DURHAM, N.C.-Duke University wrestling head coach Glen Lanham sat down with GoDuke.com for a few minutes wrestling to talk about how the early season practices are going. The Blue Devils are working hard in the wrestling room and the weight room and are ready to get the season underway in a few weeks.
On how the first preseason practices are going
Glen Lanham: "[Practice has] been pretty good. The guys have been working really hard. They're excited to get the season started and I definitely know I am after the transition over the summer and everything that comes with that. We just want to get it started and get after it. And the guys are anxious for that as well."
On team practices and time in the wrestling room
GL: "We kind of went away from the open mat a little bit, but we wanted to utilize those eight hours. We want to make sure everyone is accountable so we get in there at 4:30 in the afternoon and set the clock and we get an hour's worth of wrestling. We have a routine on the board that they have to do before they can do what they want to do. It usually takes those guys about 15 minutes to go through the routine. Then after that they get after it and work on what they want to work on and we walk around and make sure that what they're doing is what we want them to do. We also give them some open time too because guys like [Brandon] Gambucci and others are kind of funky and they like to experiment so we like to give them the opportunity to do that but we want to make sure that what they're working is sound and will help them. The attitude of guys has been great. They just have a different walk to them. I think they understand the expectations we have for them. We expect them to win and compete with no excuses and that's everywhere from the weight room to the classroom. The expectations are to be excellent everywhere and these guys are stepping up right now so we definitely want to continue to do that."
On the freshmen and their transition
GL: "I think those guys have had a pretty seamless transition because all of them were here this summer. They kind of found a niche in terms of where they fit because a lot of our upperclassmen were here as well working out. The guys came in knowing what the expectations are and our upperclassmen were great about letting those guys know what they expect and what we're trying to do as a program. They met everybody from administrators to strength coaches so they weren't going into anything blind. I think it allowed them to hit the ground running and that's exactly what they did when they came back to campus."
GL: "I see Pete [Terrezza] stepping it up and I think he's going to do a good job being a leader. [Andrew] Fulk is working hard. He had the knee injury last season and he's way ahead of where he needs to be as far as his treatment goes. That's just a testament to his determination. He knows he has the potential to compete in the ACC and nationally and he has shown me that he is willing to put the work in. He's really bought into the line of thought that if you put the work in good things happen. He stayed around all summer and he opened up his apartment to other wrestlers and had those guys living there. I think he had seven or eight guys living with him at times and he had no complaints, because he knew that it was something that was good for the team. We have so many great personalities on the team and everyone from redshirt freshmen to our seniors will be important to the squad."
Overall focus of these early practices
GL: "Right now the focus is trying to assess what the guys' needs are technically in the wrestling room. And secondly working with [Academic Coordinator] Khary McGhee and making sure the freshmen don't get lost in the shuffle because that's what happens a lot of time with them. The expectations at Duke are high and it's not like high school. While some of these guys cruised in high school, it's different now. And making sure that everybody is on the same page and that no one is slipping through the cracks and that includes the guys who are injured and making sure they are a part of the program and making sure they can do what they can do and are still involved. I think the biggest challenge is to keep everybody on the same page, realize what our goals are and to achieve those."
On what he thinks has been the most challenging for the wrestlers
GL: "I think that just looking at the conditioning and the lifting and the work that they do in the weight room I would have to say that is the biggest challenge for these guys. I go in there and I look at the challenges the coaches in there are giving them and our guys are being challenged in ways that they've never been challenged before. I think that's the fact that a lot of them don't come from a strong weightlifting program and when they get in there and they get someone in their ear they realize that it's not high school anymore and they have to learn the structure, the technique, and it is challenging."
On the team's chemistry off the mat
GL:"I think our team's social life off the mat is what keeps us strong too. We have recruits in and we don't have to make anyone do anything. These guys love to wrestle and love to be in the wrestling room and that's great, but outside of that we try to keep up with our guys socially. Whether it's meeting up at football games or our community service projects which all of the coaches are involved in. Our slogan is building the total student-athlete and when we look at that that's academics, that's athletics and that's community, that's what we try to focus on. We know that it's more than just wrestling, it's more than just academics. And we're on the same page as our guys. For example, some of them like to fish and we'll do that with them. We like to get involved in activities they like to do as well. I think that's important."
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