This weekend was a good weekend to be a wrestling fan. I was fortunate to watch many matches from the Beast of the East and the US Nationals. I will focus on comparing a few observations between 4x Beast Champ Nick Suriano and 4x NCAA Champ & US Nationals Champ Kyle Dake.
1. Consistency- You can’t talk about these two wrestlers without talking about consistency. We all know they work their tails off consistently. Work hard in practice consistently and you’ll perform well consistently right? Wrong. It is more than that for these guys. The way they approach matches, the way they warm up and the way they work DURING each bout is consistent. Watch the effort they put into each match. They don’t give up any easy or free points. Observe the way they look and move before matches. It is consistent. This leads to more consistent thoughts and feelings before they compete. Then of course look at their results. Consistent. As the great Sammie Henson (WVU Head Coach & World Champ) preaches “Consistency Wins.”
2. Drawing First Blood- In the finals of their respective tournaments both attacked early and drew first blood. That is a key among elite wrestlers. They don’t wait. They don’t feel their opponents out. They look to score early. This is a great way to win the mental battle.
3. Killer Instinct- After each drew first blood, they jumped all over it. Suriano finished the match with a first period fall against the #2 wrestler in the country and Dake scored 8 points in the first 30 secs. When the best wrestlers smell blood they jump all over it. They seize the moment. They are not complacent with a win when they can pin or dominate. I remember Tom Brands talking to his team and telling them that it doesn’t have to be close if you are wrestling a good opponent. Many wrestlers assume that to beat a really good opponent it has to be a close match. These elite wrestlers know that there is no such rule. It does NOT have to be close. They have developed the killer instinct to put matches out of reach.
4. Scoring from Top- The best wrestlers at the Beast and US Nationals scored from the top position. Dake had a bunch of trap arm guts, Suriano and his teammate Chris Foca had falls in the finals and plenty of backs throughout, Daniel Dennis teched his opponent from top, etc. Riding is not enough and now in college with 4 point backs, it becomes even more important to score from top. The best are tough on top; they can ride but more importantly they can turn.
*** Last point: Before stepping off the mat after Suriano’s finals pin, he made the sign of the cross and pointed up. Sometimes after big wins and tough losses it is difficult to keep perspective. It is easy to get too high or too low. Many times the very best are the best because they are able to keep perspective and to remain consistent with their values even during difficult times. Knowing what you believe and living out your values is critical to happiness, success, and fulfillment. Nick Suriano is a guy who knows what he believes (on and off the mat) and lives out those values on a consistent basis.