Season preview: Gator wrestling looks forward to national title with new talent
With the 2014-15 season looming, the SF State wrestling team will lean on the experience of 10 letterwinners and one All-American to lead the team to hopefully its first national title since 1997.
Head coach Lars Jensen, who is beginning his 32nd year at the helm for the Gators, led SF State to an 8-5 overall record last year and has high expectations for his scrappy group going forward.
“Our goals are to place in the top four in the region and we want to take multiple folks to nationals and have at least two or three All-Americans,” Jensen said. “That’s our goal every year, to place top 20 in the nation.”
Redshirt seniors Andrew Reggi and Vincente Aboytes are two of the leaders on the team and are in their final years as Gators. With the season only a few days away, both seniors have one common achievement in mind.
“My goals are to be an All-American this year and to win a national title,” Reggi said. “I want to go all out this year, leave nothing on the mat and have fun.”
As two of four seniors on the team, Reggi and Aboytes look to be leaders and set the tone for a team made largely of freshman and transfer students.
“If we see them (underclassmen) struggle in certain aspects, we try to help them push through it on the mat,” Aboytes said. “Outside of the mat we try to make sure they don’t feel like they’re alone and that they have other guys with them.”
Even with three decades of coaching experience under his belt, Jensen has always instilled the same philosophy from day one of practice.
“Come in with a good work ethic, work hard and good things are going to happen,” Jensen said. “You might not be the starter and injuries do occur, but if you keep pounding away you’re gonna be successful by the time you’re a senior.”
The Gator team has a tough schedule ahead, facing Division I schools such as Stanford and Cal Poly.
“I think we’re excited about this season because we have some guys who are real hungry this year,” Jensen said. “We have a good group and we’re working hard — we’ll know in the next couple of weeks how good we are.”
Last year was the first time in four years that the Gators did not achieve an All-American for the team.
The Gators take to the mat for the first time this season Nov. 1 for the Alumni Purple/Gold Match.