Shuck, Whitewater open season with trip to Madison
By Nate Woelfel | Wisconsin Wrestling Online
There is no denying that Ned Shuck was handed the keys to a wrestling program on the rise when he took over at UW-Whitewater prior to the start of last season.
The Warhawks had won the last three Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and had placed in the top 10 at the NCAA Division III championships in each of those seasons.
But it is also impossible to deny that the Warhawks continue to stay the course under Shuck’s leadership. Last season, Whitewater won the WIAC and placed fourth at the NCAAs, putting All-Americans on the podium in five of 10 weight classes.
Thursday marks the beginning of Shuck’s sophomore campaign. Whitewater, the No.11 team in Division III according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, will head to Madison to take on Wisconsin.
“It’s great for the state to have, in my mind, the top two wrestling programs in the state, collegiately, going after it,” Shuck said. “As a coach, you’re always looking for a way to test your guys. I think this is a great way to test the early season.”
The Badgers enter the contest ranked No.13 in Division I by FloWrestling.
“It’s tough competition. The Badgers are always tough,” Shuck said. “That’s really going to help us evaluate how the preseason has been.”
No matter how tough the competition is, Shuck’s expectations of his wrestlers remain the same.
“I always ask our guys for three things,” Shuck said. “When you step on the mat, I’m expecting a great attitude. I’m expecting your best effort. And I’m expecting you to fight. The expectations are high that way.
“We’re not just going to be tucking our tail and running. I’m expecting our guys to fight and to battle and to push for everything, just like I always would.”
By putting emphasis on attitude and effort, Shuck hopes to keep his men focused on what they can control.
“The win/loss thing, that’s something that I try not to focus with our guys on because the win/loss thing, that stuff happens,” Shuck said. “Somebody is going to get their hand raised.
Obviously, we’re working really hard to make sure it’s going to be us. But there are no guarantees there. If those guys don’t bring those three things to the mat, then we’re leaving things up to chance and I don’t like to do that.”
After roughly one month of official practices, Shuck believes his athletes are ready to mix it up with some fresh opponents.
“There’s definitely that eagerness that comes with guys who have been training and preparing,” Shuck said. “It’s good to get out and tangle with somebody else a little bit. That’s definitely one of things they are excited about.”
Shuck, who wrestled for Iowa in the early 2000s, is no stranger to Big Ten environments and while he wants his wrestlers to capitalize on the opportunity to compete on a big stage, he doesn’t want the moment to become too big for them.
“This is a cool opportunity for us and we definitely don’t want to take that for granted, but so is every other match that we wrestle,” Shuck said. “From that standpoint, we’re not trying to making it bigger than it needs to be. It’s just another guy that we’re wrestling.”
Much like his wrestlers, Shuck is ready to get back into the swing of things. After all, there is nothing else he would rather be doing.
“For me, it’s my passion. It’s what I love doing. For me, selfishly, personally what I’m most looking forward to is just getting in the corner of our guys and having their backs and going to battle together,” Shuck said. “It’s going to be a cool stage to do it. It’s going to be fun in Madison. It’s a cool venue with a lot of history.
“I’m just excited to get to be in the corner again and just battling it out, putting ourselves to the test and seeing where we’re sitting.”
The match will be streamed live on btn2go.com
Nathan Woelfel @Nate_Woelfel