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Lovejoy’s last shot: 2014-15 wrestling preview

Cody Lovejoy after a victory at last year's national championships. Lovejoy finished seventh at nationals and is the back-to-back OAC heavyweight champion. (ONU sports photo/ Sports information)

Cody Lovejoy after a victory at last year's national championships. Lovejoy finished seventh at nationals and is the back-to-back OAC heavyweight champion. (ONU sports photo/ Sports information)

A lot has happened since Cody Lovejoy began his college wrestling career in 2011. Two national championship appearances, 101 wins, two Elite 89 awards and two OAC heavyweight titles. Three added inches and 85 pounds of hard-earned muscle.

“Like any sport at the college level, it’s more mental than it is physical,” Lovejoy said. “If you’re competing, you should have the physical abilities, or else you’re just going to get destroyed. Most of it is just putting in the time, effort and hard work that you need to be confident to be one of the best; the rest is just going out there and executing.”

Lovejoy is coming off of a seventh-place finish at nationals his junior year. He is a back-to-back OAC heavyweight champion and posted 43 wins last season, which is second-most in school history. He set the school record for pins in a season, with 24. Lovejoy was named to the Academic All-American first team, and won his second Elite 89 award, an award for the student with the highest GPA at the national tournament.

So, where does he go from here?

“Obviously we want him to repeat as an All-American, to place higher than last year, and the ultimate goal is to be a national champion,” head coach Ron Beaschler said, "but I’m not going to talk to him about being a national champion until he advances past the national semifinals.”

At nationals last year, Lovejoy believes that he lost some of the patience that had helped him win earlier in the season, and it cost him.

“All year long I had been patient and wrestled well, and as soon as I got to nationals I got impatient and that’s where I lost both of my matches,” Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy has some individual goals for himself as well. He says he will focus on “getting takedowns in the first period, scoring points early and often, controlling matches and winning by more than just a decision.”

Entering this season, Lovejoy is weighing approximately 255 pounds. However, he wasn’t always this big. Lovejoy believes that competing at a lighter weight has helped him fundamentally as a wrestler.

“I wasn’t a heavyweight when I learned how to wrestle, and I didn’t become a heavyweight until I got to college,” Lovejoy said. “I had all the basics and fundamentals that I needed to be able to apply as I got bigger, and since college wrestling is such a basic sport- your basic moves win matches, not the big, fancy moves- I learned those when I was smaller, so I could transfer them over.”

As a team, the Polar Bears are coming off of a 9-9 season, finishing fourth in the OAC. After two consecutive years of conference-winning teams, ONU sunk to a 1-4 record in the OAC.

“We had a young lineup and were not quite as good as we should’ve been,” Lovejoy said. “We had a lot of key injuries and some poor personal decisions by some of my teammates, resulting in them no longer being on the team. But ultimately we were young, we learned a lot, and this year we bring back three returning guys in the weight classes that they actually wrestled.”

Those returners are Lovejoy, junior Tyler Gargano (174) and junior Colt Lovejoy (165), Cody’s brother. Both Gargano and Colt Lovejoy placed at regionals last spring. Sophomore Gennar Feucht and senior Cole Cochran are also returning starters for the Polar Bears.

“This year we’re looking to see a lot of improvement,” Lovejoy said. “I’m excited about having a young lineup that gives us a lot of potential for growth towards the end of the season.”

The Polar Bears open up the season this weekend in Rhode Island at the Roger Williams Invitational, where ONU will face nationally-ranked competition from the Northeast. They will also face challenging opponents at the Lycoming (PA) Duals on January 9 and 10, as well as at the Wheaton (IL) Invitational on January 30 and 31.

“Just about every tournament we go to is going to have very good competition, and will have returning All-Americans in it. That’s the thing about wrestling; in one tournament, it might be really tough for Cody, but in another weight class there maybe aren’t as many good guys, and in another tournament it could be the other way around,” Beaschler said. “All of the tournaments we go to are designed to get the best competition that we can find in the country.”

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