WVU ready for first match after break
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 00:01
For the West Virginia wrestling team, winter break consisted of two-a-days, matches and just a four-day rest to see their families for Christmas.
Head coach Craig Turnbull’s most difficult challenge during that time was keeping his team motivated and focused while most WVU students were away for break.
"Keeping the guys going every day was a bit of struggle. They come in twice a day sometimes, so I had to change the practices up a bit," Turnbull said. "Some days we would have soft days, and watch tape. Other days, we’re hitting the mat hard and having serious workouts, but that is what they are used too.
"My family is used to it. We didn’t have a Thanksgiving, either, and these kids that have been wrestling for a long time are used to it, also."
Junior Nathan Pennesi, who leads the team in victories this season, saw his schedule of sleeping, eating and wrestling become tiresome and said he found it hard to focus at times.
"Every day, you come in, and you feel like you are doing the same thing," he said. "Since there is no one here, all you feel like you are doing is just wrestling and sleeping.
"I made a game plan before each practice; I would go in and see what I can try and accomplish in each practice."
Finding their focus will not be hard for this weekend’s upcoming match against Oklahoma State, a team loaded with some of the top wrestlers in the country.
Playing a team like this will be nothing new for the Mountaineers, who faced a similarly stacked lineup against No.1 Penn State.
Coach Turnbull said he sees any win this weekend as an upset, but he expects his team to come out better and compete harder than they did against Penn State.
"Some of the guys were in a kind of awe when they went against Penn State. They weren’t ready for that kind of competition," Turnbull said. "Now that they have seen the best competition, they can be focused and can expect what is coming.
"My preparation hasn’t changed much at all; we just need to go out there and when it is their time to wrestle hopefully they can perform the way they want too."
Pennesi has taken this week with no competition to prepare himself even more for Oklahoma State. The junior is entering this weekend’s match with a different, more relaxed mindset.
"I’m going in there not trying to be shocked by the atmosphere. This is one of the toughest places to compete in the country," Pennesi said. "We can’t get overwhelmed, and we have to stop putting them at such a high standard. You want to wrestle well, but
in order to that, you just have to wrestle the way you do."
This weekend’s match marks West Virginia’s first event in the Big 12 Conference this season.