Drew Eastland ‘21
Despite a tough 0-3 start to their 2019-2020 season, Davidson’s wrestling team is finding a silver lining to their performances. With over half the season still to play and five more conference meets to go, the team is hoping their initial adversity will motivate them to great results going into the winter.
Head Coach Andy Lausier emphasized that he and the team remain focused on “building a new era of Davidson wrestling.”
Compared to previous seasons, the team has already shown tremendous progress. In each of the past three years, the team has kicked off its season at the Southeast Open, which features big-time programs like Missouri and Virginia Tech. This year, at that tournament, five Davidson wrestlers placed. This number is up from one in 2018 and zero in 2017.
“I am happy with the progress I am seeing in relation to last season,” Lausier commented, adding,“Our measuring stick for success is progress.”
The team also battled hard against top-tier talent in both their dual matches and the tournament, such as VMI and Franklin and Marshall. While those close fought matches do not appear on the record mark, they are still pivotal for the team’s growth and success going forward.
“Sometimes the scores can be misleading, especially in our program’s stage of development,” Lausier explained. “We were really close with VMI, and Franklin & Marshall; we had some great performances at the Journeyman Classic, a tournament that had four of the top-20 nationally ranked teams in the field.”
Injuries have also plagued the team thus far. Two starters, Cian Fischer ‘23 and Gavin Henry ’23, were unable to compete with the team in their first two tournaments and matches.
With such a young team, consisting of only four upperclassmen, it is not unreasonable to expect some of the freshmen and sophomores to step up as they become comfortable in larger roles. Additionally, every practice, tournament, and match these young athletes compete in will give them added exposure and build the program’s foundation in years to come.
“We are relying heavily on freshmen and sophomores to make a large impact for us this season,” senior Hunter Costa ’20 explained. “As our young guys continue to adjust to Division I wrestling and each guy trusts in themselves to do their part, I think we’ll begin to see positive results.”
Some of the underclassmen are already making a huge impact. Kyle Gorant ‘22 started the season strong with a second-place finish in the 133-pound freshman/sophomore division during the Southeast Open.
In addition, first-year athletes David Loniewski ’23 and Steven Newell ’23 both took home victories against VMI in the 141-pound and 174-pound weight classes, respectively.
Even if team members do not win their matches, close losses can still help the team’s overall score. Avoiding pins can be just as important as making them when the scores are totaled up.
“Moving forward, we all need to perform in cadence in dual meets—we can’t have seven good performances and three poor performances,” Lausier emphasized. “Even in the individual matches we lose, we need to fight for the team and avoid giving up bonus points in pins, technical falls, or major decisions.”
If the team continues to work hard and build on their small wins, there is plenty of time to turn around the season. Most importantly, individual wrestlers need to grow both physically and mentally each day. If the team starts with the individual level and builds out from there, the results should show that progress.
“We have a really solid lineup,” Costa said. “So just continuing to believe and trust ourselves and grow in our confidence will be the two factors that are going to be crucial for us as the season progresses.”
This week, the ‘Cats will have doubleheader duty on Friday when they take on Long Island University and George Mason University at George Mason.