Open-mat night keeping rust off grapplers
Coach DeWitt makes Monday mat day
During the summer it's easy for an athlete to throw a football, find a basketball court or step onto the baseball diamond in an effort to keep the edge on their game.
However, if the athlete happens to be a wrestler, things become a little bit harder.
That's where Cardinal wrestling coach Bill DeWitt comes in.
Ever since the school year ended, the doors to the Eudora High School wrestling room have swung wide open every Monday in an effort to get those who want to keep wrestling a chance to do just that.
"We just want them to have the opportunity to get in the wrestling rooms," DeWitt said. "I don't require them to be here, but we just want them to have a place to go."
The "open-mat" Mondays have, in the coach's eyes, been a success. Every meeting has drawn anywhere from eight to 12 wrestlers, which can be considered a good gathering considering the outside factors that can influence the meetings' attendance.
"We have a pretty good turn out," DeWitt said. "With all of the competition going on, I think it's been pretty good."
The competition the head coach talks of is the same competition other coaches must deal with during the summer.
An array of camps, leagues and summer practices take a bite out of the ranks of every team that is trying to get some work in.
For the last four Mondays, the "open-mat" meetings have been up against the seven-on-seven football drills taking place at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
And those practices have taken up the time of a few of the wrestlers the coach would like to have had on the mats.
"Some of the guys like Miles Cleveland are off with other obligations," DeWitt said. "I would like to see him and some of those guys in here, but they have other things going and that's alright."
Even though some of his wrestlers, like senior-to-be Cleveland, are unable to attend, other wrestlers have come to take advantage of the summer wrestling opportunities.
"We've had some of the core wrestlers like Matt McPeek, Kyle Scrimsher and James Bruner come in," DeWitt said. "It's good to see them in here."
Besides the mere fact of getting some wrestling in before the school year starts, the Monday meetings do have some goals.
The meetings are free of restrictions. There are no drills and no dress codes, and it is this "free-style" atmosphere the coach feels is important for his wrestlers.
"There is zero structure to these meetings," DeWitt said. "We just want to keep the mat sense fresh for them. We just want them thinking about wrestling."
And thinking about wrestling today may play into the success for the Cardinals in the near future.
"Last year we finished strong. We had a solid season," DeWitt said. "We want to pick up in November where we finished off in March."
The coach also wants his wrestlers to use the Monday meetings to get ready for the upcoming camp at Eudora High School.
"We want the guys to be ready for the camp," DeWitt said. "During the camps we will implement a little more structure. We'll do the drills and try and introduce some of the systems."
While the drills will be saved for a more organized situation, the open-mat sessions continue, hopefully, during a summer crowded with other sports, to put the thought of wrestling back in some of the wrestlers' minds.
The Monday open mat sessions continue throughout the summer and begin at 6 p.m. The wrestling camp takes place July 18 to 21 at Eudora High School, 2203 Church St.