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Mids Kick Off Wrestling Season at Coppin State Open



ANNAPOLIS, Md. The Navy wrestling team, ranked eighth in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) preseason poll, will open its 2000-01 season Saturday at the Coppin State Open in Baltimore, Md. "I'm excited to see how our guys compete against outside competition," first-year head coach Bruce Burnett said. "I am looking to see how their conditioning level is this weekend and technically, I am looking to see how the finish their leg attacks. We have a little more than 30 wrestlers competing, and it will be a good tune up for us before heading to the West Virginia Open next weekend. I am just excited to see the team in action." Burnett is fresh off his third Olympic coaching stint where he served as the 2000 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Coach in Sydney, Australia. He previously served on the 1992 and '96 Olympic coaching staffs. Now Burnett has arrived at the Naval Academy and is ready to leave his mark in Annapolis. "My job is to help our guys win wrestling matches," Burnett said. "Not just some of their matches, not most of their matches, we want to win them all. That is the attitude I want the athletes and the coaching staff to take. We want to win for the Naval Academy and for the individual athletes." When Burnett talks about the Navy wrestling team, one word keeps popping up over and over - committment. "The strength in this team is our hard work and committment to the sport of wrestling," Burnett said. "The guys are making a committment that wrestlers at regular universities make, so they have a chance to succeed. They are doing a great job of budgeting their time. As long as they make that committment, they will continue to improve." Last season, the Mids finished 6th at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Wrestling Championship out of 13 teams. According to the preseason rankings, the EIWA projects Navy to finish eighth in the league. However, several upperclassmen will have something to say about that. Leading the Mids into battle this fall will be team captain, Mark Newman, Newman, a senior from Mayer, Minn., wrestled in the 174-pound weight class last year and posted a 14-9 record last year. Newman began the year on a tear, winning nine of his first ten matches and will look to build on a successful junior campaign. Newman is ranked third in the 174 class according to the EIWA preseason rankings. "Mark has done a good job of being a leader. He is the captain and has accepted that role and done a good job. I expect a lot out of him this year," Burnett said. Junior Mike Bigrigg had a solid sophomore year, posting a 22-12 record, wrestling in the 184-pound weight class. Like Newman, Bigrigg started hot, winning 15 of his first 20 matches. The EIWA ranked Bigrigg fifth in the 197-pound class to begin the season. "I expect them to take a leadership role on this team," Burnett said. "It does not have to be vocal. I want them to lead by example and at the present time, they are doing that. They do not complain and they work hard."
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