Buckeyes in the Crosshairs: Hofstra Coach Rob Anspach

Curt Heinrichs's picture
February 14, 2014 at 12:28a

On Sunday and Monday, the Buckeyes will play host to some of the top teams in the country when they hold the NWCA National Duals. The Bucks will take on Hofstra in the opening round. I had a chance to speak with Hofstra's Head Coach Rob Anspach about the match with the Buckeyes. 

Curt Heinrichs- You guys are coming to Columbus to take on Ohio State in the NWCA Duals. You wrestled for and coached with Coach Ryan at Hofstra. With that history, does this match really stand out to you as a special one in your career?

Rob Anspach- I don’t know that I would say it’s special. Every time I see Tom, I enjoy talking to him. With that said, we’re both pretty competitive and so when the match is going on, that’s what it’s about. It’s about Hofstra vs Ohio State and hoping that my team performs to the best of their ability.


CH- Looking at your team and your coaching staff, your staff is comprised of some young guys who’ve reached the All-American podium. Does the fact that you have assistants who will wrestle with your team every day help you with recruiting?

RA- When you’re talking to some of the top high schoolers, you always get the question of who their training partners will be. We’re a small, private school, so we aren’t going to have 40 guys on our roster. We have 20 guys on the roster, so we have to have coaches who can get on the mats and push them every day. That definitely influences kids, knowing they’ll have coaches who are their size. Coach (Zach) Tannelli wrestles with all of the lightweight guys up to 157 lbs while Coach (Dan) Vallimont wrestles with anyone above and beyond that.

CH- When you get your team to an event like this, being in the half of the bracket with Minnesota, do you encourage your team to watch and learn from guys like Tony Nelson or do you keep them focused on the task at hand?

RA- I think any time we’re at tournaments and you’re watching some of the best guys in the country wrestle, whether it be at the Southern Scuffle and you watch guys like David Taylor or Ed Ruth wrestle, you need to be careful about talking up guys too much. You don’t want to say “hey, watch this guy” and then have your guy end up on the mat with that guy. That puts a doubt in their mind. You want to watch certain guys because you like the way they attack, but you want to be careful not to make that guy look unbeatable.

CH- Your team is stacked with lightweights and several of them are ranked as does Ohio State. Are there any matches against the Buckeyes that you feel are key for your team?

RA- I think any time that we are matching up our strength with their strength is great. 125 is going to be pretty competitive with their guy a little higher ranked. Both guys are going to try and secure a spot at nationals. Any time you’re facing a 2-time national champion (Logan Stieber), you have a real challenge ahead of you. It’s going to be a great test for our guy, who is ranked pretty high. We’re going to see where he’s at after that match. We’re going to be competitive and these matches are going to set the tone for down the road as well. We want to prove to young guys that you can be competitive here. You can wrestle at Hofstra and you can beat guys from Ohio State or Oklahoma or Iowa. You can be a top competitor in a Hofstra singlet. That’s an important message for guys that may be redshirting and guys that may be looking at coming to Hofstra. We want to prove that we are ready for that competition. 

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smith5568's picture

Thanks Curt, I always enjoy hearing a little about the wrestling bucks. Also, a somewhat random question, but what are your thoughts on moving wrestling from the summer to the winter Olympics? There are significantly fewer events in the winter Olympics and wrestling is a winter sport. I could see the switch helping wrestling gain more exposure. 

Curt Heinrichs's picture

Great question Smith. I haven't heard any buzz about switching wrestling to the winter Olympics, but it may be on the table among the higher-ups. 

Wrestling is a winter sport in the US, but among the wrestling elite around the world, it's a year-round sport. With how hard these guys work year round, I think they should be rewarded for being in the Olympics by going to the Summer Games where they can go somewhere like Greece or Rio or London rather than Torino or Sochi or Vancouver. 

Plus, if wrestling stays in the Olympics, that means they can mingle with the beach volleyball girls when competition ends. Think about it. Speaking of beach volleyball, the Indians invited Misty May-Treanor's husband to camp, which means there's a chance that she'll be in the stands sitting by Nick Swisher's wife. Win-Win. 

I agree that wrestling would liven up the Winter Olympics, which I find to be less interesting than the Summer Games, but that means they'd need to build or utilize another facility because they're not going to use an ice rink for wrestling. 

+2 HS
smith5568's picture

Yeah, I understand that when you are that level of competition a sport is not longer really "seasonal" and becomes an all year process. I would think that more exposure and increased popularity for the sport would be more important to the wrestlers than a fun location.  

Fair point regarding mingling with the beach volleyball players, but have you seen some of the skiers and snowboarders from nordic countries and the women's curlers? They give the beach volleyball girls a run for their money.

Also, I don't think building a separate facility for wrestling would be too costly. Or maybe they could repurpose one of the ice rinks once skating is finished.  

Curt Heinrichs's picture

I agree with the exposure aspect. I'm all for getting more people into wrestling, but I'm not sure that being in the winter Olympics is the way to go about it. I'd think that talking with NBC to air more wrestling coverage on main channels rather than showing hours upon hours of gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, crew, etc would be beneficial. 

I think during the London games, wrestling's medal rounds were televised on some premium channels. If I were to make a bet, I'd guess that more people in the United States were former wrestlers than were former gymnasts and rowers (crewists?) combined. I think you'd want to cater to the masses. Gymnastics has been ingrained in the Olympics and so now people are watching things that they pretend to understand ("Oh, she'll get a deduction because she didn't tuck her tiny chin on that ridiculously fast flip") and it's just accepted. I'm not for that business. 

Getting back to your point, I think most people think snow and ice when they think winter Olympics. Additionally, basketball is a winter sport in the States (but the NBA extends to June or July or something ridiculous) but is in the Summer Games. 

smith5568's picture

I had thought about basketball, but the powers that be at the NBA would never allow players to skip a few weeks in the middle of the season to play in the Olympics. Wrestling does not have the same issues in switching as basketball and the NBA.