With the winter athletic season underway, the Pacific men’s wrestling team is looking forward to continuing their success from last year.
In the 2012-13 season, the Boxers took first in six dual meets.
Perhaps most impressive victories were over Loras College, Baker University and Southern Oregon, all nationally ranked.
The stellar performances in the regular season matches took three of Pacific’s own.
Now senior Bruce Balcita, junior Eric Harder and junior Ryan Baxter went to the National Collegiate Athletic Association West Regional Tournament.
Last season, senior Caleb Malychewski advanced as far as the NCAA Division III Championships after collecting 30 victories along the way.
Harder and Malychewski are starting this season with national rankings in their weight class.
Malychewski has earned a No. 10 spot while Harder is listed among eight contenders according to D3Wrestle.com’s preseason rankings.
Although impressive, not one of these wrestlers are completely satisfied with their accomplishments last year.
Their improvements are what Baxter hopes will carry everyone through a successful season this year.
“As far as the team goes, everyone has an improved mindset and is tougher mentally than last year,” said Baxter. “Another big improvement that the rest of the team has made is raising the level of focus displayed in the practice room and in competition; we no longer have guys not paying attention or not on the same page. Now everyone is focused and ready to win.”
With all of his hard work in the offseason, Baxter aspires to be an All-American.
“My biggest challenge will be maintaining consistency throughout the season. To be successful I have to maintain a high level of intensity in practice and in competition,” he said. “The same can be said for the team as a whole, we have to stay focused as a group and never take our eyes off of the prize.”
Even though the team has only been practicing officially for a few weeks, Baxter feels their hard work has taken them farther than what the calendar actually says.
“Our team had a good preseason this year, we started early and got a big jump on the season. Unlike the last few years, I feel like we were almost in mid-season form on the first day of practice,” said Baxter. “The season is a grind, so staying mentally tough is very important to the success of the team, I feel like we have the tools to do this though.”