Wrestling team transitions under new leadership

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Wrestling team transitions under new leadership

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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Going into his first year as Baker University head wrestling coach, Pete Di Pol found the initial culture shock of moving from New Jersey to Kansas far easier than expected.

“(Former head coach Jimmy) May has been a great mentor to me, helping me get established,” Di Pol said. “My assistant Levi Calhoun has also been great, and we all have a great rapport. All the other coaches and the athletic director, all the way up to the (university) president have been supportive and made me feel at home here.”

BU’s wresters will open their season at home on Sunday when the Wildcats host the fifth annual Dan Harris Open at 9 a.m. in Collins Center.

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1-on-1 with Pete Di Pol

Despite all of the support he has received, coaching a new group of wrestlers who were recruited under another coach has been a tough transition for both Di Pol and the team.

“I think it’s always hard at first, because you’re so used to style, and then I come in with a different style,” Di Pol said. “I think they’ve handled the transition well, because we have focused on good communication. We talk to them a lot, and I think they see my philosophy and the way I run things. They like it for the most part, and the things they don’t like we talk about.”

Although May stepped down as head coach, he still works with his former student-athletes on occasion.

“Coach May has come in a couple times to work with our guys, and it gets them happy and excited, and they’re motivated to be successful,” Di Pol said.

Di Pol finds the team’s effort and dedication to improvement refreshing. One freshman in particular has him excited about the upcoming season.

“I would say, I’m really impressed with Aaron Seybold,” Di Pol said. “I like his work ethic. I think he’s going to shock a lot of people, not being nationally ranked, but he really knows about it.”

Di Pol also found upperclassmen to take on leadership roles, which helps with the coaching change.

“I like our leadership,” he said. “We have Parker Owe,n who is an All-American, and Rob Shadrach, and Alan Callahan. To be honest, I’m really impressed with all our guys right now.”

In the offseason, the Wildcats moved up one spot in the national ranking, improving to No. 14 in the NAIA Top 20 preseason coaches’ poll.

“Yeah, we’re ranked 14th, but our goal is to get a national championship every year,” Di Pol said. “We have a lot of great guys on this team, and I think that’s the only mindset you can have.”