Wrestling: Injuries hamper grapplers in early-season competition
The 2012-13 wrestling team has entered its season with new faces and new fight.
Two-time NCAA Championship winner Joe Dubuque has joined the coaching staff as assistant coach. His experience inspires the wrestlers to perform at a higher level, players said.
“It’s just nice to have someone in the room that’s won nationals twice,” freshman Scott Gibbons said. “That’s your ultimate goal, so to just have someone in the room who’s achieved that is huge.”
The start of the season marks the time when wrestlers are competing for starting positions before the spots become established. Gibbons explained that the beginning of the season involves working out the kinks and adjusting. As the season progresses, the wrestlers get into a rhythm and start performing to the best of their abilities. Princeton’s early tournaments are places to get into that groove.
So far, the Tigers have competed in the Binghamton Open and the Keystone Open. Senior co-captain Zach Bintliff was one of Princeton’s four wrestlers who placed in the Binghamton Open on Nov. 11, while the Tigers came in 13th as a team at the Keystone Open this past Sunday. Princeton is taking advantage of these early matches to establish itself as an offensive, aggressive team.
“ ‘Everybody’s just got to fight’ — that’s what [head] Coach [Chris] Ayres told us this weekend,” Gibbons said. “We want to see everybody aggressive out there, attempting moves.”
The team has impressive freshman wrestlers who will be fighting for spots in their respective weight classes and have already shown their potential in the first matches of the season. Gibbons is one of these freshmen, and he has already had a strong showing. Along with placing at the Binghamton Open, Gibbons came in at third place in the Keystone Open, the best performance by a Princeton wrestler. Gibbons has high hopes for the season.
“I know I’m just a freshman coming in, but my individual goal is national champion,” Gibbons said. “I can’t go into a season without having the goal of being the best.”
However, Gibbons is not the only freshman who is out to prove himself this season. In the Binghamton Open, two other freshmen, Abram Ayala and Judd Ziegler, joined Gibbons on the podium, so that freshmen made up three of the four place winners for the Tigers.
Princeton finished last season in 11th place in the EIWA finals. However, the Tigers have goals to establish the program and improve both individually and as a team. Princeton hopes to compete with the best, especially to have a strong showing against Cornell, a league rival and the nation’s No. 8 team.
“Cornell’s a long shot, but we want to be next in the Ivy League,” Gibbons said when asked about the team’s specific goals. “And we want to be sending as many qualifiers as we can to NCAAs. And just getting the best results we can on the mat, ‘cause we have a good team this year and we want to show that.”
Princeton is missing two players who must sit out the season in its entirety due to injury: Chris Perez and Adam Krop. Senior Luis Ramos and sophomore Rich Eva will both be out early on but should return to the mat later in the season. The loss of these players, however, is not affecting the dedication of the healthy members of the team.
“We have a lot of guys injured from last year,” Gibbons said. “They’ll be coming back next year, but we want to show that we still have a tough team this year with the guys we have.”
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