ADRIAN, Mich. — The women's wrestling team will have its biggest test of the season when it heads to one of the oldest tournaments in the country at Missouri Valley on Sunday, Nov. 18.
The tournament features 21 teams from across the country and includes many that the Bulldogs have not competed against this season.
"Our goal is continuously improve so we can peak at the WCWA National Championships in February," said Head Coach Cliff Cushard. "If we can wrestle our matches, take it to the opponent and keep high levels of activity throughout each match, we will achieve that goal. We will certainly see some higher level U.S. competition at this tournament and it will provide us a good yardstick to judge where we are now."
This will be the last competition for the Bulldogs before the team takes a break for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Cushard said his young team is coming together at the right time and adjusting well to the marathon that is the college season.
"Our younger wrestlers are settling into freestyle very nicely," he said. "The game has slowed down for them now and they are really getting it. Our older wrestlers have continued to stretch beyond their comfort zones and are adding new pieces to their game."
Adrian has two ranked wrestlers in Maggie Elliott and MacKenzie Matta and the team is ranked No. 20 in the WCWA rankings. However, those are the pre-season rankings and freshman are not allowed to be ranked in that poll. There are several freshmen that may find themselves in the next rankings based on their season so far. Still, the Bulldogs have had their share of success early in the season.
Last weekend all nine of Adrian's wrestler placed at the Ryerson Open in Toronto.
"This team is the best one we have had here at Adrian," Cushard said. "There is no comparison to where we are now in the season with past years — in activity level, attitude, mindset, effort, training and results — all are higher than with any previous teams. We are building something special here and it shows."
Cushard said it doesn't matter who his team wrestles. "Bulldog wrestling is about giving consistent effort no matter where, when and against anyone," he said.
The wrestlers will get a chance to experience history at Missouri Valley. The team has been around for more than 15 years and is one of the original women's wrestling programs. There are banners, posters, plaques and Hall of Fame members displayed throughout the school's facilities.
"There is a real sense of history there that we don't have yet at Adrian," Cushard said. "I can't wait to have that obvious sense of history here at Adrian College. We are creating history right now and future Bulldogs will see it when they walk through our facility. Having a sense of your place in the greater scheme of things can be a good way to center yourself on what you are doing. This team will make its mark."
Wrestling starts at 9 a.m. Central Standard Time.