Wrestling Prepares for an Exciting Postseason

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The University of Indianapolis wrestling team is preparing for playoffs in the upcoming week. The team commenced their Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament on Feb.18 against Maryville, according to UIndy Athletics, marking the beginning of postseason matches. Head Coach Jason Warthan has been leading the team for 15 years now and said wrestling is unique because the regular season has little effect on postseason. 

Everyone in Division II wrestling gets the chance to compete at super regionals, Warthan said, and then based off of those results, the top three in each weight class go to the NCAA Division II Championship (nationals). The regular season results can help determine where wrestlers are seeded at regionals, according to Warthan, but they have little power to change anything. Due to this, Warthan said a wrestler could have a bad regular season but still make it to nationals in the end. This means that although the wrestling team is having their conference tournament, the results of this match will have little influence on the postseason as a whole, with the exception of seeding the team for regionals. 

“Your regular season determines your seed at the regional tournament in each weight class,” Warthan said, “But you could have somebody that has a losing record or didn’t have a good regular season that could make it to the national tournament, so a little different than other sports.”

Transfer athlete and graduate student Trey Sizemore during a dual during the Midwest Classic on Dec. 17. The team began their Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament on Feb.18 against Maryville, marking the start of their postseason matches for the 2024 season.
Photo contributed by UIndy Athletics/Jacob Walton

When it comes time for regionals in the near future, Warthan said the 10 best athletes from each weight class will be taken to represent the team. After that, the top three wrestlers from each weight division advance to nationals. Warthan said the difference between regular and postseason is that for regular season, there is more room to assemble a lineup based on the opposing team and exposing their weaknesses. In the postseason, the team’s goal is to have their best athletes competing and qualifying for nationals. According to Warthan, the main goal for postseason is making sure the athletes are peaking at the right time and stay as healthy as possible. 

When it comes to training, Warthan said the team adjusts their workouts depending on how far into the season they are. As they approach closer to postseason, the team will dial back their workouts in order to keep everyone healthy, according to Warthan. In addition to this, the team tries to individualize their training right before postseason. 

“But, just like any other sport, you’re trying to dial back the workload a little bit,” Warthan said, “Wrestling’s a little different because guys have to make weight.”

This means that the athletes must maintain certain weights depending on their weight class. There are a lot of variables when it comes to wrestling, so Warthan said it is a challenge making sure the team maintains their discipline.

“They’re used to losing a certain amount of weight at practice so they have to be a little bit more disciplined with the calories that they’re taking in and be disciplined with what they’re fueling their body with, the amount of rest they’re getting, staying hydrated, that sort of thing. So it’s a little bit of a puzzle to kind of put together there.”

Warthan said as he has gotten more experience as head coach, he has gotten better at adjusting the team’s workouts depending on how far into the season they are. He said at first, he would focus on how hard the team was working, but now he is able to better differentiate between what the team needs to be doing and when they should be doing it.

“There’s a difference between working as hard as you can and getting better,” Warthan said. “So, just kind of watching and making sure that our focus is in the right place, and we’re ready to peak at the right time.”

One of the athletes he hopes will peak at the right time is Trey Sizemore, a graduate student on the team who transferred from the University of Illinois. Even though he is new to the team this year, Sizemore said the team has a strong bond. 

Trey Sizemore after winning a match against the Drury Panthers on Jan. 26 in the Ruth Lilly Fitness Center. As the wrestling team approaches postseason matches, practices will start to lighten up but there is still a strong emphasis on technique and conditioning.
Photo contributed by UIndy Athletics/Jacob Walton

“I think we have a really good team culture,” Sizemore said. “Everyone on the team is pretty close, and a lot of teams I’ve been a part of growing up kind of had some cliques, but it feels like everyone on this team is pretty conjoined and tight with each other, a pretty tight-knit group.”

Sizemore says his biggest focus going into the postseason is staying healthy. According to Sizemore, as the team approaches playoffs, they focus more on technique and keeping their conditioning up. This means different things depending on the athlete, but for wrestlers especially, it is not about changing anything but just perfecting instead, Sizemore said. 

 “Everything you’ve done leading up to this is to prepare you for nationals, so it’s kind of hard actually getting better other than some small tweaks to your techniques and stuff like that,” Sizemore said. “I’m not going to change my wrestling style right before postseason or anything, so I would say back off a little bit, maybe a little bit shorter practices and just kind of try to dial in.”

Sizemore, along with the rest of the team, is excited for what is to come in the postseason. He is looking forward to spending time with the team and getting a chance to wrestle in front of Greyhound fans at a higher level. The wrestling team will commence their Super Regionals on Mar. 2 which will be hosted at UIndy

“I’m just looking forward to it,” Sizemore said. “We’ve got a good group of guys. I think we should shock some people this postseason.”

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