Wrestlers excel in national contest

Florida A&M University’s wrestling team took third place in the National Collegiate Wresting Association Regional Tournament this past Saturday at Kennesaw State University.

This is the first time the team has placed third in regional competitions since they started in 2002. Out of the twenty teams in the Southern Eastern Conference they faced the Rattlers still came out victorious.

“A victory was spoken into existence in our talk before the tournament. It was our time to represent the university and defeat all rivals,” said head coach Abdul Sharif.

Execution is exactly what the wrestlers did as they played an average of six matches within their individual weight classes. These hard core matches last for a total of seven straight minutes.

Sharif said he motivated his team by calling the competition “ducks.” Before matches he asked wrestlers what they do to ducks and they would respond by saying, “We throw them in the oven and cook them.”

“All I ask of the team is to give it 100%. Even if they lose, it’s only at that moment, and I still tell them good game,” said Sharif.        

Matthew Lumpkins, Saunders Hamilton, Joshua Cannon, Dominique Cole, Frewd Meltinord, Ronald Johnson, Brandon Jenning, and Samantha Wong placed in their weight classes.

Hamilton, 24, a team member said he was happy to have the opportunity to represent the team, coaches and school. Hamilton placed 1st in the 141 pound weight class.

“I’m thankful for my coaches, they maintained faith in me despite the fact that I didn’t do that well in the season,” said Hamilton, a New York native  

These eight players will move on to the NCWA National Tournament. The tournament is a three-day event that will be held at Hampton University in Virginia starting March 12-15.

“I’m very excited, I think I have a good chance at placing in the top five,” said Cannon, 25 a senior physical education student from Atlanta. Cannon placed 2nd in the 149 pound weight class.

The Rattlers will go against a total of 130 different teams including Yale University, Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University, Ohio State University and Wake Forest University.

The coach also applauds head administrator Thomas White, for his tremendous impact on him while being in his position as head coach. Sharif also recognizes the “wrestlerettes,” volunteers who assist with first aid, taking pictures and getting food for the team. 

The wrestling team will be able to attend nationals with the help of Campus Recreation and the money raised by the team.

“We shoot for the moon, but if we happen to miss the moon at least we will be among the stars,” said Sharif.

Sharif added that the wrestlers this year compared to last years are gelling more as a team.

Head Coach Abdul Sharif is still a student juggling coaching and academics.  As a former standout wrestler he understands the goal of the team and their mission as student athletes.