MU
Oak Leaves

November 11, 2016

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MU Wrestling Thinks 'Outside' the Mat


Cass Ratliff

Wrestling mats, bleachers and an eager crowd . . . in the middle of a parking lot? That’s right. On Oct. 28, Manchester University held its first wrestling event of the season, Black and Gold Night: Battle on the Blacktop. Families and friends, as well as curious onlookers and passersby, gathered around the visitors’ lot beside the Jo Young Switzer Center to watch the various matches.

“The Battle on the Blacktop was a blast!” says Juan Grino, a first-year wrestler. “We had a lot of fans to cheer us on, and they were nice and loud.” His experience with the Manchester wrestling team has been “wonderful” so far, and he describes the team as a family because everyone gets along very well. “I personally have become a better person and a better wrestler from being part of this team,” Grino adds. “Everybody pushes each other to be the best they can be.”

Luis Cervantes, a sophomore wrestler, says that wrestling outside was an “amazing” experience, and that he’s grateful for the chance to do it, especially because of the good weather conditions. A quote he loves that he associates with wrestling is from Anderson da Silva, who holds the longest title streak in UFC history: “I may not be the best, but I’m capable of the impossible.”

The Black and Gold practice regularly, Monday through Saturday from 3:30 to 5:30, starting with warmups, workouts and drilling takedowns, before gathering for technique and occasionally playing games. The team ends every practice with some type of conditioning that pushes the wrestlers and shows them what they are capable of. “It’s awesome how open Coach is to new ideas,” says Ben Cauffman, another sophomore, speaking of Coach Kevin Lake. He adds that there are a lot of jokes shared in the room.

Manchester’s wrestling team has high hopes for the 2016-17 season. With a comparatively new coach who just joined the faculty at the beginning of last season in October 2015, and a total of fifteen first-years, the wrestlers hope to equal or even emulate their achievements from last year. In the previous season, the Spartans defeated Division III rivals Trine University and Lakeland College from Wisconsin.

Junior Tristan Wilson is confident in his hopes for the team’s success this year. Given the massive amounts of work the wrestlers put in during the summer and preseason, he says that this season “We hope to surprise a lot of people.” His favorite thing about wrestling at Manchester is the family atmosphere on the team. “We are all going to the lifts, enduring the hard practices, and balancing school on top of it all,” he explains. “We all rely on one another on and off the mat. These relationships that I built so far on the team are ones I know will carry throughout the rest of my life.”

Cauffman is looking forward to accomplishing many goals during the 2016-17 season. “The team this year has a different attitude than previous years,” he says. “I believe we will sneak up on a lot of big-name teams in the country.” The Manchester Spartans start their season in a match-up against the Wabash Little Giants  at home today, Friday, Nov. 11.