With wrestling's regular season winding down, teams are beginning to position themselves for the stretch run and a chance to qualify for districts and states.
Part of getting to those tournaments, however, starts with the grind of the dual meets and team tournaments throughout the season where teams and individual wrestlers establish themselves to qualify for the postseason.
The differences between the dual meets and team tournaments during the season are wide-ranging and force coaches to prepare their teams differently, both mentally and physically. Jim Thorpe coach Shawn Albert enjoys being able to take part in both as he feels they each benefit the team in different ways.
"I like dual matches in the beginning of the year because it gives me, our coaching staff and our team an opportunity to really start bonding," Albert said. "We learn from each other by watching each other and build continuity."
Albert believes that the duals help the teams prepare for the bigger tournaments they will take part in later in the season, such as the Schuylkill League Tournament this past weekend.
"We're now into our individual tournaments, which is good," said Albert. "Systematically, what we're trying to do is get them used to long days and they have to be very individualized.
"They have to know how to handle defeat, victory and move forward."
Tamaqua coach Jon Mashack echoed Albert's sentiments regarding the importance of preparing for longer days at the tournaments.
"We push conditioning a little more for a tournament in the days leading up to it because they're going to be wrestling multiple matches over the same day," Mashack said. "So we definitely work on that a little bit more.
"We also try to make sure they're warmed up before each match and have them try to take a mental picture of the match that way they're prepared mentally and physically."
The teams still have to put in the work on a daily basis, no matter where they're wrestling.
"We still drill day in and day out," Mashack said. "Make sure that we look at the mistakes they made from prior matches and focus on them.
"But pick up the conditioning a little bit more prior to the longer days."
While much of the focus is on what is done to physically prepare, there is also a different mindset that teams and coaches have when competing in a dual meet or a tournament.
Panther Valley coach Tim Robb acknowledges that fact that teams are less conservative when competing in the larger tournaments.
"In dual meets, you're looking to save team points," Robb remarked. "In tournaments, if you're losing, go for it.
"A headlock, getting thrown to your back in the last 30 seconds when you're down 7-8 doesn't matter."
Robb said that the coaching techniques also change when approaching a match in a tournament.
"There's definitely a different approach when we talk to a kid before a match," said Robb. "In a tournament you're wiling to try things in a match when you're losing that you wouldn't in a dual."
MASHACK OUT ... Tamaqua wrestler Colin Mashack has been sidelined due to a concussion. Mashack, a state medalist a year ago, had initially missed time due to the flu but headaches remained an issue. Mashack, who is 15-0 this season, was evaluated and it was determined that he had a concussion. There is no timeline for his return at this time.
PANTHER VALLEY SUCCESS ... Panther Valley had a productive Schuylkill League Tournament this past weekend. Lenny Ogozalek took gold at 106 while Rian Shubeck also claimed gold at 285 for the Panthers. Ricahrd Nase took second at 195, dropping a 6-4 decision to Williams Valley's JR Rummel, who is 19-1 this season.