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|FEATURE: American Univ. and its star Josh Glenn aim to make a big statement in the post season|
By Erin Phipps USA Wrestling
American University's wrestling team has high expectations for the 102nd Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships at Lehigh Univ., Mar. 4-5.
And so does their No. 1 ranked athlete in the nation at 184 lbs., Josh Glenn.
"My goal is to be a three time national champion," said Glenn. "I want to win it this year and the next two years. That's what I'm reaching for."
Head Coach Mark Cody's ambitions are no less high. After four years of rebuilding AU's wrestling program, Cody is ready to see his team rise to prominence at this year's championships.
"Our goal as a team is to win the EIWA. We have a chance to do very well this year," said Cody. "It's realistic if everyone wrestles to their potential."
This wasn't the case in 2002, when AU was reevaluating its wrestling program, which was in danger of being discontinued. However, financial support from alumni and the wrestling community helped to save and reinvigorate the program. When Cody came on board that same year, he had the challenge of trying to attract qualified athletes and provide enough scholarship money for them to come to AU.
"We started with seven guys in the program," said Cody. "I was building up the program and we only had five scholarships and it cost $40,000 to go here."
Cody knew that in order to grow a program that would be as strong as the best in the nation, like those in Oklahoma and Minnesota, he would have to bring qualified and disciplined athletes onto the team.
"I was told by my colleagues to build up my numbers," Cody said. "If I did that with no impact guys, it would take a while to make a statement."
Cody's recruiting efforts paid off when he signed Glenn, who was ranked No. 4 nationally while still in high school. Among the other rising stars that Cody signed was Adam LoPiccolo, who was ranked No. 2 nationally by Amateur Wrestling News in high school, and Muzaffar Abdurakhmanov, a native of Uzbekistan who competed at an American junior college. Abdurakhmanov has had an impressive record while at AU, ranking as high as No. 4 nationally at 165 lbs.
"I just had to put some big money into those guys and explain that they'd be pioneers in this program," said Cody.
Glenn came into prominence as a freshman at AU, when he was named EIWA's Freshman of the year. However, the achievement fell short of Glenn's expectations.
"I guess it wasn't the accomplishment I was going for," said Glenn. "My goal was to win it. I didn't achieve my goal, but it made me work harder."
Now as a sophomore, Glenn is the first No.1 ranking wrestler on the national level in AU's history, an accomplishment that shows that marks his progress towards being the national champion.
"It shows that I'm getting closer to my goal. It's a milestone and I'm getting closer and closer," Glenn said. "It makes me work harder."
Last year, AU had its first All-American in Daniel Waters. This year, Glenn wants to win it all.
In order to realize his ambitions, Glenn trains competitively during the off-season, a trait that Cody says is the key to Glenn's success.
"We really stress the off-season. It's the most important season and Josh bought into that right away," Cody said. "Everybody trained in the off season, but I don't think anyone trained as hard as he did, and it got him where he is right now."
Glenn adds that the team's off-season workout routines are typically short and usually include drills, matches and working on technique.
"We go hard to get to the point right away," said Glen.
Glenn will have the opportunity to prove just how crucial his off-season training and his dedication to the sport are as AU's wrestling team prepares for the EIWA Championships, and then the NCAA Championships two weeks later.
"He stays after practice and works on technique. I've never seen him walk out of the room when practice is over," said Cody. "He probably is the only one who consistently does it and does it with a purpose."
With all of the excitement of the EIWA Championships, Cody is making sure that his team is getting enough rest and rejuvenation to compete at their best level.
"As far as preparation now, we just need to get [Glenn] rested and ready to go, as well as the rest of the team," said Cody.
Prior to any bouts, Glenn chooses to read books in preparation for the match. His favorite genre is military books. His current favorite is Dick Couch's The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident.
"Before I go to the match, I like to relax. I'm going to have plenty of time to get worked up before the match, and the reading helps calm me down," said Glenn.
Glenn is known for his relentless pursuit of pinning his opponent. He ended this year's regular wrestling season with a 27-1 record, winning 17 of his matches with a pin.
"Every match I go for a pin-it's the ultimate way to dominate my opponent," said Glenn. "If I go into it thinking I'll dominate, I can at least win. If I go into it thinking I want to win, I could lose. That's how I look at it."
The first step for Glenn comes at Lehigh Univ. at the EIWA Championships. Two weeks later, Glenn plans to make history as AU's first NCAA champion.