The Ouachita Tigers’ wrestling team competed Saturday, January 28 at the Golden Norseman tournament at Northeast Oklahoma A&M in Miami, Okla. Tyler Mann and Austin Hailey finished third overall in their respective weight classes, and they also led the Tigers in scoring.
Hailey, a sophomore major in accounting and personal finance from Neosho, Mo., was the Tigers’ top performer on Saturday, scoring 14.5 team points. Hailey won two matches by technical fall, one by major decision and two by fall, his second coming in the third place match. Hailey’s only loss of the day came on a two-point decision determined in the match’s final seconds. Mann, a junior kinesiology major from Little Rock, finished with 12 team points and won his third-place match.
“It felt like another day at the office honestly. We go through so many competitions, so we just go out there and try our best each time,” Mann said.
“It’s pretty nice to string a good performance together before going into postseason. It’s nice to get third and get our confidence up before going into super regionals,” Hailey said.
Wrestling is one of those sports that requires plenty of preparation leading up to the matches. Athletes have to constantly make sure they are eating the right foods and keeping track of the amount of calories they eat to ensure they keep the weight required for their specific weight class. While Hailey and Mann both shined brightly in Oklahoma, they both noted the preparation leading up to the tournament was by no means easy.
Mann competes in the 165-pound weight class, and Hailey competes in the 197-pound weight class.
While the preparation is difficult for almost all wrestlers, how each wrestler goes about preparing for his match varies on his weight class.
For Hailey, preparing is more mental.
“I would say wrestling is a lot of a mental sport. Not many people can handle wrestling,” Hailey said.
He also discussed his preparation for a match through a day to day basis.
“We train every day for two and a half hours, and we will go lift sometimes. Basically that’s our routine. You can’t eat as much as everyone else. We probably eat healthier than anyone else on campus,” Hailey said.
He also noted that match day plays a huge part in your preparation as well. There are things each wrestler does on match day to ensure they are the right weight for their weight class.
“On the day we leave for a competition, some people are different, but for me, I can’t eat the whole day. I have to wait until the next morning. I still get a workout in on competition day as well, and later that night before I go to bed, I have to go and run on a treadmill with layers upon layers of clothes on,” Hailey said.
Mann, too, noted the tough preparation and the amount of things he has to put his body through in order to make sure he is at the correct weight for his weight class.
“He [Hailey] doesn’t eat when he gets close to competition time, but with me I like to stay about three to four pounds over until the day of. On the day of, I just work it out. So I get in an extra workout and get warmed up at the same time before it’s time for me to weigh in,” Mann said.
Choosing a main sport to compete in can sometimes be a difficult decision, but it can also be an easy one. For Mann and Hailey, choosing wrestling as their main sport wasn’t a difficult decision at all.
“I chose to wrestle because I was bad at baseball, honestly. I was really bad at every other sport, and as a kid I was really into WWE. My dad wanted me to do it because he thought it would help my confidence and physical fitness as a kid, but once you get into it, you get passionate, and the rest is history,” Mann said.
For Hailey, he decided football wasn’t the sport for him, which led him to wrestle.
“I wasn’t big or fast enough for football. I picked wrestling over football simply because I was just better at it,” Hailey said.
Wrestling can sometimes be very difficult to compete in simply because many high schools (especially in the south) don’t have the sport. It varies from state to state. Hailey mentioned that the sport is very popular in the state of Missouri, probably second behind football. In Mann and Hailey’s case, both of their schools carried the sport and provided them with another option.
Both Mann and Hailey are looking to keep their momentum going in their upcoming match against Drury University before competing in the NCAA Super Regionals. Their match against Drury will take place today at 5 p.m. in the Sturgis Physical Education Center.
By Marcellus Hill, sports writer