More than half the members of the Lehigh wrestling team stayed on campus this summer to begin training for the upcoming 2019-2020 season.
Summer training sessions are not mandatory, but many wrestlers opted to stay at Lehigh to keep in shape and find a rhythm before heading into the season.
Senior Nick Farro arrived on campus the first week of June to start preparing for his third active season on the team. Farro deferred his eligibility for the 2016-17 season. His schedule over the summer consisted of three to four workouts and four lifts per week. Farro continued this routine to the end of August.
“This (summer), a lot of the focus was on bottom, moving our hands and feet and getting to attacks,” Farro said. “Just generally trying to pick up our wrestling intensity and pick up the pace to put more points on the board this year.”
Senior Jordan Wood arrived at Lehigh three days after his high school graduation in 2016. Wood did not leave campus for more than two days in a row this summer.
“We’ve got a special group of guys here who know what it takes to get better,” Wood said. “If you’re not working and don’t have an internship, there’s a really good chance you’re on campus. We’re just doing everything we can. I’d say three quarters of the team are here.”
For the Mountain Hawks, the summer is about getting stronger. Working on the ability to defend as many positions as possible and finding ways to win from those positions is essential during offseason months.
As the season approaches, there is an increased focus on mat strategy and conditioning.
“Being able to get into the seven-minute grind matches and come out on top by using good positioning and good strategy is key,” Wood said.
Given that the team spends 10-11 months of the year training, Coach Pat Santoro said the team always retains some degree of fitness, even if they are not operating at peak mid-season levels.
“Right now, we’re building off of the summer,” Santoro said. “Most of the year, (the team) is doing some kind of wrestling, so they never really get out of shape.”
Santoro said the team has been and continues to build its base and increase wrestling volume. Aerobic exercise, achieved through interval training aimed at improving VO₂ max levels—a measurement of maximum oxygen uptake by an individual during exercise—is an important component to the team’s physical development.
Santoro said results are not his primary concern. He is always focused on the next workout and the next match, making sure everyone is competing at their full potential. Santoro said he expects the best effort from his wrestlers and believes the results will take care of themselves as long as everyone is dedicated to improving and making the most out of practices.
“We really want our guys to focus on getting better,” Santoro said. “If we have that approach of getting a little bit better every day, I think we’ll have a good season. If we worry about getting ahead of this team or that team, that’s when we’ll have trouble.”
Last season, Lehigh finished with an overall record of 9-9.
“Every guy on this team wants to be a national champion,” Wood said. “We want to get guys on the podium and bring home a team trophy from nationals. We want to knock off those Big 10 schools and show them that Lehigh is still on the map, that we’re still a team that is there to compete with the best of the best.”
The Mountain Hawks will compete in the Wrestle-Offs at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, in Grace Hall.