Inside the mentality of a backup wrestler

Alex Atkinson

Throughout the season, backups on the wrestling team are able to stay motivated knowing they may have a chance to compete each week. But when the season ends, a backup has to stay sidelined watching his teammates.

There are three thoughts that keep the backups motivated:

1. Workouts will help for the future seasons.

2. Working hard will help their sparring partner.

3. This is the last time senior athletes practice with the squad.

Racing around the track on a Tuesday afternoon practice is what Kent State wrestling team does best. Each of them give it everything they have, even though 15 of the 25 wrestlers’ season is over.

Junior Mallie Shuster, a backup at 157 to senior Matt Cathell, said he is able to still go out each day because he knows that even if he is not a starter now, the practices will make him stronger for when he does wrestle.

“It’s great thinking about making it to the MAC Tournament and becoming an All-American,” Shuster said. “But when you’re out here and we’re running and you don’t know when the hell it’s going to end, you just focus on how this is going to make me stronger.

“This is going to stretch my lungs, make my heart stronger and keep my feet moving in the third period.”

The backup seniors, Joe Tymoszczuk, Chris Estep and Sli Bostelman, do not have next season to look forward to.

“If you’re doing something, do it to the best of your ability and get better everyday,” Tymoszczuk , the backup heavyweight, said. He continued by quoting Kent State alumnus Lou Holtz. “‘If you don’t wake up every morning with the burning desire to achieve something, you don’t have enough goals.’”

Those goals, Tymoszczuk said, are to work his best and make those around him work their best.

“You try and make people around you better by making yourself better,” Tymoszczuk said. “It definitely gives you a boost to your self-esteem and confidence when your sparring partner is a national champ or an All-American. That’s who you are pushing and helping accomplish their goals.”

Making his sparring partner better is what Shuster said makes him most dedicated to work his best.

“Now knowing that my season is over, it’s to the point where when Marcel (Clopton) wrestles, I wrestle,” Shuster said. “All season I’ve taken it upon myself to make sure he’s warmed up and mentally prepared. If he falls a little short, I feel a little failure in myself. ”

Jim Andrassy, head wrestling coach, said this is the mentality he wants his backups to have.

“If our backups aren’t motivated to wrestle, it’s hard to get our starters motivated to wrestle,” Andrassy said.

For the next two weeks, the backups and coaching staff continue preparing the starters for the Mid-American Conference Tournament in DeKalb, Illinois, March 5-6.

Contact A.J. Atkinson at [email protected]