Updated Tue, Feb 12, 2013 1:06 pm
For Ohio head coach Joel Greenlee, it is very common to redshirt freshmen wrestlers who are coming into the program.
By now, that phenomenon is no longer a surprise; the Bobcats’ coach is just one of many college coaches that exercises the redshirt title on freshmen frequently. It is a bit of an unwritten rule.
But if it is a rule, then Ohio freshman Kagan Squire is one of the few exceptions.
What does it say about Squire that his coaches chose not to redshirt him?
“First and foremost it says that we believe he can win at this level,” Greenlee said.
The true freshman certainly has not disappointed. With 13 wins and 14 losses, Squire just needs two solid wins to give him a winning record. If he continues to wrestle like he has been as of late, that should not be a problem for him.
Squire notes that his season has been one full of ups and downs. But as of right now, he seems to believe his season is currently on an up swing.
“I feel like I started off pretty well the first two tournaments, and then I started to fade a little bit in the middle,” he said. “But I feel like the coaches have gotten me back on track and refocused.”
Squire’s description of his season mirrors his record fairly closely. In the Virginia Duels and Michigan State Classic, he wrestled to a 5-3 record. Unfortunately for Squire, his next two months of action came with a 4-9 record. After picking up his 12th loss of the season on Jan. 11 at a dual meet at Northern Illinois, Squire has turned things around with a 3-1 record.
Coach Greenlee has seen the way his wrestler has grown.
“I think the second part of the year, January and this little bit of February, (Squire) has made big improvements,” Greenlee said. “I think some of it has come down to him getting a little bit of confidence and him getting a feel for himself.”
Some of the confidence that he has gained, Squire says, has come from the fact that his coaches have showed enough faith to allow him to participate in full competition as a true freshman.
Without a redshirt season to ease his way into the challenges of D-1 wrestling, Squire has had to make a quick transition from high school to the college game.
“It’s difficult to jump right into (college),” he said. “You hear people talking about the differences between college and high school but you don’t really realize the differences and don’t get to experience it until you are out on the mat competing.”
When asked to spell out some of the most important differences between the high school and collegiate level, Greenlee noted several factors from strength to conditioning.
“I think a lot of things (are different),” Greenlee said. “I think one is just the strength factor. You see a lot of guys (in high school) that are strong and do really well because they’re men wrestling among boys. If you’re not physically mature when you get (to college) then maybe that’s why you redshirt. College guys are pretty dang strong.
“The other thing is just figuring out the intensity of runs, lifts, practices, and all those things. Kagan comes from a great program where they do all those things but he probably didn’t have work out partners like he has (here)…guys pushing him every day.”
Greenlee mentioned freshmen Joe Munos, KeVon Powell and Thomas McLaughlin, who have combined to win five state titles in high school, as wrestling partners for Squire to practice with.
Squire came to Ohio University from Wadsworth High School (Ohio). He was a part of the 2010 Grizzly team that captured the Ohio state title, and he had plenty of his own successes at Wadsworth as well. At 132 pounds, he put together more than 160 victories, and at state tournaments he finished third twice and second twice.
“My head coaches, the staff (at Wadsworth), my family, they just prepared me for this level of wrestling, taking me all over the country, putting me in the best tournaments and getting me against the best competition that they could,” Squire said.
At 132 pounds coming out of high school, it seemed like Squire would have transitioned well into becoming Ohio’s 133-pounder, but coach and wrestler both said that Squire developed into a 141-pounder.
“Maybe it would have been a hard cut to be a ’33-pounder and maybe he was not quite big enough to be a ’41 pounder, but I think he has developed himself into (one),” Greenlee said.
At 141 pounds, the former Grizzly believes his weight helps him to compete better on the mats.
“It kind of gives me an advantage in the later periods. Other guys are sucked down a bit from cutting weight so they don’t really have the conditioning that I have,” Squire said. “I can focus on getting stronger, getting better technique instead of conditioning.”
In addition to his weight, another advantage that Squire believes he has working for him is a lack of pressure.
“I don’t really feel any pressure,” he said. “I feel a lot less pressure actually, because I’m going to be under the radar as a true freshman. People are going to overlook (me) and stuff like that so it’s just trying to take advantage of that.”
In addition to the lack of pressure, Squire’s head coach sees yet another advantage that his wrestler will experience.
“A lot of times when you redshirt guys right away they don’t know why they’re getting redshirted or what they’re doing or how they should be doing it,” Greenlee said. “They’re just doing it because that’s what everyone else does. I think for (Kagan) it puts him in a position where he’s wrestling this year, he has to train like a varsity guy, he’s got to be there, work(ing) hard every day with no mental breaks, and all those things. Then he will have an opportunity to redshirt a year or two down the road and he will know why he is doing it and really take advantage of that year.”
While it may seem odd that Squire might be redshirted in the future, Greenlee claims it is not uncommon for a wrestler to get redshirted later in his college career if he does not spend his freshman season as a redshirt. In general, Greenlee says a college wrestler typically wrestles for five years.
Whether or not Kagan Squire will ever redshirt remains to be seen, but it certainly appears that his time spent in full competition as a true freshman is an experience that will positively impact the entire duration of his time spent wrestling in Athens.
As challenging as this season may be for Squire, he looks to be dealing with his circumstances exceptionally well, and there is no doubt that his experiences now with shape his future as a Bobcat.