A high school wrestling season can be a long and challenging time for student-athletes. For the Groton Indians, the culture, rising young talent, and a taste of success has put the team in a position for great postseason victory. The head coach of the Indians, Greg Rotunda, opened the doors to his program’s wrestling room as his team prepares to make a run at an IAC Small School Championship in 2019.
MS: Every program has an umbrella philosophy on what is expected inside the wrestling room. What is that idea for your program?
GR: Our umbrella philosophy is hard work in the wrestling room. You get back what you put into the sport. If you work hard in the wrestling room, the results will show on the mat.
MS: What is expected out of each wrestler when representing Groton, whether at a dual meet or a tournament?
GR: Our wrestlers are expected to represent our school by winning or losing with good sportsmanship. They are expected to be giving their best effort and showing respect for opponents, officials, and coaches of opposing teams.
MS: Prior to the new year, you’ve picked up 12 wins and a pair of top-five dual tournament finishes. What have you noticed from your team that has led to such a strong start?
GR: I have noticed that our team has a no-quit, gritty attitude. They wrestle a full six minutes and give 100 percent. The difference between winning and losing dual meets isn’t always the number of wins. It’s sometimes about the kids fighting a tough opponent and giving up a three-point decision rather than a major, tech fall, or pin. That is the team aspect of wrestling that I see from this group. They have a lot of pride.
MS: What are you hoping to see out of your team with a late-season individual tournament, the Cazenovia Invitational?
GR: We will not have our full squad going at Cazenovia. I put a couple of extra tournaments in the schedule this year so some wrestlers can sit out a few of them. I do expect the ones that do go to represent us well. We have several freshmen that are earning the respect of the upperclassmen already. They are a very tough group. I expect to have a good finish at the IAC tournament on Jan. 19 when we will have our full roster going.
MS: Do you encourage your wrestlers to go and watch matches at Ithaca, Cortland, and Cornell? If so, what do you hope they take away from watching college matches?
GR: I do encourage them all to watch a match at any college level. I would love to schedule a match before a Cornell match, but it seems that our schedule just doesn’t mesh. If they happen to catch a match, I want them to notice how the kids at the next level set up their moves and tie things together. I want them to appreciate the ease at which they do it.
MS: Who is the most influential leader in the room, and what does he offer the team?
GR: I would have to say that the most influential leader in our room is Reese Lockwood. He is always helping the other kids when he can. We also have a great group of coaches including, Jeff Brockway, Allen Raychek, and Brian Nagley. None of our success would be possible without them.
MS: Looking at your season to this point, what are your takeaways from your team’s success?
GR: I am extremely pleased with how we have made out this season. We have a lot of young guys that are performing well and a mix of juniors and seniors that make us a very tough team. Unlike years past, we have a mostly full roster. We are only forfeiting two weight classes to a full roster. With our roster, I feel confident that we will win more often than we lose. I told the kids coming into the season that anything short of an IAC Small School championship would be a disappointment. We are one win away from achieving our goal with a win over Moravia Jan. 9.
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