Army's 2013-14 Schedule: Black Knights to Compete at Cliff Keen Invite, Southern Scuffle and Grapple at the Garden

The Army wrestling team recently released the 2013-14 schedule, featuring a mixture of duals and challenging tournaments.

The squad begins the 2013-14 campaign on November 2 with a meet at Franklin & Marshall before spending the remainder of the month in the state of New York.  The squad will host Stevens Tech at West Point before competing at the Oklahoma Gold event in Brockport and at the New York State championships in Ithaca.

On December 1, the Black Knights travel to New York City for the Grapple at the Garden where they will square off with Princeton and Hofstra. Then, it’s off to two of the country’s toughest tournaments – the Cliff Keen Invitational in Nevada and the Southern Scuffle, before continuing the dual schedule.  Army concludes the regular season at Navy on February 21.

To see the full slate, click this link.

 

Commanding Presence, Future of Service: State Champion Luis Weierbach Pledges to Army

It was summer break, but Hoosick Falls state champion Luis Weierbach was up before 6:00 in the morning and running by 6:30.  At the Ranger Intensive wrestling camp at West Point in July, that was just the start of the day’s exercise, which also included three practices per day.

“I got an inside look at Cadet life,” Weierbach said of the experience. “The counselors were Cadets, so they gave us inside knowledge on what to expect and I got to know the coaching staff.  It was intense. The atmosphere there reaffirmed what I already thought I wanted for my future and told me that West Point was where I needed to go.”

Weierbach captured the attention of the Army staff during his time on campus and a few days ago he made things official, as he gave a verbal commitment to head coach Joe Heskett and the Black Knights.

The decision wasn’t a surprise to those familiar with the Section 2 star.  Weierbach has known for quite some time that the military would be an important part of his life. (He also considered the Naval and Merchant Marine Academies).

“At a very young age, I knew I wanted to serve,” Weierbach said.  “My grandfather was a Marine. He left service life behind when he passed, and I felt that legacy was left to me.  I realized early on that service academies have a lot to offer.”

He saw a lot more of what the United States Military Academy offers during his time at the Ranger camp.

“We ran a lot, so I had a chance to see a lot of the campus,” Weierbach said. “Additionally, there were leadership seminars, where we learned about West Point and the military.  The speakers talked about qualities common among Cadets and also general life lessons. I really took a lot from these leadership seminars – it was really insightful information.”

While Weierbach was the recipient of insightful information at those presentations, he also has experience on the other side of leadership seminars – as the teacher.

Earlier this year, the senior was a keynote speaker at the “Life of An Athlete” conference in Lake Placid along with his school’s superintendent.  The audiences included students from various parts of the country as well as school administrators and staff.

“The conference in general was about how an athlete should live including nutrition, fitness and a healthy lifestyle,” Weierbach said. “We talked about our Hoosick Falls Code of Conduct and how implementing it has impacted our sports performance over the past few years.”

Weierbach knows plenty about successful performance in sports.

As a freshman, he qualified for the state tournament and went 2-2, just missing All-State status.  As a tenth grader, he moved up the ladder, earning fifth place at 99 pounds.  Then, in 2012-13, Weierbach made another leap, putting together a perfect 37-0 campaign at 106 pounds in which he won 30 bouts by bonus points.

What helped him get to that next level?

“The mental game changed for me,” he said. “I realized that while this sport is largely defined by athleticism, strength, speed and technique, a lot of it comes down to the mental aspect. It’s one of the things my coach, Landon Nelson, has helped me with – being mentally prepared, envisioning possible scenarios and taking no opponent lightly.  Whether it’s the first match of the season at a small tournament or the state finals match, you need to have the same mentality.”

That approach definitely came in handy in Albany, in his third appearance at the biggest event of the New York high school season.

“The atmosphere at the state tournament can make or break any wrestler,” Weierbach said. “Having that experience before was definitely an advantage.  I was nervous my freshman year, but by last year, I was used to it.  I would go so far as to say that having my supporters there empowered me and motivated me to do better.”

He began strong, pinning Brody Sheppard in just over three minutes in his opening contest before recording a pair of shutout decisions in rounds two and three.  And then, wearing a “throwback” Hoosick Falls singlet, Weierbach defeated Dolgeville’s Danny Fox 3-1 in the title bout to strike gold.

“The state title was the product of so many hours of hard work, so in that regard, I appreciate it more than anything else in my career,” he said. “But what was most special about the state title was that it was the first one in my school’s history. More exciting than hearing them say ‘Weierbach’ when they were announcing the winners was when they said ‘Hoosick Falls’.  I wore the throwback singlet to show that I represent Hoosick Falls.  I would not have accomplished it without the support of my team, my coach and the whole community.”

That’s a theme that’s very important to the future Army 125 pounder. Weierbach emphasized on a number of occasions that his championship was the product of the efforts of many around him.

“We set the goal of bringing home a state title at the beginning of the season – myself, my coach and my team – not just me,” he said. “I think in wrestling it’s often misunderstood that it’s an individual sport because you’re the only one on the mat.  I’ve played football, baseball and soccer and I think wrestling is just as much a team sport. In the room, behind the scenes, when the opponent isn’t watching, there’s a team effort to develop the speed, technique and toughness to go out on the mat alone.  Nolan Foster was my main workout partner and he really stepped up his game this year.  He was excellent.  He pushed me and I wouldn’t have done what I did without him, my other partners or my coach.”

So what’s next?

Weierbach said his offseason regimen “isn’t typical of a state champion.” He wrestles with Journeymen at some tournaments, trying to get in around 20 matches.  But he also has a lot of other things on his plate, including working at his high school doing maintenance and being a lifeguard at the town pool.

“I try to stay active all the time,” he said. “I drill with the New York National Guard, so that certainly keeps me in shape. Right now, I’m playing varsity soccer, which I love too. But once the wrestling season starts, it’s game on and wrestling gets my attention.”

It’s had his attention in the winter season since he first discovered the sport upon arriving in Hoosick Falls as a seventh grader.

“I grew up in New York City and I never knew about the sport of wrestling until I moved,” he said. “I never even heard of it outside of what we see on TV [in the WWE].  I’m certainly glad that I got involved.  I never would have thought I’d end up where I am now with wrestling.”

He did, however, think he’d end up serving his country.  That journey begins next fall when he moves to West Point.  For now, though, he has a few more things left to achieve.

“I haven’t decided on what weight I’ll wrestle next year, but one thing’s for sure,” he said. “We will work harder than anyone in New York State and refine and perfect and do whatever is necessary to win another state title.”

———————————————–

Luis Weierbach said that there were so many people who have helped him behind the scenes that he couldn’t mention them all by name and didn’t want to leave anyone out. He wanted to thank Hoosick Falls – a community that has supported him over the years and made his accomplishments possible.

 

Army Adds Former Penn State Wrestler Brad Pataky as an Assistant Coach

Courtesy of goarmysports.com

WEST POINT, N.Y. – Third-year Army head wrestling coach Joe Heskett announced the addition of Brad Pataky to his staff as an assistant coach on Thursday morning. An extremely accomplished wrestler in his own right, Pataky comes to West Point having spent the last two seasons on the staff at Lock Haven University.

“Brad is an ideal fit for our mission here at West Point,” Heskett said. “He embodies impeccable character and a passion for greatness. He is very intelligent and loves to battle on the mat. He is in the hunt to make World and Olympic teams and will have a major impact in the overall development of our cadet-athletes.”

Pataky was a three-time NCAA qualifier at Penn State where he was also three-time Big 10 place winner. The Keystone State native helped lead the Nittany Lions to the 2011 NCAA national title and posted an 83-31 career record.

Prior to his time in State College, Pa., Pataky enjoyed a stellar high school career during which he was a 2004 PIAA State Champion at 112 pounds, three-time PIAA state medalist and 10-time Asics Freestyle/Greco All-American. He authored an impressive 125-5 record as a high school grappler.

For more, see here.

Army Head Coach Joe Heskett Inducted into the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame

 
 
Army head coach Joe Heskett was one of five inductees into the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame over the weekend, joining Dale Brand, Kirk Myers, Troy Steiner and Terry Steiner.

The Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame began in 2002 and recognizes individuals who “have impacted the sport of wrestling on a national level, as well as in the state of Iowa”.

Heskett, a graduate of Iowa State University, was a four-time All-American and three-time finalist, who won an NCAA title in his senior campaign.

In a February article on goarmysports.com, Heskett said the following about his selection:

“First and foremost, I would like to thank the selection committee, as well as the Dan Gable Museum and Glen Brand Hall of Fame. I would also like to congratulate my fellow inductees. As I reflect upon my career, I am so grateful for the sport of wrestling and its role in developing my character and mentality. Being recognized in my sport at the highest level is an absolute honor. This humbling honor is an extension of the love and support that I have received throughout my life. This induction directly correlates to the love and sacrifice of the woman who raised, supported and mentored me, my grandmother, Evelyn.

“I am blessed beyond belief, and this induction is shared with all my coaches, specifically Bobby Douglas and my high school coach Bill Barger. This honor is also shared with my family, close friends, the Iowa State community, the Cal Poly and Ohio State communities and the community here at West Point. In closing, this honor is shared with my three gold medals Olivia, Ava and Joey.”

Heskett coached at Cal Poly and Ohio State before becoming the head coach at West Point.

For more, see here.

Joe Heskett Previews the 2012-2013 Season for the Army Black Knights

Jordan Thome, Photo by Boris V

In Joe Heskett’s second year as the head coach at Army, the Black Knights sent three wrestlers to the NCAA tournament and had six placers at the EIWA championships. Two of last year’s national qualifiers, Jordan Thome and Coleman Gracey, are back and the return of three starters whose seasons ended early due to injury a year ago make Heskett and his staff enthusiastic about a successful 2012-13 campaign. 

Coach Heskett talked to New York Wrestling News about the upcoming season, starting with a weight-by-weight look at the lineup.

125 PoundsHunter Wood will be the starter at this weight for the Black Knights, taking over for Scott Filbert, who won 21 matches and was seventh at EIWAs.  [Filbert won’t be wrestling this year.]

Coach Heskett: “Hunter and Scott went back and forth last year – Hunter was right there.  We think Hunter will step in do a good job.”

133 PoundsJordan Thome returns after winning 28 matches a year ago, including a victory over All-American Chris Dardanes of Minnesota.  Thome won a pair of bouts at the NCAA tournament and led AJ Schopp 5-0 going into the third period of his fourth match at nationals.  However, the Edinboro wrestler turned Thome for back points twice in the final stanza to earn a close decision.  The Ohio native returns, looking to take the next step onto the medal stand.

Coach Heskett: “I think last season was one of gradual growth for Jordan.  He was wrestling as well as he could have at the right time.  I was very proud of his NCAA performance.  His second loss against Schopp was heartbreaking, going into the third with a solid lead, but he has a chance to redeem himself.  The fire that invigorated him after he took seventh at EIWAs led him to have a good NCAA tournament.  Now he’ll use the fire from NCAAs last year to finish up his senior year on the podium.  We’re expecting a lot from him.  He’s definitely looked up to by the guys on the team, especially with the light-hearted, jovial spirit he brings.  He’s fun to be around but he’s also focused on doing great things.”

141 Pounds – A two-man race has emerged between Connor Hanafee and Ryan Bilyeu for the nod at 141.  Hanafee won 12 bouts a year ago before suffering a season-ending injury that required surgery.  Bilyeu is making the move down from 149 pounds.

Coach Heskett:   “This will be an interesting weight.  Connor’s season was cut short – he had to stop wrestling in January.  We’re glad to have him back.  Bilyeu is a grinder who came out of nowhere.  He was fourth on the depth chart last year at 149 at one point, but kept pushing to get on the mat.  He had some very good matches, including a 6-5 loss to Steve Santos of Columbia that was extremely controversial. Those two wrestlers and some others will have the opportunity to shine.”

149 PoundsDaniel Young began last season 11-4, including 5-1 in duals, with a pin over Iowa State’s Trent Weatherman and a major decision against EIWA runner up Kevin Tao.  His season came to an end in December, however, when he required surgery.

Coach Heskett: “Daniel was on pace to be at the national tournament and it looked like he would be doing some damage there before he got hurt.  He took Donnie Vinson down at least four times in their match before losing 16-10.  He’s athletic and looking really strong now.  He’s also one of our team captains.  We’re looking for big things from him.  We’re also excited to see how John Belanger and Javier Rodriguez wrestle.  149 will be a nice, interesting weight class for us.”

157 Pounds – Some young guns, Chandler Smith and Brian Harvey will look to make an impact at this weight after the departure of Jimmy Rafferty.

Coach Heskett: “I’m looking forward to seeing Chandler develop.  He’s done a phenomenal job and is so athletic.  Brian Harvey is another guy to watch.  He went 7-0 at the Junior Duals in Oklahoma City this year.  We have some really young, tough guys scrapping it out.  With the youth we have, we should be solid here for years to come.”

165 Pounds – With NCAA qualifier Cole Gracey likely moving up to 174, Ryan Marble and Patrick Marchetti are looking to step in at 165.

Coach Heskett: “Marble is a freshman who took an Olympic redshirt last year in freestyle.  He spent the year at the Olympic Training Center and is looking really tough.  He’s definitely one of the frontrunners.  We also have Marchetti, who is a seasoned veteran.  Between 157 and 165, we probably have 12 guys trying to win spots, so we feel like we’re in a good place.”

174 PoundsCole Gracey began his freshman year 7-11.  He went 18-4 the rest of the way to take third at the EIWAs, win a match at the NCAAs and capture EIWA Freshman of the Year honors.  Another rookie to look out for is Pennsylvania placer Austin Wilding, who Heskett said has already shown dramatic improvement in his short time at West Point.

Coach Heskett: “Coleman is one of the most enjoyable young men I’ve ever been around.  He is extremely coachable and he has the special ability to learn and be open-minded, on top of being a really hard worker.  Those are strong attributes to succeed on the wrestling mat and in life.  The exciting part is that he’s still finding himself as a wrestler.  He’s unorthodox and is working on solid fundamentals to incorporate into his style.  His upside is huge because he still can become more fundamental in the sport. He has a style that’s entertaining and really fun to watch.  We’re focused on getting him on the podium because he has the ability to get there this year.  He’s a winner and he’s resilient.”

184 PoundsCollin Wittmeyer, the third grappler who had season-ending surgery a year ago, is back.  He’ll battle with freshman Travis Mallo to represent the Black Knights at 184.

Coach Heskett: “Collin had two top 10 wins in the first week of the season – Boston’s Hunter Meys and Rider’s Jim Resnick.  He was looking great but then he was injured.  He’s a team captain and leader.  Mallo is a very tough young man who went to MAPS last year.  We’re really expecting big things out of 184 with those guys.”

197 Pounds – Derek Stanley was an NCAA qualifier a year ago at this weight.  Who will step in?  It looks like it will be Bryce Barnes, who had a very good year at MAPS, according to Heskett.

Coach Heskett: “He has been exceptional in his first few weeks back here at West Point. There’s something different about the way he trains, fights and leads out there.  I’m really excited to see him compete.  He’s very athletic and loves to scramble.”

285 PoundsStephen Snyder saw some time at heavyweight and will try to secure the job, as will Curtis Garner.

Coach Heskett:  “Snyder came to me after last season and told me he was on mission.  He’s been working like an animal.  He had a rough year, but his mentality and his effort were very good.  He’s working to become one of the best conditioned heavyweights in the country to meet his goals.  Garner will fight for the spot as well as a junior.”

A few more questions . . .

You’ll be going into your third year.  Where do you see the program going?

Coach Heskett:  We feel like we’re making a lot of progress.  When I took over the program, we didn’t have returning national qualifiers or high EIWA placers.  Last year we had three qualifiers and we’re in a situation where we have freshmen coming in and taking starting spots away.  That’s something we need to have happen to build a top 15 program.

We also felt we needed some other things to be a top 15 program and there are so many people behind the scenes who are helping us get there.  I can’t thank LTC Todd Messitt and the Staff of the Officer Representatives enough for all they’ve done.  We’re excited about things like the West Point Wrestling Club, money for a volunteer coach and a Regional Training Center.

We also have a coaching staff that I’m really excited about. Paul Young and Danny Mitcheff are outstanding.  They’re all in for what we’re trying to build.  They have a huge impact on the guys and their mentalities.  I can’t thank them or the administration enough for their support.

We’re also happy with what we’re doing off the mat.  We were proud to be honored for our APR scores last year.  [Army was one of eight Division I programs honored by the NCAA for their Academic Progress Rate]. It was awesome for our program and our institution to get recognized because it’s so important for us to enhance these young men in all aspects of life.”

What are your goals for the team this year?

Coach Heskett: “We look for an incremental growth in fight and the rest takes care of itself.  We have to be known as fighters and our Cadets have to know themselves as fighters.  We need to be resilient.  When we do that consistently, we’ll get to the places we need to go.  Our everyday goal is to train with that ferocity and fervor and mindset that I am the guy that is going to be the toughest guy on the planet.”