If all of his wrestlers turn out as well as Seth Garvin, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Chris Bono will have no complaints.
A two-time conference champion and two-time NCAA qualifier, Garvin is one of six Mocs in St. Louis for the NCAA championships that begin Thursday.
"I will never have a problem with a guy who has a work ethic like that which Seth has displayed," Bono said. "He has put the work in. He has had a good career. Hopefully he can finish with a national championship or All-America honors. That would cap a great career."
Garvin, UTC's only senior starter, had a team-best 23-9 record this year with wins over 10th-ranked Trevor Stewart of Central Michigan and fellow NCAA qualifier Matt Pletcher of Rutgers, his second straight All-Southern Conference selection and a .733 career win percentage (63-23).
"I feel I have worked harder than anybody else and that everything has come together," said Garvin, a four-time state champion at Homewood, Ala. "I feel that I can take anyone down, that I can defend anyone's shot and that I can hold anyone down."
Other Mocs in St. Louis
125 - Demetrius "Bucky" Johnson
141 - Cody Cleveland
149 - Dan Waddell
157 - Joey Knox
174 - Jason McCroskey
When the Mocs boarded the vans Tuesday afternoon for the trip, Garvin was ready to begin practicing the tournament preparation he has learned from Bono.
"Bono talks about getting into my shell, cutting myself off from the rest of the world," he said. "I want to start focusing on myself and what I need to do to win. That is getting enough quality sleep and not getting caught up in friends' dramas or pressure from the outside."
Garvin said one of his major problems has been preparing mentally, and he plans to implement tips from Bono, a former NCAA and World Cup champion.
"It isn't so much about winning or losing as it is about controlling what I can control. Positive thoughts bring positive actions," Garvin said. "I want to focus on my moves and set-ups and creating opportunities. I'm going to think before my matches about how hard I have pushed myself."
In a Monday practice his gray sweats were drenched from collar to ankle. He walked with a squeak from the perspiration that had soaked into his socks and still pooled in his shoes.
"I have pushed myself," Garvin said. "I wanted to push myself so hard that I couldn't breathe. I want to recall those moments and realize I have done everything I could to prepare for this week."
Whether he wins a championship, gets to the championship match, earns All-America status or has to settle for being a two-time tournament qualifier, Garvin will leave UTC with a diploma and the belief that he gave it his best.
"I will leave with my head held high," he said. "I have won two conference championships and been a part of two conference championship teams. I have had the opportunity to wrestle with and against world-class athletes. I've held nothing back.
"The chances I have received here are the kind that other people can only dream about."
Garvin will leave a void that someone will eventually fill, but he has left a lasting mark on the program.
"Seth has been everything a coach could want," Bono said, "from the way he worked to his leadership skills. He has believed in everything I have said. He's been good for the younger guys, so his time has been good, and UTC and this program are better for his having been here."