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J Ott

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J Ott last won the day on August 25 2018

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About J Ott

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  1. Coach, you bring up some very valid points. I'm happy to see there are coaches like you who are willing to do the unglamorous work (like focusing on the JV and C teams) that is essential if wrestling is to remain a traditional high school sport and not something that is dominated by club-like competition like soccer. I wrote this article two years ago expressing my thoughts on the matter before I stepped away from high school wrestling to open a kids wrestling club: https://www.missouriwrestling.com/thoughts-on-wrestling/
  2. We still have openings for the Andy Hrovat clinic this weekend if you'd like to learn from an Olympian! Email Jon at jon.ott@stljwc.org if you'd like to attend. We hope to see you there! https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-2g4AEiLYTCN5dbqC4H_4ZugL5WdSOQe/view?usp=sharing
  3. 2008 Olympian Andy Hrovat will be in St. Louis March 24-25 to teach his BASE Wrestling system to interested coaches and wrestlers. During his international career, Andy trained extensively in Russia, which allowed him to learn the fundamentals on which BASE Wrestling is built. It's a natural, logical, and effective system of wrestling training that will benefit wrestlers and coaches alike. He'll host two sessions for high schoolers on Saturday, March 24 and a session for kids on Sunday morning, March 25. Check out the attached flier and contact Jon Ott at jon.ott@stljwc.org for more info. Hrovat Clinic.pdf
  4. Hello everyone, I'd like to find some opportunities for our wrestlers (all of whom are brand new to the sport or just started practicing last year) to compete in matches without spending their entire Saturday or Sunday in an overcrowded gym full of more experienced kids. Are any other coaches or programs in the same boat? If so, email me at jon.ott@stljwc.org and lets see if we can set something up. I'm thinking of a dual-meet setup, possibly even with a short joint practice beforehand. We practice at St. Louis University High School and would be looking to set something up in the St. Louis area. Let me know if you're interested. Thanks. Jon Ott Saint Louis Jesuit Wrestling Club
  5. Attention all prospective St. Louis-area youth wrestlers: Saint Louis Jesuit Wrestling Club will begin its inaugural youth wrestling season this November. We will practice at St. Louis University High. Coaches will include former college wrestlers and state champion high school wrestlers. Click here for more information. All wrestlers who register with the club receive free admission to our clinic with 2x undefeated NCAA champion, 2009 World Silver Medalist, and 2012 Olympian Jake Herbert on October 15. The clinic is open to other youth and high school wrestlers as well. Click here for more information on the clinic. If you have any questions, please contact Jon Ott at jott@sluh.org. Thanks
  6. Here's the schedule. All events will take place in the Fieldhouse, which you can access by parking on the lot we share with the science center. We will provide vouchers so you will not have to pay to park. We're looking forward to seeing a big crowd and a lot of good wrestling at our place this weekend! Thursday seeding meeting - 6:00 Friday weigh ins - 4:00 Friday wrestling - 5:30 Saturday weigh ins - 8:30 Saturday wrestling - 10:00
  7. II. Scheduling At some point between the time I graduated high school in 2001 and the time I began my coaching career in 2005, a new school of thought rose to prominence in the process of scheduling high school wrestling matches. According to this new line of thinking, more is always better. Dual meets have been replaced by tri-meets and quads. Brackets have been replaced by pools. Outside of the district and state tournaments, double elimination is a thing of the past. Why have a kid wrestle only two matches when he could wrestle four? I understand the assumptions on which this thought is based. Presumably these changes grew out of a concern over the increasing number of forfeits and the understanding that certain skills can only be developed through competition. But I would argue that the increased number of matches has exacerbated the forfeit problem instead of solving it. And the benefits of more match experience are nullified when wrestlers do not have adequate time to recover and improve between matches. College coaches seem to understand this point better than their high school counterparts. Last year’s ten Division 1 NCAA champions averaged 34.1 matches, including matches wrestled at the conference and NCAA tournaments. In contrast, last year’s fourteen Missouri Class 4 state champions averaged 45.9 matches, and many of those state champions recorded considerably fewer matches than other wrestlers in their brackets. The college season also starts almost a month earlier and ends almost a month later. Perhaps high school coaches and athletic directors would do well to ask why NCAA champion wrestlers average about seven matches per month, while Missouri state champion wrestlers average about fifteen. My take is that wrestling fewer matches allows athletes to better recover and make improvements from match to match. I believe reducing the number of matches would also help make wrestling more appealing for the average student athlete and his or her parents. Every passionate member of the wrestling community understands our sport’s profound ability to form dedicated, hard-working, resilient citizens. So much of what I know about myself as a man, as a husband, as a father, and as a teacher can be traced back to my time on the mat. As our recent “Save Olympic Wrestling” movement has emphasized, young people need wrestling. Wrestling also needs young people, and not just the ones who, like me, started wrestling at age five. Unfortunately, I believe our current scheduling model pushes many new wrestlers out the door, and discourages many others from trying the sport in the first place. Consider the average tri-meet. Wrestlers get out of school around 3:00 on a Tuesday afternoon. Two of the teams then board busses while the host team begins to set up. After weigh-ins, wrestlers have less than an hour to eat, rehydrate, and warm up. The first of three rounds then begins at 5:00. Wrestling ends around 8:00. Wrestlers get home somewhere between 9:00-9:30. Hopefully they take a shower sometime in there. When exactly are they supposed to do their homework? If the wrestlers themselves do not care about this question, their parents certainly do. At least they should. The elite wrestlers will find a way to make ends meet, even when they have multiple meets and a two-day tournament in the same week. For the kid who has not yet completely bought in, however, this sort of time commitment – not to mention the physical toll of wrestling fifty matches in less than three months – makes the exit door far too appealing. The temptation to quit is only enhanced by the lack of spectators at a typical high school wrestling meet, which I believe is also tied to our current scheduling model. In our football and basketball-dominated sports culture, it’s difficult enough to attract fans to traditional dual meets and tournaments. But when we change a dual meet to a tri-meet, the meet becomes three times longer. For one third of that time, the home team does not even wrestle. Tri-meets and quads also reduce the number of home matches each team wrestles per season, which further alienates fans. Tournaments have similar issues. When I was in high school, even the smaller tournaments made a spectacle of the finals. It was fun to be a part of and fun to watch. At most tournaments today, however, everyone in the gym is so exhausted from five or six previous rounds of wrestling that the finals are done with a “let’s get this over with” mentality. It’s difficult for anyone to get jazzed up about the 145-pound finals when the seventh place match at 170 is being wrestled at the same time on the next mat. Our current structure makes wrestling less exciting by driving away fans. And, when we drive away fans, we also drive away those intermediate wrestlers who used to fill all the open weight classes we see today. Looking Ahead If wrestling really is dying, it’s only because we, as coaches and administrators, are killing it. It’s time to stop. It’s time to adopt matside weigh-ins to promote the health and safety of our wrestlers and to remove the incentive to cheat. It’s time to step away from the “more matches is better” mentality so that we can make our sport more appealing to fans and to potential wrestlers and their parents. We all love to talk about how wrestling builds character and teaches the value of hard work and endurance. Now let’s do more than talk about it. Let’s display those qualities we’ve developed through wrestling by attacking the problems our sport faces. Let’s work hard to find creative ways to enhance wrestling, and let’s endure in our efforts until the idea that “wrestling is a dying sport” is itself dead.
  8. Wrestling is a Dying Sport, But Only Because We Are Killing It. A few years ago, someone asked my former high school coach how his once-proud wrestling program was now barely able to field half of a varsity lineup. “Wrestling is a dying sport,” was the only response he could muster. At the time, my team boasted a full and competitive lineup. My C-team coaches had to work to find opportunities for all of our extra freshmen wrestlers to get matches. So of course, I dismissed my former coach’s conclusion as the lazy excuse of a man who had given up. “If you would just put in the work and find a little bit of creativity,” I thought, “you would have just as many wrestlers as I do.” Fast forward a few years and here I am, staring at seven open weight classes on the lineup card I’m about to submit for this weekend’s tournament. Of the 29 members of the class of 2016 who earned freshmen wrestling letters, two remain on the team. My fellow coaches and I spend hundreds of hours convincing boys to wrestle, teaching them the ins and outs of the sport, and guiding them through the struggles that make wrestling so beautiful. But most of them quit. And many of the wrestlers who remain fail to put in the work. Maybe the old coach was right. Maybe wrestling is dying. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would object to this claim, and some evidence suggests they might be right for doing so. The Purler brothers have built a very successful business while training elite high school wrestlers. Many of those wrestlers continue their careers in college, where they are experiencing more success than former Missouri high school wrestlers have in the past. Coach Brian Smith has built Mizzou into a perennial wrestling powerhouse. Just two months ago, over 42,000 fans packed into Kinnick Stadium to watch Iowa defeat Oklahoma state in a dual meet. Last year’s NCAA Championships set another record for attendance, and ESPN covered every match of the tournament. A quick glance at wrestling’s highest stage would seem to suggest the sport is thriving here in Missouri and in many other places around the country. But such a glance overlooks some disturbing developments at the sport’s foundation – youth and high school wrestling. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, participation in wrestling among 6-17 year olds declined almost 42% from 2009 to 2014. No other sport saw such a dramatic drop off. The National Wrestling Coaches Association says the average roster size among high school wrestling teams is at its lowest point since 1970. If wrestling is not dying, it is very sick. And the fact that this sickness is wreaking the most havoc at the youth and high school levels does not paint a rosy picture for the future. But I do not believe we have to sit idly by while this sickness spreads from wrestling’s foundation to its more glamorous levels. We can heal our sport. And the first step in the healing process is to recognize the causes of the illness. In my opinion, nothing causes more harm to wrestling than our current weight management practices and scheduling models. I. Weight Management My claim that weight management issues hurt wrestling is hardly original. Over the past two decades, national and state governing bodies have implemented numerous policies aimed at reducing the health hazards and stigma associated with cutting weight. Weigh-ins now occur 1-2 hours before competition. Wrestlers must complete body composition and hydration tests to establish their minimum eligible weight classes. Starting weights at dual meets are randomly drawn. All of these efforts have contributed to a weight-management environment that is far safer than it was when three college wrestlers died while cutting weight between November and December, 1997. Unfortunately, these efforts have also ignored the most obvious and best solution to the problem and, in doing so, have burdened already-overburdened coaches with hours of unnecessary busywork and have kept the door open for dishonest coaches and administrators to cheat the system. Matside weigh-ins are long overdue. Weighing in each wrestler at the beginning of each match would all but eliminate the extreme dehydration and starvation methods with which so many of my fellow ex-wrestlers and I are so familiar. A wrestler can convince himself it’s smart to drop eight pounds in a day only if he can also convince himself he will be ready to win a match once he’s had time to recover. By eliminating the post weigh-in recovery period, matside weigh-ins would also eliminate the appeal of rapid and unhealthy weight loss. In addition to improving the average wrestler’s nutrition and hydration level, matside weigh-ins would also reduce the number of injuries by removing the incentive to over-train shortly before competition. They would also reduce coaches’ workloads. Under our current system, high school coaches must arrange for each of their athletes to be assessed. Then they must map out each wrestler’s eligible weight classes for every competition date. As the season rolls on, they must monitor each wrestler’s weigh-in history and take note of any time a wrestler alters his minimum eligible weight by weighing in two weight classes above his minimum. Starting this year, the coach must also go back into the system after each weigh-in and enter each wrestler’s actual weight. All of this is required in an attempt to make weight management safer and more fair for the athletes, but in reality it increases the workload for coaches who already work 60+ hours during a typical in-season week without deterring dishonest coaches and administrators from cheating and endangering athletes. Anyone who’s been around high school wrestling over the past decade has undoubtedly asked the same question: “How could Wrestler A, who is built like a Mack Truck and has no perceivable body fat, certify for 126 when Wrestler B, who is visibly smaller with less muscle, is only certified for 132?” The answer that none of us like to admit is that Wrestler A cheated. Or someone cheated for him. And there are plenty of ways to cheat the weight certification test. In college I witnessed them firsthand. The only thing stopping some wrestlers and assessors from cheating is their integrity. I would prefer a fair policy over a policy that rewards cheaters, presuming a fair option exists. Fortunately, there is an option that is not only more fair but also less time consuming for coaches. It also does a better job of promoting the health and safety of our wrestlers. That option is matside weigh-ins.
  9. Hello fellow Missouri Wrestling fans. Below is a (perhaps long-winded) collection of my thoughts on the current state of our sport. I figured it might make for some fun conversation. Thank you in advance for reading. Jon Ott
  10. II. Scheduling At some point between the time I graduated high school in 2001 and the time I began my coaching career in 2005, a new school of thought rose to prominence in the process of scheduling high school wrestling matches. According to this new line of thinking, more is always better. Dual meets have been replaced by tri-meets and quads. Brackets have been replaced by pools. Outside of the district and state tournaments, double elimination is a thing of the past. Why have a kid wrestle only two matches when he could wrestle four? I understand the assumptions on which this thought is based. Presumably these changes grew out of a concern over the increasing number of forfeits and the understanding that certain skills can only be developed through competition. But I would argue that the increased number of matches has exacerbated the forfeit problem instead of solving it. And the benefits of more match experience are nullified when wrestlers do not have adequate time to recover and improve between matches. College coaches seem to understand this point better than their high school counterparts. Last year’s ten Division 1 NCAA champions averaged 34.1 matches, including matches wrestled at the conference and NCAA tournaments. In contrast, last year’s fourteen Missouri Class 4 state champions averaged 45.9 matches, and many of those state champions recorded considerably fewer matches than other wrestlers in their brackets. The college season also starts almost a month earlier and ends almost a month later. Perhaps high school coaches and athletic directors would do well to ask why NCAA champion wrestlers average about seven matches per month, while Missouri state champion wrestlers average about fifteen. My take is that wrestling fewer matches allows athletes to better recover and make improvements from match to match. I believe reducing the number of matches would also help make wrestling more appealing for the average student athlete and his or her parents. Every passionate member of the wrestling community understands our sport’s profound ability to form dedicated, hard-working, resilient citizens. So much of what I know about myself as a man, as a husband, as a father, and as a teacher can be traced back to my time on the mat. As our recent “Save Olympic Wrestling” movement has emphasized, young people need wrestling. Wrestling also needs young people, and not just the ones who, like me, started wrestling at age five. Unfortunately, I believe our current scheduling model pushes many new wrestlers out the door, and discourages many others from trying the sport in the first place. Consider the average tri-meet. Wrestlers get out of school around 3:00 on a Tuesday afternoon. Two of the teams then board busses while the host team begins to set up. After weigh-ins, wrestlers have less than an hour to eat, rehydrate, and warm up. The first of three rounds then begins at 5:00. Wrestling ends around 8:00. Wrestlers get home somewhere between 9:00-9:30. Hopefully they take a shower sometime in there. When exactly are they supposed to do their homework? If the wrestlers themselves do not care about this question, their parents certainly do. At least they should. The elite wrestlers will find a way to make ends meet, even when they have multiple meets and a two-day tournament in the same week. For the kid who has not yet completely bought in, however, this sort of time commitment – not to mention the physical toll of wrestling fifty matches in less than three months – makes the exit door far too appealing. The temptation to quit is only enhanced by the lack of spectators at a typical high school wrestling meet, which I believe is also tied to our current scheduling model. In our football and basketball-dominated sports culture, it’s difficult enough to attract fans to traditional dual meets and tournaments. But when we change a dual meet to a tri-meet, the meet becomes three times longer. For one third of that time, the home team does not even wrestle. Tri-meets and quads also reduce the number of home matches each team wrestles per season, which further alienates fans. Tournaments have similar issues. When I was in high school, even the smaller tournaments made a spectacle of the finals. It was fun to be a part of and fun to watch. At most tournaments today, however, everyone in the gym is so exhausted from five or six previous rounds of wrestling that the finals are done with a “let’s get this over with” mentality. It’s difficult for anyone to get jazzed up about the 145-pound finals when the seventh place match at 170 is being wrestled at the same time on the next mat. Our current structure makes wrestling less exciting by driving away fans. And, when we drive away fans, we also drive away those intermediate wrestlers who used to fill all the open weight classes we see today. Looking Ahead If wrestling really is dying, it’s only because we, as coaches and administrators, are killing it. It’s time to stop. It’s time to adopt matside weigh-ins to promote the health and safety of our wrestlers and to remove the incentive to cheat. It’s time to step away from the “more matches is better” mentality so that we can make our sport more appealing to fans and to potential wrestlers and their parents. We all love to talk about how wrestling builds character and teaches the value of hard work and endurance. Now let’s do more than talk about it. Let’s display those qualities we’ve developed through wrestling by attacking the problems our sport faces. Let’s work hard to find creative ways to enhance wrestling, and let’s endure in our efforts until the idea that “wrestling is a dying sport” is itself dead.
  11. Wrestling is a Dying Sport, But Only Because We Are Killing It. A few years ago, someone asked my former high school coach how his once-proud wrestling program was now barely able to field half of a varsity lineup. “Wrestling is a dying sport,” was the only response he could muster. At the time, my team boasted a full and competitive lineup. My C-team coaches had to work to find opportunities for all of our extra freshmen wrestlers to get matches. So of course, I dismissed my former coach’s conclusion as the lazy excuse of a man who had given up. “If you would just put in the work and find a little bit of creativity,” I thought, “you would have just as many wrestlers as I do.” Fast forward a few years and here I am, staring at seven open weight classes on the lineup card I’m about to submit for this weekend’s tournament. Of the 29 members of the class of 2016 who earned freshmen wrestling letters, two remain on the team. My fellow coaches and I spend hundreds of hours convincing boys to wrestle, teaching them the ins and outs of the sport, and guiding them through the struggles that make wrestling so beautiful. But most of them quit. And many of the wrestlers who remain fail to put in the work. Maybe the old coach was right. Maybe wrestling is dying. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would object to this claim, and some evidence suggests they might be right for doing so. The Purler brothers have built a very successful business while training elite high school wrestlers. Many of those wrestlers continue their careers in college, where they are experiencing more success than former Missouri high school wrestlers have in the past. Coach Brian Smith has built Mizzou into a perennial wrestling powerhouse. Just two months ago, over 42,000 fans packed into Kinnick Stadium to watch Iowa defeat Oklahoma state in a dual meet. Last year’s NCAA Championships set another record for attendance, and ESPN covered every match of the tournament. A quick glance at wrestling’s highest stage would seem to suggest the sport is thriving here in Missouri and in many other places around the country. But such a glance overlooks some disturbing developments at the sport’s foundation – youth and high school wrestling. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, participation in wrestling among 6-17 year olds declined almost 42% from 2009 to 2014. No other sport saw such a dramatic drop off. The National Wrestling Coaches Association says the average roster size among high school wrestling teams is at its lowest point since 1970. If wrestling is not dying, it is very sick. And the fact that this sickness is wreaking the most havoc at the youth and high school levels does not paint a rosy picture for the future. But I do not believe we have to sit idly by while this sickness spreads from wrestling’s foundation to its more glamorous levels. We can heal our sport. And the first step in the healing process is to recognize the causes of the illness. In my opinion, nothing causes more harm to wrestling than our current weight management practices and scheduling models. I. Weight Management My claim that weight management issues hurt wrestling is hardly original. Over the past two decades, national and state governing bodies have implemented numerous policies aimed at reducing the health hazards and stigma associated with cutting weight. Weigh-ins now occur 1-2 hours before competition. Wrestlers must complete body composition and hydration tests to establish their minimum eligible weight classes. Starting weights at dual meets are randomly drawn. All of these efforts have contributed to a weight-management environment that is far safer than it was when three college wrestlers died while cutting weight between November and December, 1997. Unfortunately, these efforts have also ignored the most obvious and best solution to the problem and, in doing so, have burdened already-overburdened coaches with hours of unnecessary busywork and have kept the door open for dishonest coaches and administrators to cheat the system. Matside weigh-ins are long overdue. Weighing in each wrestler at the beginning of each match would all but eliminate the extreme dehydration and starvation methods with which so many of my fellow ex-wrestlers and I are so familiar. A wrestler can convince himself it’s smart to drop eight pounds in a day only if he can also convince himself he will be ready to win a match once he’s had time to recover. By eliminating the post weigh-in recovery period, matside weigh-ins would also eliminate the appeal of rapid and unhealthy weight loss. In addition to improving the average wrestler’s nutrition and hydration level, matside weigh-ins would also reduce the number of injuries by removing the incentive to over-train shortly before competition. They would also reduce coaches’ workloads. Under our current system, high school coaches must arrange for each of their athletes to be assessed. Then they must map out each wrestler’s eligible weight classes for every competition date. As the season rolls on, they must monitor each wrestler’s weigh-in history and take note of any time a wrestler alters his minimum eligible weight by weighing in two weight classes above his minimum. Starting this year, the coach must also go back into the system after each weigh-in and enter each wrestler’s actual weight. All of this is required in an attempt to make weight management safer and more fair for the athletes, but in reality it increases the workload for coaches who already work 60+ hours during a typical in-season week without deterring dishonest coaches and administrators from cheating and endangering athletes. Anyone who’s been around high school wrestling over the past decade has undoubtedly asked the same question: “How could Wrestler A, who is built like a Mack Truck and has no perceivable body fat, certify for 126 when Wrestler B, who is visibly smaller with less muscle, is only certified for 132?” The answer that none of us like to admit is that Wrestler A cheated. Or someone cheated for him. And there are plenty of ways to cheat the weight certification test. In college I witnessed them firsthand. The only thing stopping some wrestlers and assessors from cheating is their integrity. I would prefer a fair policy over a policy that rewards cheaters, presuming a fair option exists. Fortunately, there is an option that is not only more fair but also less time consuming for coaches. It also does a better job of promoting the health and safety of our wrestlers. That option is matside weigh-ins.
  12. Hello fellow Missouri Wrestling fans. Below is a (perhaps long-winded) collection of my thoughts on the current state of our sport. I figured it might make for some fun conversation. Thank you in advance for reading. Jon Ott
  13. J Ott

    Eric Bowman

    Congrats to Eric. Nice to see him finish his high school career with a championship, especially after so much bad luck with injuries. Couldn't have happened to a better kid, either. He's as nice and respectful off the mat as he is mean on it.
  14. OK thanks for the input. Since you say so I'll go tell Espen to quit right away. It's too bad my college roommate didn't have your expert opinion when he was trying to figure out where to go to school. As an unrecruited 112 pound senior, he should have known that he would never amount to anything in college, especially in D-1. But unfortunately he was foolish enough to try it anyway. Now he's always stuck trying to figure out where to display his All-American trophy. Such a shame...
  15. Espen Conley Espen Conley will be wrestling for the Missouri Tigers.
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