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.