PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The road to Oklahoma City (OKC), the site of this year's wrestling NCAA Championships, officially begins on Nov. 17 when the Brown wrestling team heads to the East Stroudsburg Open to kick off the 2013-14 season. In their first campaign under Head Coach Todd Beckerman, the Bears look to build upon the success of last season that saw Brown finish 11th at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships and send two wrestlers to the NCAA Championships.
The team has adopted the slogan "Rhode 2 OKC", a play on words to describe the Bears' plan to journey from College Hill to the NCAA Championships. The phrase can be heard frequently at practices and team meetings and is plastered as a hashtag all over the team's social media pages. "The simple mantra helps the squad stay focused on the whole season and hold each other accountable," said Beckerman. "The only way we can be successful at the NCAAs is if we are in it together each day, from every practice and regular season competition all the way through those three days in March."
HITTING THE ROAD EARLY
With the exception of the season-opening intrasquad Brown and White Wrestle-Offs on Nov. 9, the Bears start the year with nine straight road competitions. The Navy Classic on Nov. 23 features a handful of EIWA and Ivy League opponents as well as Big Ten and Big 12 foes.
"The schedule is set up to test the team throughout the year," insisted Beckerman. "Our team will have the opportunity to face competition during the regular season that they will wrestle against at the EIWA conference and NCAA national tournament, which is a huge training opportunity as we prepare for March."
Beckerman continued that the team has a lot of returning wrestlers who are hungry for competition. Many are looking to make their mark before graduation.
The first weekend of December sends Brown to Las Vegas for the two-day Cliff Keen Invitational, and a three-week breather leads to the Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill., to pit the Bears against adversaries from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Mid-American Conference and Pac-12.
Brown spends all of January away from home with the Franklin & Marshall Open on Jan. 4 and the Boston University Duals on Jan. 12. The Bears head to Bucknell for a tri-meet against the Bison and Clarion on Jan. 18 and then open Ivy League competition the following weekend at Cornell.
THE HOME STRETCH
The team finally hits the mat in the Pizzitola Sports Center on Feb. 8-9 when the Bears host Penn, Princeton and Johnson & Wales during Alumni Weekend in the first of three consecutive home competitions. Brown hosts Harvard and Boston University on Feb. 15, followed by Lehigh for a Senior Night throwdown on Feb. 22.
The Bears close out the regular season at Columbia on Feb. 23 and then prepare for the EIWA Championships in Philadelphia on Mar. 8-9. Brown then gets the chance to realize its long-awaited goal when the road leads the Bears to the NCAA Championships on Mar. 20-22 in Oklahoma City.
"There is a lot of excitement for the season – in the wrestling room and with alumni, family and friends," Beckerman finished. "We are all on the 'Rhode 2 OKC' together, and we are excited to see where it leads."
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