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East County Wednesday, Jun. 17, 2009 8 years ago

Mustangs receive collegiate coaching

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Tom Ryan fully understands what it takes to compete at the collegiate level.

The Ohio State University wrestling coach has spent 16 years teaching the value of commitment, dedication and perseverance to some of the nation’s most talented wrestlers. And last week, the Lakewood Ranch High wrestling team got an in-depth look at what it takes to compete at the next level when Ryan conducted a two-day mini camp for the Mustangs.

During the mini camp, which ran June 11-12, Ryan focused on teaching the basic fundamentals of wrestling while also stressing the importance of hard work, desire and an inner belief system.

“I’m just here to teach them the basics and fundamentals that can mean the difference between a win and a loss,” Ryan said. “But really they like the fancy stuff, so I’m going to beat them up with the basics, and then I’ll excite them with something fun.

“As I teach I tie in life lessons, such as growing your mind, values, hard work and discipline,” he added. “I sprinkle those in while teaching technique.”

Throughout the 10-hour camp, the Mustangs spent most of their time focusing on basic moves, take downs, improving their technique and remaining disciplined.

“It’s definitely a step up from high school,” said Blake Riley-Hawkins, who will be a sophomore this fall. “It definitely makes it so you don’t get sloppy on the mat and it makes you want to get better.”

Lakewood wrestling coach Pat Ancil first approached Ryan shortly after he assumed the Mustangs’ head coaching position. The two developed a friendship as Ryan began offering coaching ideas and suggestions about what Ancil should focus on initially.

Earlier this year, Ancil again approached Ryan, but this time he inquired about Ryan conducting a clinic specifically for his wrestlers. Ryan agreed, and Ancil and the team paid for Ryan’s travel expenses.

“He’s a phenomenal leader on the mats,” Ancil said. “He’s got a great grasp of the sport, and he’s an excellent teacher.

“I hope they can begin to understand where their level of intensity needs to be to get our team to the next level of winning,” he said. “Hopefully, they see the commitment, dedication and perseverance it takes to wrestle at that upper echelon.”

A native of New York, Ryan began wrestling in seventh grade after being cut from the basketball team. After a successful high school career, Ryan earned a full scholarship to Syracuse University where he wrestled for two years before transferring to the University of Iowa.

At Iowa, Ryan was a two-time All-American and Big Ten Champion, helping the Hawkeyes win two Big Ten Championships and two National Championships. Upon graduation, Ryan spent two years as an assistant coach at the University of Indiana before taking over the head coaching position at Hofstra University where he spent 11 years coaching the Pride.

Three years ago, Ryan assumed the head coaching position at OSU where he led the Buckeyes to back-to-back runner-up finishes at the 2008 and 2009 NCAA Championships.

Ryan’s camp served as a prelude to OSU’s takedown camp June 21-25. Ancil and 17 Lakewood wrestlers made the trip to Columbus for the camp.

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].

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