Marcus Whipple ‘21
Davidson’s Head Wrestling Coach Andy Lausier preached “resiliency” as one of the hallmarks for the team. “We are building a new era of Davidson wrestling, and to do that we need to challenge this program in ways it’s never been challenged before,” he said. This 2019-2020 Davidson Wrestling season has indeed been challenging, but it has also proven that this team is ready for success and to embrace those challenges.
The season started out with difficulty as the team dropped its first three matches, but as the season progressed, it began to find more success. With only one conference match left before the Southern Conference Tournament, the team posts a 3-11 record overall and 2-4 in conference competition. Coming off a 2018-19 season without a single conference victory, to have already secured two Division I wins is validation that the team is trending upwards.
Davidson is one of the youngest teams in the conference, with seven underclassmen starters. Coach Lausier recognizes the difficult task laid out before his youth but was quick to give praise and credit to his upperclassmen leaders, stating, “Since I’ve been here, they’ve improved a lot, and their leadership has been immeasurable for our program.”
Chief amongst the young stars is sophomore Kyle Gorant ‘22 with a team-leading 10 individual wins. Alongside him and amongst the fresh blood in the program are freshmen Cian Fischer ‘23 and Gavin Henry ‘23. Fischer leads the team with six pinfall wins, while Henry is off to a 4-4 start in his collegiate career.
“I think we’re doing really great as a team; the freshmen are coming up and taking hold of a lot of responsibility,” Noah Satterfield ‘20 said. “It’s really cool for us seniors to see them come up and step up.”
One of the most satisfying moments for the team was their senior night victory over The Citadel on January 17th. The match began with back-to-back pinfalls from Fischer and Gorant, starting off the night well. It capped off with another pair of back-to-back Wildcat pins, this time from freshmen Steven Newell ‘23 and Henry, securing the 27-18 win.
“When we beat The Citadel, that was our best moment of the season,” Will Baldwin ‘21 said. “For us, for our morale, that win was huge, and we beat them by quite a few points.”
Coach Lausier echoed Baldwin’s sentiments, stating, “It was one of the most exciting moments of my coaching career and some of the most exciting wrestling I’ve seen from our guys.”
The team has not experienced blanket success this season, as they have lost 11 matches, but every match is a learning opportunity for the team to improve. Part of that learning takes place against the best teams in the country, such as #12 Pittsburgh, which the ’Cats visited last weekend.
“Although the score didn’t go well, it was about the experience and learning what those guys do that makes them so great,” Coach Lausier said.
Looking ahead, the team has one final meet at home next Sunday against Campbell before moving on to the Southern Conference Tournament on March 8th. When asked what the guys need to do for success, Satterfield was confident in the team’s chances.
“We all need to go out and wrestle to our ability and be disciplined. We have better conditioning, just being disciplined can [allow us to] overcome the teams ahead of us.”
Along with continuous grit and grind, Baldwin alluded to the ways that the Davidson community can also empower the team, stating, “Student support, involvement and energy; it’s not just in the moment that it’s huge for us, but we take that feeling with us throughout the rest of the season.”
This Sunday at 2:00 PM is the final opportunity to see these Wildcats in action, and it will be something not to miss, according to Baldwin.
“Definitely come to the Campbell match, they’re a legit team and a good opportunity for us to get some good looks going into the conference tournament.”