Two close losses in the championship rounds of two prestigious wrestling tournaments haven’t been too damaging to Cal State Fullerton heavyweight David Jones’ ego.
In fact, Jones is glad he lost to Iowa’s Jon Oostendorp, 6-4, in overtime in the Northern Open finals Nov. 24, and to Illinois’ John Llewellyn, 7-3, in the Las Vegas Invitational finals Dec. 1.
“If I won, I would have sat back and thought I was in good shape and would have stayed at the level I’m at,” said Jones, the nation’s third-ranked heavyweight. He will enter Thursday’s match against Oklahoma State with an 11-2 record. “Now, I know I have to work harder and get in better shape. These losses will motivate me more. It’s better to lose now than later.”
Jones figures the losses to Llewellyn, ranked second in the country, and Oostendorp, ranked fifth, will give him a slight mental edge should he face either again, and it’s very likely he will, come NCAA tournament time in March.
Jones, who finished fourth in last season’s NCAA meet, beat Llewellyn in the national quarterfinals, so he thinks Llewellyn had the pay-back incentive when they wrestled at Las Vegas. He had not wrestled Oostendorp before the Northern Open at the University of Wisconsin.
“If I won these matches and had to wrestle those guys again, I would have the attitude that I beat them before and they wouldn’t be much of a challenge,” said Jones, a 5-foot-9, 250-pound senior. “And they would be after me. But now I have something to look forward to at nationals.”
The mind games might resume before the nationals. Jones could face Llewellyn or Oostendorp again Dec. 28-29 at the Midlands Invitational Open at Northwestern. Jones will skip two home matches to travel to Evanston, Ill., for the tournament.
“These losses will help him in the long run,” Fullerton Coach Dan Lewis said. “If he lost by a lot or got pinned, he might have been discouraged, but if he wrestled these guys 10 times, he’d go 5-5. He just has to be mentally ready for the nationals.”
The most grueling week in Fullerton wrestling history began Monday night when the Titans defeated 17th-ranked Northwestern, 27-16, in a dual meet at Titan Gym.
Fullerton plays host to two-time defending national champion Oklahoma State, the country’s top-ranked team, Thursday night and 10th-ranked Minnesota Friday night.
Oklahoma State features six wrestlers who are ranked among the top six nationally in their weight classes by Amateur Wrestling News, including top-ranked 158-pounder Pat Smith and second-ranked 134-pounder Alan Fried.
“It should be interesting to see how we react to this,” Lewis said. “We’ve never had this many nationally ranked teams here in one week. We didn’t call them all and invite them here this week--they just happened to be in the area, and you have to schedule them when they’re available.”
Fullerton swept Big West Conference basketball player of the week awards Monday when junior guard Joe Small and senior center Genia Miller were honored.
Small had 16 points and six assists Wednesday in Fullerton’s 84-60 victory over San Francisco and 27 points and four assists Saturday in a 69-66 overtime victory over Pepperdine. He made 11 of 20 field-goal attempts against the Waves, including two three-pointers that put the Titans ahead in the second half.
Miller scored 93 points, grabbed 29 rebounds and blocked nine shots in three games, victories over Pepperdine and La Salle and a loss to Montana in the championship game of the Domino’s Tournament.
Miller made 15 of 20 shots and scored 37 points against Montana and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. She has 821 career rebounds, breaking the previous school record of 805, set by Terri Withers (1981-85).
“She was so phenomenal in that Montana game that she even surprised me,” Fullerton Coach Maryalyce Jeremiah said. “She was mobbed by kids who wanted her autograph after the game.”
Just fax this note directly to the Mississippi Valley State basketball office:
Titan Coach John Sneed, when informed that Delta Devils guard Alphonso Ford was named Sports Illustrated’s player of the week last week and was averaging 36 points per game (actually 34.1), had this to say about the teams’ game Saturday night in Titan Gym:
“People tell me (Ford) can really shoot the ball, but we’re going to make that 40 minutes in Titan Gym miserable for him. He won’t get 36 against us, I can guarantee that.”
Through Saturday night, Big West Conference men’s basketball teams were 4-17 on the road this season. Nevada Las Vegas won at Reno and New Mexico State won at Texas El Paso, but guess who has the other two road victories?
Cal State Fullerton, which won all of three road games last season and had lost seven consecutive road games before winning at San Francisco and Pepperdine last week. These are the same Titans who were picked to finish last in the conference by Big West coaches.
“I’m not saying we’re a great team, but I said we’d be better than our preseason ranking, and now people are starting to believe me,” Sneed said. “The players are coming around, accepting their roles and believing in themselves. We’re in good shape.”
Construction of the Titan Sports Complex is still moving along ahead of schedule, according to Jay Bond, the school’s associate vice president for facility planning and construction. Bond said the bulk of the mass grading for the project has been completed and some retaining walls have been poured. Utilities are being laid, and excavation and earth work continues. “There’s nothing sexy yet, but they’re proceeding along in proper order,” Bond said. “They’re continuing to do an excellent job.” . . . Fullerton junior point guard Wayne Williams needs nine assists to pass Keith Anderson (1975-79) and move into second on the Titans’ all-time career assists list. Williams has 385 assists, and Anderson had 393. Leon Wood (1981-84) is the career assist leader with 744. . . . Senior reserve point guard Dareck Crane, academically ineligible for the fall semester, will return to the team for Fullerton’s Dec. 22 game against Chapman College, Coach John Sneed said. . . . Fullerton ranks second among Big West teams with a .717 free-throw percentage, thanks largely to Joe Small and Ron Caldwell (both .826 from the line). Small ranks seventh in the conference in scoring with a 19.4 average, sophomore forward Bruce Bowen ranks ninth in rebounding with an 8.0 average, and junior forward Agee Ward (.595) and sophomore forward Aaron Wilhite (.550) are among the top seven in field-goal percentage.