The ASU wrestling team wrapped up its homestand with a win Sunday night and was back in the wrestling room early Monday morning.
The fifth-place Sun Devils (7-7, 2-1 Pac-12) have a tough road trip head, facing the two teams between ASU in the Pac-12 standings, fourth-place CSU Bakersfield (6-7, 1-3 Pac-12) and sixth-place Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (3-8, 0-4 Pac-12). The Sun Devils have done great inside the comfort of Wells Fargo Arena but struggled early on away from home.
Coach Shawn Charles said the keys to success are crucial for any meet, but especially on the road.
“It’s important the guys are confident and their timing is on,” Charles said. “They need to have a game plan when they go out there and wrestle. We make sure they have a chance to drill and do some things they want to do and that those things are going to work.
“They need to get a good night’s sleep and make sure that they make weight and are rested up instead of trying to workout and cut weight right before a meet.”
Wrestling is a “lifestyle sport,” Charles noted, and the aspect of cutting weight per regulations to maintain your status in a specific class is an element not present in other sports.
“(The lifestyle) is not something you can turn on and turn off,” Charles said. “Water, carbs and protein are key to make sure that our athletes are energized and ready to work hard.”
The coaching and training staff’s responsibilities extend far beyond just training in the wrestling room.
“Certain days we work on more technique than others, and we try to stick to a routine for the most part,” Charles said. “But we will mix it up, and work more on riding, for example, instead of takedowns.”
Being prepared mentally is just as critical an element as the training and conditioning regimen the team does daily. Watching wrestling film, unlike football or basketball is not a formal team gathering, but it is just as important to go through with each athlete individually.
“We want to know what leg they lead with, what shots they like to execute,” Charles said. “If you can take away a guy’s best move, then you force him to try to beat you with his third or fourth best move. We try to find their tendencies, so we know how to counter them.”
Also little known to the casual observer is that the coin toss dictates who has odd or even.
“If you win odd, then the other team has to present their wrestler first, and you get to choose top or bottom, neutral or defer, and that comes in to play when we’re trying to decide who will match up best,” Charles said.
As a result, Charles and his coaching staff are in an ongoing chess match trying to predict, based on their opponent’s probable starters and the outcome of the toss, which matchups will favor the team in particular weight classes. Proper preparation and disciplined coaching have been themes all season for this ASU squad, but they only become more significant as the Pac-12 Championship looms closer.
The Sun Devils head to San Luis Obispo to take on Cal Poly at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14, and then CSU Bakersfield at 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16.
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