Star Mytych looks to capitalize on second chance
Issue date: 11/6/09 Section: Sports
"I feel that they've (Maryland) certainly got the edge, I'd say six matches them … probably three matches us and one tossup … but anything can happen when you're on the mat," head coach Jack Childs said. "They're clear-cut ahead of us, but again it's the first match for them too and we're anxious to wrestle them."
Childs feels that this year's schedule will help his team in the long run throughout the season.
"We've got a tough schedule as evidenced by the fact we're wrestling Maryland, who's ranked [10th] in the country right now. We have Missouri; they're ranked [8th] in the country," Childs said. "We were invited to the Las Vegas Invitational. So the schedule's conducive to prepare these guys for what's going to occur on the national level."
Coming off a broken ankle that forced him to sit out the entire 2008-2009 season, senior co-captain Steve Mytych, who holds Drexel's single-season record for wins (38), was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA. He looks to lead his team to a winning record in the upcoming season-a season in which the Dragons expect a lot from them-selves.
"As a team, I think that we're young right now, but we're explosive. All the young guys are credentialed, state place winners from Pennsylvania," Mytych said. "I know they're prepared. I'm prepared. I know our team's ready; [our] coach is ready. I think we're going to have a good year."
Childs is coming off a season in which he earned his 400th coaching victory and looks to lead his team towards the path of NCAA success.
"We're certainly better than what we were last year. I hope we're over .500 this season; that's our goal," Childs said. "It's not what we do during the season, it's the end of the season and taking these guys, the accomplished guys, to the NCAA championships. Last year we took two, this year we're looking for at least four."
Childs has high hopes for Mytych as he closes out his career at Drexel.
"Well, it's been five years that we worked together and now it's his time to show. He's certainly [got] an all-American quality," Childs said. "Whether he can be in that first or second place medal winning, I'm not sure ... He's certainly going to be an all-American. He'll be in the top eight no matter what weight class he's at."
Coming into the season the Dragons are ranked fifth in the preseason CAA polls. Both Childs and Mytych believe they can be better than that, but do not doubt their ranking, which is based on last season's performance. Childs believes that they could possibly be ranked higher than Hofstra and even have a small shot at dethroning No. 1 Old Dominion. Mytych feels that his team could be one of the tops in the conference, along with a few other teams.
"We'll definitely be in the top three. You've got to give Old Dominion number one. Then I think it'll be a battle between us, Hofstra and Rider," Mytych said. "I know Hofstra had three kids from their starting lineup last year leave the program so I know they're going to be hurting with those three kids gone. That'll be a big help for our team."
Childs also believes that they are a better team this year, simply because they don't have a laundry list of injuries. He also feels that they have a better environment to succeed in.
"We have better credentialed athletes. We're better prepared for the wars that we have," Childs said. "We had some real holes last year in our lineup and some injuries that took place. Certainly right here at [125 pounds] with Steve last year; that was the difference between six and 12 points every match and that definitely hurt us."
According to Mytych, there is a different way about his team, and he can see how their confidence has grown from previous years.
"As a team we're much closer. We train harder. It's much different than the last few years," Mytych said. "I think this is the best team I've been a part of the last five years, just by the talent level. We've just got to keep a good morale, train hard. Nothing's easy."
Childs believes that his team has come together to form a strong and solid unit. He hopes that the fact that his team is a more cohesive unit will take them deep into NCAA competition.
Mytych himself is looking forward to his final season and feels that he can bring more to the table for his team than he did last year after missing last season due to an ankle injury.
"I think me personally being with the team, the leadership factor helps," Mytych said. "I broke my ankle last year in the beginning of the year so I wasn't really there for support. But this year I'll make sure everyone's ready at all times."
Along with his leadership, Mytych also brings his All-American potential to the table, a factor that will be very useful in the match against the Terrapins.
"I think it's great to compete against a high ranked team in the country right out of the shoot. You know what's expected. You know what's going to happen," Mytych said. "Personally, I'm wrestling the No. 4 kid in the country in my first match of the year. I beat him 10-2; the beast of the east in high school in the quarterfinals, which is a huge tournament in high school, but this is college; now it's different. He proved himself; he's an All-American and I'm still trying to be an All-American. I don't want to give any guarantees but we'll see what happens."
Along with the returning talent, the Dragons also have some good young talent.
"[Jack] Callender and [Joseph] Booth, both being redshirt freshmen, they went to open tournaments last year, so this isn't their first college competition at all," Childs said. "The other two freshmen [Joshua] Yurasits and [Shane] Fenningham, true freshmen, they've been to the state championships, they've wrestled post season competition. That's not as rigorous as college, but they certainly are aware of what they've got to do and we've had a pretty rough pre-season too."