New Coach wants more fans, titles

New wrestling coach Steve Garland, at 29, has taken over a program that went 12-5 last year but hasn’t won a team ACC title since 1974.
    “All that matters in wrestling is how many All-Americans you have, how many guys you’re bringing to the big dance, and did you win ACCs or not,” says Garland. “That’s all that [Athletic Director] Craig Littlepage and people here want to know…and that’s what we’re going for.”
The former assistant head coach at Cornell University, Garland has moved from the wrestling town of Ithaca, New York, to Charlottesville, which is, apparently, nowhere on the spectrum of wrestling fandom. As Virginia wrestling’s new head coach, though, the former UVA All-American is determined to get his guys more fans and more titles.
    To do that, Garland is focusing on short and hard practices and fostering a team mentality among his wrestlers. “That’s what’s interesting about wrestling. We want to win a team ACC title,” Garland says. “The cool thing is, if you focus on the individual part of it, the team effort takes care of itself.”
    Garland’s also reaching out to the public to come to more matches. “You think it’s an underdog sport, wrestling in general, but this area, Central Virginia really needs more work… We’re looking to get more people in the stands and get more people excited about Virginia wrestling.”
    UVA wrestling is also aiming to become a top-drawing program, with a renovation to their practice facilities in Onesty Hall and recruits like Rocco Caponi, freestyle Junior National champion (the country’s biggest amateur wrestling event) and Brent Jones, a Greco-Roman wrestler who was the No. 2 high school recruit in the country. “Virginia sells itself,” says Garland. “If we can convince the top kids in the country to come see this place—I haven’t had anybody come here and say, ‘Man, that place was terrible.’”
    Garland hints there are more top recruits headed for the program. “I can’t comment on specifics yet, but recruiting’s going very well,” he says.
    The Cavaliers’ first meet of the season is November 11—they wrestle Delaware State, George Mason and Liberty.

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