best way to crack the starting lineup is to get the experience these tournaments provide.
“If you’re going to work your way into the lineup, you need experience, and competitive experience, and that’s how you get it,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re just riding the bench for maybe a year, and this gives kids the opportunity to compete.”