The Lady Oaks are making their final preparations and are ready to take Bristol, Tennessee by storm in the 2012 College Nationals to begin this Saturday (Jan. 28). As a team Menlo is currently ranked 9th in the nation, to go along with three wrestlers who are ranked in the top ten of their respective weight classes. Sophomore Michelle Jimenez and freshman Lauren Richardson sit at #4 and #5 respectively in the 109lb. weight class, and freshman Brazel Marquez is the #6 wrestler in the 130lb. weight class.
Proper preparation and a whole host of experience are some of the major themes to consider in Menlo's attempt at a successful Nationals run. From a preparation aspect we see the significance of accountability as Lady Oaks Head Coach Marcie Van Dusen is upbeat by her team's training heading into the most important event of the year. "I feel good about our training and weight management," claimed Van Dusen. "The girls are holding each other accountable which should pay dividends this weekend."
Control is also a big factor in Menlo's preparation as Van Dusen has preached the necessity of her girls setting the pace in each of their respective bouts. "As a whole if we take control of our matches and wrestle our way, we should come out alright," remarked Menlo's second year head coach. "If we enter with that mindset I am hopeful that we can come out on top."
In terms of experience, the Lady Oaks have done a great job of squaring off against a number of Nationals' competitors throughout the duration of their regular season. Effective scheduling saw trips to the Missouri Valley Open, US Open Nationals in Arlington, Texas, and Sunkist International in Phoenix Arizona. At these tournaments Menlo was afforded the opportunity to go against numerous top ten schools including King College (#2), Lindenwood University (#4), Wayland Baptist University (#6), and Missouri Valley College (#7). The Oaks also hosted home duals against Oklahoma City University (#1), University of the Cumberlands (#5), and Waldorf College (#10).
"I think we have done a really good job of scheduling as a way to help us prepare for Nationals," commented Van Dusen. "We saw these schools enough to know what they offer, but not to the extent where they can analyze us completely."
Two returners and two newcomers highlight the list of Menlo women's wrestlers to keep an eye on in the 2012 College Nationals. Junior Sherylyn Sabado and sophomore Michelle Jimenez are both returning All-Americans and both will be taking aim in the 109lb. weight class. Sabado brings previous experience into the equation with two prior Nationals appearances, while Jimenez has rolled off two third place finishes in major tournaments this year. The first third place mark came in the Missouri Valley Open and the other in the Yakima Valley Community College Tournament. Jimenez was also undefeated in dual play this season.
Along with Sabado and Jimenez, freshmen Lauren Richardson and Kalin Knight-Alverez show potential to come up big on the grand stage. Richardson will be wrestling in what appears to be the vaunted 109lb. weight class and Knight-Alverez will take her chances in the 116lb. weight class. This year Richardson is responsible for one of Menlo's brightest moments after taking home a first place finish in the Menlo Open back on December 31st. For Knight-Alverez, her tenacity and willingness to adjust should make her a force to be reckoned with. "It's truly amazing what Kalin has done this year," said Van Dusen on her freshman wrestler. "She has done everything right all season long and always does what the coaching staff asks of her."
What's At Stake:
In the 109, 123, 136, and 155lb. weight classes the top two wrestlers will qualify for the Olympic trials. In all other weight classes only the champion will qualify for Olympic trials.