The Ottawa University wrestling team has high aspirations this season.
Third-year Braves coach Colby Crank wants his wrestlers to not get too involved with the results early in the season, but enjoy the journey, especially in this pandemic season.
"We are trying to find joy in the opportunity," he said. "Our opportunities may be limited. There has been so much change and adversity. We are humbled to be competing when a lot of people can’t right now."
The Braves are hitting all their goals early in the season. Ottawa, the two-time defending conference champions, opened defense of that title with a 42-12 win Thursday over Oklahoma Wesleyan at Wilson Field House.
"The team that will do the best will be the one that can stay engaged mentally," Crank said. "We have already had a shutdown and pauses here or there in our training. Staying invested and enthusiastic when there is so much uncertainty, is something we have focused on. Our depth and buy-in from the young guys speaks to that.’
Crank said the Braves’ depth was tested with three starters missing against Oklahoma Wesleyan.
"This event was not without adversity," he said. "These freshmen and young guys to step up and handle it admirably, it gives me a lot of confidence. It is not 10 guys that make our program, it is all 40. We put together a really great recruiting class. These guys have set a really high standard for themselves. They have really lofty goals and expectations. We want to get people invested in our brand. It is going to be an exciting year and exciting future for our program."
Ottawa won eight of the 10 matches. The veterans, such as Ryan Delforge, 147 pounds; Kolby Droegemeier, 165; Cameron Young-Leggett, 184; and Carson Savage, 197, set the tone for this team, not only on match day, but every day in practice. All three had dominating performances.
"They are pillars of our program," Crank said. "The one thing that we needed was consistency. We have those guys that will set the tone for our team. Those guys are a huge part of where we are going. When we hit that weight in our line up, you can feel it. The momentum shifted.
"Our goal was to put up a lot of points. They are not taking the foot off the gas and not settling. Carson Savage is just a finisher."
The squad will take a break and return to action Dec. 11 at York College.
Ottawa 42, Oklahoma Wesleyan 12
125 — Tyler Johnson, forfeit
133 — Wade Landrum, LBF
141 — Parker Wright, WBF
149 — Ryan Delforge, WBF
157 — Gabriel McDuffie, WBF
165 — Kolby Droegemeier, WBF
174 — Hunter Remigio, LBF
184 — Cameron Young-Leggett ,WBMD 19-7his
197 — Carson Savage, WBF
285 — Dalton Sikes, WBD 2-1