After two months of back and forth wrestling between Jon Gingrich and Jimmy Lawson, head coach Cael Sanderson was able to name his starting heavyweight last Friday.
With Lawson going 4-2 in the Southern Scuffle and Gingrich going 2-2, Sanderson decided to have a wrestle off between the two since the duo didn’t face off at the event. To replicate a real match, a mat was set out in the Rec Hall gym and the lights were dimmed. Gingrich won the spot after edging out Lawson in a close match.
Gingrich said he felt a sense of relief knowing that he won the spot.
“Right after the day I won the spot, I felt relieved, finally felt like, OK, it’s mine,” Gingrich said. “I came back and started to get ready. I just stayed on track and stayed focused.”
Gingrich’s debut as a starter saw him match up against No. 4 Michael McClure of Michigan State on Sunday. Similar to his match against No. 8 Adam Chalfant of Indiana, Gingrich focused on his strategy of wearing his guy down and taking advantage in the third period. Against McClure, it was tied 1-1 late in the third before the sophomore found his spot and took McClure to the mat, eventually winning 5-3.
The win earned Gingrich his second Ridge Riley award of the season, given to the most outstanding wrestler at a home dual.
After scouting McClure, Gingrich said that the bout fell right into his game plan of focusing on which leg to defend. He also knew McClure would tire easily, allowing him to make his move.
James English, who started at 149 pounds, said Gingrich’s win over McClure is what his teammates have come to expect out of the heavyweight.
“I know he can compete with anyone in the country,” English said. “He’s just a monster.”
Despite earning the starting spot, Gingrich said he still has some things to improve upon as the season progresses, particularly on the pace of his offense. The sophomore was hit with a stalling call against McClure, which gave the Spartan wrestler a point.
“There’s a few things I want to work on, maybe faking a little bit more, because it will leave some more shots, I need to keep myself from getting hit for stalling,” Gingrich said. “Refs will probably start hitting me for stalling if I’m not shooting; even though I am doing work, it’s just they need to see the offense.”
With a second win over a top 10 heavyweight at home, Sanderson said Gingrich is able to start building on his confidence.
“Success builds confidence. That’s the greatest skill when you’re confident so hopefully he can keep going,” Sanderson said. “Last time when he was here, he beat a ranked guy too so he’s doing well. He’s very tough, very strong, explosive. For him, I think it’s just having success like that is going to help him build confidence and he can just go out there and have a good time.”