Lakers prepare to hit the mat

GVL Archive
A Laker athlete wrestles an opponent in a past meet

GVL Archives

GVL Archive A Laker athlete wrestles an opponent in a past meet

Jon Van Zytveld

With its season opener approaching, the Grand Valley State University men’s wrestling club is putting in the final hours of preseason practice and are preparing to out-perform last year’s record.

“We have a team that has really worked hard and they come in and have themselves ready to go,” said GVSU head coach Rick Bolhuis, now in his sixth year of coaching for the Lakers. “They’re on time, and they work at their maximum level. I’ve been really impressed with the group that I’ve seen and their willingness to put the work in. Everyone has put in the necessary work thus far to be ready for our events this Friday and Saturday. I think we’ll see where we’re at and what we need to work on.”

The Lakers began conditioning in September with workouts and wrestling drills in order to make the skills second nature for the team. After the long break from wrestling, the Lakers were excited to get back into shape and into the season.

“We have done a lot more conditioning than usual this year,” said sophomore Andy Brown. “I think that we’re closer at the beginning of the year than we have been in past years. We’ve trained hard and put in a lot of effort to get ourselves in the best shape that we can be.”

After losing a national champion in heavyweight Corey Melin, and five of their nine All-American wrestlers from last season to either graduation or scheduling conflicts, the Lakers are taking extra care to establish camaraderie between wrestlers that will welcome in the freshmen and create a team unit that can work together, on and off the mat.

“I really loved wrestling last year, and this year we’ve got some really good wrestlers, so I’m pretty excited for the season,” said sophomore Nate Falbe. “We’re like one big family, we’re always joking around. We’re all friends, even outside of wrestling.”

While the Lakers have had a high level of performance in past years, this team is committed to pushing past old goals and establishing higher standards upon its already successful program.

“We’ve had a lot of success in the last few years, so there’s some added pressure and expectations that we take on,” Bolhuis said. “Our eyes are really on the National Tournament in March, and we want to be prepared to compete and put out a good showing there. Last year we had nine All-Americans, but five of those nine were in eighth place, which is the lowest you can get to be an All-American. We’d like to improve on that this year.”

The Lakers will kick off their season with a dual tournament on Friday at the Ben McMullen Open Wrestling Tournament Saturday, both at Muskegon Community College. Brown said the players have put in the time and will be prepared to start the season on a high note this year.

“I think that the practices have been intense enough where everyone should meet their expectations this weekend, as far as the guys being in good enough shape to compete for all seven minutes and compete effectively,” he said.

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