Tuesday, January 1, 2013
- by B.B. Branton
Chattanooga native Zach Watson likes to make statements on the wrestling mat.
In high school, he made five statements (state titles) to be exact.
Now a freshman at the University of Virginia, the Chattanooga native wants to make a statement at this week’s Southern Scuffle.
“I am redshirting this season and am pretty much off everyone’s radar so my goal is to come here and surprise some seeded wrestlers,” said Watson.
“The expectations (from most people) are not high for me to succeed at the Scuffle so I have nothing to lose.”
The Southern Scuffle - which brings most of the nation's best collegiate wrestlers to one arena - is today and Wednesday (Jan. 1-2) at UTC ‘s McKenzie Arena as Watson will compete unattached (10-3 on the season) at 133 pounds in this morning’s round of 32. The brackets will be set after this morning's weigh-ins.
While the personable light weight was dominate in the prep ranks since the eighth grade for the Red Raiders, he knows to have the same success in college is at a much higher level, physically and mentally.
“The mental aspect of college wrestling is probably the biggest challenge for me so far,” said Watson
“You have to be mentally ready to go hard in practice every day and then for seven minutes every time you walk on the mat for a match,” he stated.
Watson has a top level mentor in Matt Snyder – seeded third at 125 at the Scuffle – who is helping him through wrestling’s mine field known as being a freshman.
“Matt and I have similar funky styles and get into some crazy scrambles in practice.”
If Watson can carry his classroom success – 3.7 grade point average at Baylor and the same in his first semester at UVa – to the mental aspect of wrestling then his college career will be graded a A.
“One of the biggest differences between high school and college is the large lecture courses in college,” said Watson whose five year study of Kinesiology fits with a redshirt year followed by four years of varsity eligibility with the spring of 2017 as a graduation target date.
“In college, no one is looking over your shoulder every day to see if your work is done. You are pretty much on your own and are expected to do the work.”
Watson points to excellent academic preparation he learned at Baylor as a key to doing well at a top level academic university such a Virginia.
“In high school, we had tests on a regular basis, so keeping up with your studies each day was a must,” Watson said.
“For example, in my sociology class this fall, my grade was determined by the mid-term test, a paper and a class debate at the end. So one can be fooled into believing you have all semester to get the work done and that it just not the case.”
And neither can high level college wrestlers believe they can coast to wins.
“It’s continuous, non-stop action in college with little time to relax,” said Watson, “and that is so different from high school where you have time to set up a move and then plan what you will do next.”
With the top three teams in the nation (Nos.1-3 Penn State, Oklahoma State and Minnesota) competing in this week’s Scuffle and a field which has 24 All-Americans, including seven NCAA champs, no one believes they can coast to a single win.
For Watson, the only time he plans to relax is late Wednesday night with a few wins in his column and a possible Southern Scuffle medal around his neck.
Scuffle Tickets: Tickets are on sale at the McKenzie Arena Box Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627) or online at GoMocs.com. Tickets are $5 per day for youth and $15 per day for adults. Doors open at 9:00 a.m. (E.D.T.) on Jan. 1
10 a.m. - round of 32 and pigtails
3:30 p.m. - Round of 16
6 p.m. - Championship Quarterfinals
10 a.m. - Consolations start
Noon - Championship Semis
6 p.m. - Finals (places 1-8)
Jan. 2 – Maclellan Gym - UTC
D-II Middle/East Region Matches
2 p.m. – McCallie vs. Father Ryan ... Baylor vs. MBA
3:30 p.m. or so – McCallie vs. MBA … Baylor vs. Father Ryan
Note: matches will be finished prior to the Southern Scuffle Finals at 6 p.m. at McKenzie Arena
This is the first round of matches to determine seeding for the D-II state duals
McCallie vs. Baylor and Father Ryan vs. MBA are later in the season.
This is the fifth year that this true round robin has been in place.
contact B.B. Branton at firstname.lastname@example.org