Florida A&M’s wrestling team agreed that hard work pays off. Members on the squad said they are ready to knock down all competition at the upcoming National Collegiate Wresting Association Regional Tournament in Georgia this Saturday. The tournament will be held at Kennesaw State University, 20 miles north of Atlanta.
Matthew Lumpkins, 20, a member of the team, said the team is pumped.
“We are as ready as we are going to get,” said Lumpkins, a Fort Lauderdale native. “As a team we have been practicing hard on our techniques and game plans.
Currently, the Rattlers are ranked 4th in the Southern Eastern Conference and ranked 35 out of 112 teams in the nation.
The FAMU team is the only HBCU in the NCWA, which participates in the leagues largest region. There are a total of 28 teams in the SEC.
Under the leadership of head coach Abdul Sharif and head administrator Thomas White the 18-member squad is prepared to trample teams like the University of Central Florida, University of Florida, and Florida State University.
“I feel confident in the team, the past practices have been very intense. They are well prepared and are more confident in their techniques and moves on the mat,” said Sharif.
Other than the competition on the mat, the Rattlers are constantly battling financial constraints.
The team is fundraising for travel and lodging to attend future regional and national competitions.
The fundraisers include raffles for two tickets to Universal Studios, the team has been selling pizza and water around campus.
“The fundraising helps us learn how to work for the things we really want. The need for money pushes us together as a team and helps us develop individually ” said Joshua Cannon, senior physical education student from Atlanta.
Sharif still emphasizes the importance of focusing on school first even though the Rattlers have such a big competition coming up. The coach also expects the players to do very well in the tournament.
Highly ranked in the nation, players Lumpkins and Cannon both are amongst the players on the team who have outstanding GPA’s.
“I want them to succeed in all the battles in school and on the mat, “said Sharif.
The Rattlers are no strangers to regional competitions. Over the last five years the team has placed top five in regional and top 25 in national competitions.
Depending on how well they do on Saturday against their opponents, they could move on to national competitions.
The NCWA National Tournament is scheduled during the week of spring break. The tournament is a three-day event that will be held at Hampton University in Virginia starting March 12-14.