10 out of 28 wrestlers for the SF State wrestling team qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Super Regionals in Kearney, Nebraska. Three wrestlers ranked in the top 10 for their respective weight class within the NCAA. Justin Pichedwatana, a Junior Sociology major, qualified for Nationals as he became the 184 pound champion in Regionals. Nationals will take place on March 13-14.
Meet Head Coach Jason Welch: Welch is currently in his 3rd season as head coach for SF State. In his first year coaching at SF State, he produced three Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Champions and two NCAA qualifiers. Welch is a three time state champion and a three time NCAA All-American.
Q: How do you feel about the team’s overall season?
A: “I feel really good about the season, I feel like we made steady improvements to not just the performance but also to the culture of the team … In my first season we had two NCAA qualifiers, who almost placed and we were in the top 40 or 50 in the country” “Last Year we had two qualifiers go to both All-American place in the top 20 of the country and this year were looking to up on that”
Q: How’s it looking for this year?
A: “Hopefully get those [3 qualifiers that are ranked] through, and a dark horse or two” “The goal is to get at least 3 qualifiers and 3 All-Americans and keep building steadily”
Q: How do you prepare these higher ranked athletes to achieve the next level?
A: “The biggest thing were doing right now is [practicing] really well, whether it’s those top 3 guys who are top in country or the other 7 guys who go to regionals to make some noise, were just really tapering and cutting back on our practice time right now, so rather than being in the room for two and a half hours, were only in there for one hour and the quality of the work is really high, the focus is high. You do a really big workload during the year, so you start [lowering] the workload little by little, making sure their weight is good, they’re happy”
Q: What is focused on by some individuals?
A: “Every guy is going to be a little bit different, just making sure we really truly sincerely know our athletes now and what they need in those last weeks leading up to the tournaments” “One guy may need extra encouragement, extra sprints, less sprints, you just make sure you know what those individuals needs are”
Q: Does practice vary?
A: “We have a vast array of practice plans, and we always try to switch it up to keep guys interested and stimulated to make sure its not getting into the same bland routine” “Some days we do a lot of sparring, working on technique, conditioning, mental work, it can depend on what day of week it is, if were in season or off season, days before a tournament, or just to cut weight.
Q: So what’s next?
A: “So even next week when there’s fewer guys left who are going on to Nationals, we still have group practice. For the individual work, it’s always extra. We have our base, our practices that we always do, where everyone’s to that standard. If guys need or don’t need to put in more work then they have to come in on their own and do that with us.”