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Wrestling gets its Cinderella story

Program earns first conference championship in 45 years
 
By Ashley Wiehe 
From the Spring 2016 Cadets Magazine

It could be no less explained than as a Cinderella story. It’s a story that has been building for the last couple of years under the direction of Coach Jamie Jones and the lead of now-senior Zach Davis. And this year, they finally got their glass slipper. 

“I don’t know what it was, but this, missing the SAC, has been gnawing at me since becoming responsible for the program,” said Jones who took over the team 12 years ago. “It feels pretty good to have it now, and I was especially glad we could do this for our fantastic senior.”

The program earned its first two conference championships through the NEIAC in 1967 and 1971. The team came close to the SAC title in 1986 when they tied with Snider, but the program hasn’t seen that height in many years. 

“It’s been our battle cry for the past five years. We knew it was an important milestone for the program,” Jones said. “We felt if we could get over this ‘hump,’ not only would it be something for this team to hang its hat on, but that it might springboard the program and set a precedent for teams to come that they are deserving of success and can achieve great things too.”

The win this year was far from easy. Jones said that it was a matter of changing the culture in the room — bringing back a mindset of winning. 

“At some point there had to be a disconnect that made these boys feel like they can’t or aren’t supposed to win,” Jones said. “I remember in the first few years in the room that the guys were satisfied qualifying for regionals. I think they were setting the bar too low. This program is too good to settle for regionals.” 

And the SAC win was just the start. For two years in a row now, senior Zach Davis has qualified for state after dominating runs at the local levels. 

“From the beginning of the season I had one goal and that to do as good or better then I had done in my previous years,” Davis said who trained with coaches at Indiana Tech outside of practice. “Knowing that I made it to state a second year in a row brought me the satisfaction I was hoping to feel.”

The program thanks its success to those coaches who came before, and this year, they honored one of those coaches, Ed LeBeau, with the naming of the Ed LeBeau LSAA Open Tournament. 

“He has been a great mentor to us all,” Jones said who took his team to meet LeBeau after Senior Night. “He’s given and done so much for this program. I hope in doing this that Coach can see how much we all love and appreciate him.”

The program is graduating five seniors this year, but Jones feels confident that with a strong incoming class, they can repeat the success of this year.  

“The amount of conditioning, discipline, sacrifice, injuries and emotion this team, especially its seniors, have been through is commendable,” he said. “Our practices can be grueling, and they put it all out there every day. I hope they know how much I admire them for their efforts. It was truly an honor being able to achieve the school’s first SAC wrestling title this year with them."