BEREA, Ohio – Head Coach Jamie Gibbs has elevated the Baldwin Wallace University wrestling team into the elite of Division III during his first six years on the Berea campus through hard work and unending energy and by teaching, coaching and recruiting. That effort is not lost on his team. Their hard work, energy, enthusiasm and extra effort is paying huge dividends for Gibbs and the BW wrestling program.
The Yellow Jackets, 15-3 overall, 1-0 in the Ohio Athletic Conference and ranked ninth in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Division III poll, enter this week just four wins shy of setting a school record for victories for the third straight season. A year ago, BW finished 18-8 overall and won its first OAC title since 1973 with a perfect 5-0 record and placed an all-time best second at the Div. III regionals. But again, it all goes back to hard work and extra effort.
In addition to working hard during their season, a pair of offseason factors has helped to leverage another exceptional season. Last May, Gibbs took 15 of his wrestlers on a cultural exchange to Russia which included working out with Russian, Bulgarian and Venezuelan Olympians and Olympic hopefuls. In addition, and all on their own and with no influence from Gibbs, a number of Yellow Jacket grapplers decided to stay on or near campus last summer, working on campus and off campus jobs and working out together almost every day.
"We are very pleased with the progress of our program and our student-athletes," said Gibbs, the 2015-2016 OAC Coach of the Year who has a 63-29 career dual match record at BW, including a 50-16 slate the past three seasons. "We have wrestled a strong, competitive schedule against a number of nationally-ranked opponents and our only losses are to teams ranked ahead of us at the time we competed."
"A key has been that self-induced, extra, individual effort by our young men and the continued extra effort and work done by my excellent coaching staff, and in particular my main assistant Mason True," said Gibbs. "Because of that effort, not only did our good wrestlers get even better, it helped everyone get better. We have a number of young men who learned and struggled somewhat as freshmen and sophomores who now are having an outstanding season."
"It has been great to see what young men can do when they motivate themselves, and when the veteran upperclassmen take exceptional leadership roles," continued Gibbs. "The atmosphere every day in our wrestling room is about family and great competition. Some of the best competition our guys get to face is in our own wrestling room. It is really fun, and we have a lot of fun as a team."
The Yellow Jackets are back in action this Friday, January 20 when they travel to Greenville, Pennsylvania to compete at the Thiel College Mel Berry Duals. BW will wrestle both host Thiel and Mercyhurst (Pa.) North East. The next home match is an OAC dual versus Muskingum University on Tuesday, Jan. 31 in the Rudolph Ursprung Gymnasium in the Lou Higgins Center at 7:30 p.m.
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