Kaleel Weatherly, staff writer
As the 2015-2016 season approaches, Mason’s men’s wrestling team is gearing up for big successes.
Wrestler Greg Flournoy, a redshirt senior, said this year wrestlers will focus on building off of the strides made last season.
In the 2014-2015 season, Flournoy had a record of 28-12, the best record among the Mason men’s wrestlers. Flournoy said he did have a good year but that there were some matches he should have won.
“I started off a little slow and lost some matches that I should not have lost. I wasn’t wrestling too well,” Flournoy said. “Towards the middle of the season around January, I got one of my biggest wins in my college career, and that kind of gave me the confidence and showed me that I belong in the top rank of the country. That kind of jumpstarted my year, and I went on a winning streak.”
Flourney went on to enter his first NCAA tournament, the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) championships, in March, clinching a tournament spot with a true second finish.
Confident in his talent, Flournoy is choosing to stay calm in preparing for this season’s matches. He said keeping a cool head is a skill he has had to develop over the years.
“When I was little and in high school, I always kind of pumped myself up and got mad. But I just try to relax and know that all of the preparation, hard work, and all of the practices that I’ve done are going to pay off,” Flournoy said.
With last season already in the books, Flournoy has his sights set on an excellent final season at Mason.
“I had a great summer of wrestling. Coach Izzy [Israel Silva] had a great weight program for us this summer. Coach [David] Marble and Coach [Joe] Russell helped me work on my technique,” he said. “This is the best off-season I think I had in years since high school. I put in a lot more work this off-season just preparing and wanting to All-American.”
Preparing to face new opponents this year, Flournoy says he will stick to the tactics he learned this summer.
“I think that I have a good preparation. I like to fine tune my techniques. I worked on a lot of things this summer like just scoring more points,” Flournoy said. “I think last year I kept people in the match a little too much by winning by one or two points. So, this summer we just focused on dominating the match and winning by five, six, seven, or eight points.”
Flourney added that good coaching is an important part of wrestling and that each of Mason’s coaches encourages hard work, confidence and proper technique.
“Coach Russell and Coach Carl [are] always fine-tuning my technique and always pushing me to make sure that I am confident and that we are all prepared,” Flournoy said.
Flournoy said he shares a close relationship with his teammates as well. He notes genuine camaraderie among the wrestlers and says that the team is like a big family. He thinks the wrestlers’ closeness is a result of the time they spend together and the encouragement they give each other.
“We are always in here at the Field House. It is like our home. You know, wrestling is not easy, so it is hard to do it by yourself. It’s tough to cut weight and eat by yourself, so you have to pick each other up when you are down. We are always trying to push each other and make each other better,” Flournoy said.
With the season opener less than a month away, Flournoy is looking forward to the team proving itself to the Mason community. He says fans can expect to see improvement and a winning attitude among wrestlers this year.
“Each year we have been getting better and better. This team has progressed so much since I’ve been here as a freshman,” Flournoy said. “We want to win, and we know that people think that we are not that good. We do not like that at all, and we are pushing ourselves and doing whatever it takes to win because we want to be great. Our motto is that we want to win.”
Mason’s wrestling team will face some tough opponents this season, including teams from Virginia Tech, Rutgers and Edinboro University.
In the 2014-2015 season, Virginia Tech’s record was 14-2; Rutgers finished with a 14-7 record; and Edinboro University finished with a record of 14-5. Mason finished 10-12, excluding tournament results. Mason lost to Edinboro 14-31 late in last year’s season.
Mason’s first match of the season will be November 21 in Annapolis, Md., at 9 a.m. The competing team is yet to be announced.