Wrestlers stay confident despite traveling troubles

When a Central Michigan wrestler gets a big win, head coach Tom Borrelli doesn't think about rankings. 

Instead, Borrelli thinks about how the match impacted the wrestler’s confidence. 

Confidence does a lot for a wrestler, Borrelli said. Especially for more experienced wrestlers because they are already at their peak physical level.

"Once you get to a certain skill level and strength level, then everything is mental," he said. 

Since younger wrestlers may not have reached their top skill and strength level yet, it is less of a mental game for them.

"For guys that are as strong as everybody else in their weight class and know the technique, it is 99 percent mental," Borrelli said. "We have some younger guys in our program like Mason (Smith) and Logan (Parks) and even Justin (Oliver) who is a sophomore.” 

"We are depending on those guys to be our starters, so a big part of that is catching up skill wise and catching up physically, but the biggest part of it is what is going on in your head." 

Senior Austin Severn is an example of a wrestler who is influenced by his own confidence. 

"I feel really good right now. It took a little while to get accustomed to the style of 197-pound wrestlers," Severn said. "I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable out there."

Severn said confidence is important to a wrestler's performance because it helps with a seedings and bids for the NCAA Tournament. 

"It helps when you beat some of the better guys in your conference," Severn said. 

Wrestling is the hardest sport to travel that in result affects confidence levels, because so many things can go wrong and wrestlers have to rely on a schedule to make weight, Borrelli said.

"The tough thing is that most of the time you have to be on a certain routine," Borrelli said. "You get into a rhythm of getting your weight down, what you are going to eat, what time you are going to wake up and what time you are going to work out. When you are at home, all of those things are easy."

Borrelli said when the team goes on the road to an away meet, nobody knows what is going to happen. 

"There's a lot of little things that can get thrown off," Borrelli said. "For example in the last trip that we went on to Missouri, we had two problems with the bus. We had to get another bus to come to East Lansing after the Michigan State match because in the morning we couldn't use that bus. 

"We were supposed to leave at 8 a.m., but we didn't leave until 11 a.m. The next day, we had to get people from Missouri to come get us because the bus broke down. Now, we are scrambling with guys trying to make weight because everything is thrown off."

When the unexpected occurs, the wrestlers schedule and routine changes. The away team is at the mercy of the home team because the home team decides when the away team is allowed to use facilitates to work out.

"Making weight is a really big part of this sport," Borrelli said. "If you are a tenth of a pound over, you are overweight and you cannot wrestle. Everything has to be pretty well planned and organized, and it's hard to stay in that routine when you are on the road."

The wrestling team never eats team meals. They give different amounts of food to different wrestlers because some of the bigger weight classes can afford to eat more than the lower ones.

During away meets, Borrelli said most wrestlers come in about two pounds overweight, then they lose the weight in the warm up an hour and a half before weigh-ins. 

The wrestlers workout for about an hour and then get some down time to make sure that they can make weight. Then the wrestling starts an hour after weigh-ins. 

The Chippewas’ last dual meet of the season will be a road match against Wisconsin at 1 p.m. Sunday.