With seven competitions left in the season, the California Baptist University wrestling team is focusing on applying a new game-plan and competing with all it has left.
Coming out of a loss against Fresno State University, Lennie Zalesky, head coach of men’s wrestling, said he believes losses can give the team motivation in learning and getting more tuned into their strengths and weaknesses.
“It’s a different style, a little bit more aggressive style in (NCAA Division I),” Zalesky said. “We’re getting acclimated to that, (and) acclimated to a lot of disciplines you need to do in this level.”
Having to face the best wrestlers in the nation has affected the team’s work ethic.
“The change in competition has made us work a lot harder as a team. We are doing extra work to catch up with the teams that have been successful at this level for years,” said Zachary Schrader, redshirt sophomore marketing major.
The team’s struggle is more pronounced when facing the top teams of the nation.
“Our competition level has gotten drastically harder due to the transition to DI,” Schrader said. “We dove straight into the deep end, seeking out the best possible competition we can.”
Zalesky’s said the goal for the upcoming matches is for the wrestlers to compete well and to wrestle as hard as they can regardless of the score.
“The technical part and physical part takes time to develop. The mental part sometimes can happen overnight or within a relatively short time,” Zalesky said. “The mental part is definitely a major part of the DI game.”
Wrestling more competitively is a game plan Zalesky is trying to apply to the team. He said he believes this is the key for success in DI competition.
“We’re still behind where I’d like to be in that area, but it’s hard to be aggressive when you don’t have a lot of experience,” Zalesky said. “Having said that, we have some guys that wrestle semi-aggressively, but you really need 10 guys to do that.”
Being able to wrestle with more force will give the wrestlers edge in competitions. “Wrestling (fiercely) helps us get to the technique we know and helps us set a pace that is indicative of the style we want,” said Bryce Buckley, junior accounting major andwrestler.
To achieve this goal the team’s mentality on every training session has improved to match the competition.
“Our intensity and attention to detail has definitely risen to the level of our competition,” Schrader said. “(It is) a result of moving to DI.”
The team continued the season, losing a face-off against Stanford on Jan. 25 in Palo Alto and then moved to San Francisco, finishing first at the California Collegiate Open on Jan. 26.