As the new year opens, the Truman State wrestling team faces the same power-packed schedule it had during 2015.
The ‘Dogs returned from winter break to compete in the Lindenwood Duals Jan. 8. The day-long event included matches against two of the top 10 teams in NCAA Div. II wrestling.
Redshirt sophomore Matt Yancey says the competition has been much more difficult lately, and the Bulldogs struggled against the top-ranked opponents. Yancey says this tough competition is what will better prepare Truman for regional competition, which could send the team to nationals.
The ‘Dogs opened 2016 by dropping their first two duals in shutout fashion to No. 6 University of Wisconsin-Parkside and No. 10 Lindenwood University. The Bulldogs were on the board during their third match of the day during a close match in the nightcap game against Ouachita Baptist University. The Ouachita Baptist match placed wins in several wrestlers’ columns as sophomore Ethan Rentschler and junior Rafael Lopez picked up the first points of the day for the ‘Dogs. Freshman Steven Serbinski picked up another win in the 165-pound weight class when he put his opponent down in 42 seconds. Serbinski acquired Truman’s only pinfall victory of the meet. Yancey followed Serbinski into the win column when he claimed a 12-6 win against his opponent in the 174-pound weight class.
Yancey says though the drive and chemistry of the team is great, the wrestlers still have a lot of room to grow this season.
“One negative thing right now is that we are a young team, which makes winning a little difficult since we aren’t fully developed,” Yancey says. “Down the road we should have this play to our advantage because many of us will be returning lettermen. It’s a positive that will grow out of this negative.”
One example of the Bulldogs’ youth is freshman Sam Reeves who claimed the final Bulldog victory when he completed the day with a 5-3 win in the 197-pound class. Reeves’ win over Ouachita Baptist came after 6-5 and 5-3 losses to Wisconsin-Parkside and Lindenwood respectively. Reeves continued to lead the ‘Dogs the following weekend during his debut at the Missouri Valley Invitational in Marshall, Missouri. In just 24 hours, Reeves worked his way to a 4-3 conclusion and an eighth place finish in the 197-pound bracket. After starting the meet 1-1, Reeves had a three-match winning streak until he fell during the consolation quarters and seventh place match. Reeves leads the ‘Dogs this year with a 17-8 overall record.
Lopez says he thinks the work on the mat and team chemistry have been a major part of the younger team members’ success.
“They are the best freshman class Truman has had in years,” Lopez says. “It showed at our first tournament coming back from break, and the whole team was able to feed off the wins.”
The Bulldogs will be on the road this week with a match at Graceland University Jan. 21. The Yellow Jackets are 1-4 in dual meets on the season, while Truman will enter the match at 5-9.
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