Eastern Michigan University’s Sean Clair and David Wade will be heading to Omaha, Neb., for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships from March 18-20.
Clair is a 133-pound senior out of Turtle Creek, Pa. Nationally ranked in the top 25 for the last four years; he is ready to prove he belongs in the upper echelon of collegiate wrestling.
“I’m definitely within their ranks,” Clair said. “Once you qualify for nationals I don’t think that anyone is head and shoulders above anyone else, you’re all on an equal playing field.”
Now that Clair has made it in to the tournament it is all he’s thinking about.
“I’m just trying to not be overwhelmed by the gravity of this tournament,” he said. “It’s the toughest tournament a collegiate wrestler can compete in, I’m just trying to keep myself straight mentally.”
Clair’s style on the mat is best described as unorthodox.
“Sean’s one of those guys who can beat anybody if you haven’t wrestled him yet” coach Derek DelPorto said.
Clair’s competition is stacked, and he is arguably in the toughest weight class. The field consists of former national champions and All-Americans, but that doesn’t discourage his coach.
“I never throw Sean out of any match,” DelPorto said. “He is strong enough and has the wrestling skills that if he catches you on the right day he can beat you up.”
Wade, a red-shirt junior out of Beavercreek, Ohio, is wrestling in the heavyweight division. Physically, Wade believes he is more than ready for the tournament.
“I don’t think I can get in any better shape, so right now it’s just about maintaining and trying to get better,” he said.
From a mental standpoint, Wade takes a different approach from Clair. Before matches he clears his mind by listening to his iPod. Tunes from Metallica, Lil’ Wayne and Eminiem keep him mentally fresh.
”I usually try not to think about what’s about to happen, think about something else” Wade said. “The number one thing that can beat you before you step on the mat is if you psych yourself out.
DelPorto, a former heavyweight, has prepared his team physically as best he can but defers “everything from the neck up” to the wrestlers. Wrestling is an individual sport, requiring its athletes to be mentally tough and have confidence in their abilities.
”You’re not going to go into a fist fight with some, expecting to get beat up because the end result is probably you’re going to get beat up,” DelPorto said. Clair and Wade are the 35th and 36th Eagles to appear in the tournament.