By Collin Frazier
As with many other sports last spring, COVID-19 ruined chances for teams to reach the top prize: a national title. This applies to the University of Findlay wrestling team and the three athletes that would have competed. Head Coach Shawn Nelson says the situation is sad.
“I think it was very disappointing for the three qualifiers, especially our one senior [Devin Rogers],” Nelson said in an email interview. “The guys were at the top of their game and I thought they all had a really good chance of becoming an All-American. They just asked me a lot of questions that I had no answer for at the time which was even more frustrating for them.”
Looking back at the beginning of last season, the Roughnecks were relatively young. However, even with the setbacks, Nelson is pleased with the development of both old and new Roughnecks.
“The young guys are developing just fine. We have not really had a chance to show leadership with this crazy year just trying to make some head way through it all,” Nelson added. “I do have a couple seniors that redshirted last year that are back so that helps a lot.”
With more than a dozen freshmen joining the Roughnecks, there is room for the team chemistry to develop, which has been looking good so far, according to Nelson.
“Team chemistry is good. We brought in 13 freshmen, so we have a good mix of older and younger kids and seem to be getting along very well at this point,” Nelson said. “Especially with COVID-19, it seems they have bonded.”
With wrestling being an extremely close-contact sport, the risk for COVID-19 is high. Ironically, Nelson explained that the safety precautions are not too different from how it was before COVID-19.
“As far as what we can do to combat COVID-19 and wrestling being a close contact sport, the guys have been extra careful with hygiene,” Nelson stated. “But the funny thing is, we have always had to clean our mats with special cleaners and use products that help keep the close contact between the wrestlers safe. We have special soap that they use in hospitals, so for us not much has changed in terms of what we already did to stay safe.”
Coach Nelson says he and his team are simply happy to have a season.
“We are most looking forward to competing and hoping that we even have some kind of season. With everyone getting a free year.”