Old Dominion Wrestler Chris Mecate Wins CAA Rookie of the Week Award
On Saturday, Jan. 12, the Old Dominion University wrestling team placed eighth out of 16 teams in the 2013 Virginia Duals held in Hampton. Although the team finished with an overall record of 1-2 in the tournament, one wrestler proved to be a dynamic young talent and a new challenge to overcome on the mat this season.
Redshirt freshman Chris Mecate of Highland, Cali. was named CAA Rookie of the Week following his 2-1 finish in his first ever Virginia Duals. For the 141-pounder, the news of his selection for the award initially came as a surprise. “I was a little shocked to be honest,” Mecate said, “I did lose this weekend, so I didn’t even know I was up for that award or anything. I mean I’ve done well, but I didn’t expect it.”
To begin his Virginia Duals debut, Mecate faced off against highly ranked Mitchell Port of Edinboro University. Despite a losing effort resulting in a 7-3 decision, the California native was far from deterred and moved on to defeat Kyle Bauer of Kent State (2-0) and Mark Erickson of North Dakota State (8-3). In spite of being a relatively new face to college wrestling, Mecate has experienced a great deal of success this season. He’s placed in five tournaments throughout the season and his two wins in the Virginia Duals has added to an already much improved record from last year’s 20-14 finish.
For many college athletes, love for their sport is often influenced by professional icons or older family members. As for Mecate, it was as simple as picking up the Sunday paper. “My dad was reading a newspaper article one day about a kid who was a wrestler,” Mecate said with a smile, “he showed me and I was like ‘I’ll try wrestling. Why not? I want to be like this kid!’
“So my dad found the best club in my area, I started going the very next week, and I stuck with it.” And stick with it he did. After going to the state championships three out of four years of high school and winning states his senior year, it was set in stone that collegiate wrestling was the next step for him.
Being from a state where wrestling isn’t a highly popular sport, Mecate’s skills on the mat stood out and colleges soon took notice. Ultimately Mecate chose to join Old Dominion’s wrestling team but it appeared that decision had been made years ago. “Well, the head coach runs these summer camps and used to come out to California like three times a summer. Every summer I would see Steve, I would train with him, and he would coach me. So I naturally felt a little more comfortable with Steve because I knew if I came out here it wouldn’t just be me by myself.”
Having a close relationship with head coach Steve Martin not only made the transition from the Golden State easier, but also somewhat familiar. From day one, Mecate was dedicated to Martin’s coaching routine, revolving his training around a notion that is encouraged to the team: doing the extra. But for Mecate this concept doesn’t stop just at wrestling. The young hopeful plans on taking his knowledge and skill from the mat and trying it out in the octagon. “Actually, I want to do mixed martial arts,” Mecate stated, “I’ll never forget when I was little I was at one of Steve’s camps in Huntington Beach California and MMA fighter Tito Ortiz came to the camp. I was a little 9-year-old kid when I saw him and that influenced my life.”
With an ultimate goal in mind, Mecate’s discipline is sure to propel him on the right path. At every level he has improved and by the end of the season Mecate plans to make a bold statement in the collegiate wrestling world. “I want to be nationally recognized,” Mecate said, “I want to get respected amongst the best in college and hopefully I’m doing the right things now for me to get it. It’s easy to say it but it doesn’t matter if you don’t do what you have to do.”
His confidence now boosted from last year, Mecate is set on a path with only one thing in mind: preparation for the NCAA tournament in March. Chris Mecate is shaping up to be a challenging opponent in the 141 pound division and he will be sure to turn heads in the seasons to come.
By: Evan Sparks