Ambrocio, Sanders chasing All-American dream together
Concordia University Wisconsin wrestlers Sean Ambrocio and Greg Sanders have been competing together for several years now. Both attended Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas, and decided to attend CUW to wrestle prior to the 2011-2012 season. This weekend at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships the duo will again attempt to share an honor on the mat as they attempt to become All-Americans.
Ambrocio is returning to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season. The 125 lb. sophomore finished one win shy of becoming an All-American last season after going 3-2 at the championships.
"Last year I came up just short, which was frustrating because I really wanted to be named an All-American," says Ambrocio, who enters the weekend with a 26-match winning streak. "I've waited a whole year and trained hard to get back to nationals and show them what I can do."
Ambrocio learned a lot from last season's trip and hopes he can lean on that experience as he attempts to become one of the best in the country. He is one of only five wrestlers at the 125 lb. weight class to return from last year's event.
"Last season was a great experience for me to be able to compete at nationals," Ambrocio says. "I feel I learned from that and it will help me improve this year."
While Ambrocio is entering his second championship tournament, his former high school and current teammate, Sanders will be competing at his first NCAA Championships this weekend. Sanders suffered an injury at the regional meet last year, forcing him to miss the final bout.
"Last season I was really hoping to be able to go and compete at nationals but was unable to do so," says Sanders. "I worked really hard this offseason and have my goals set on reaching this tournament all season."
Sanders enters the weekend with a 36-4 overall record, which helped him earned the No. 6 seed in the 149 lb. bracket after placing second at the regional meet two weeks ago. While Sanders may be a first time competitor on the national stage, he knows he can turn to his long-time teammate for advice on what to expect at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
"I have definitely turned to Sean on expectations for this weekend," says Sanders. "We have always been there for each other and will continue to rely on each other at the championships."
While the duo has a very strong relationship, both admitted that they are incredibly competitive, always trying to one-up each other.
"Our relationship is a good one because we make each other better," says Sanders. "We are constantly trying to outdo one another whether on the wrestling mat, or even in something like sprints in practice."
That competitive attitude is what helped each wrestler get to this point in the season, something they both have been striving for since the end of last year.
"This has been in my mind all season long," Sanders said, when referring to trying to qualify for the national tournament. Ambrocio agreed stating: "It's something you're always thinking about and after last season's finish I was hungry to get back."
No matter the outcomes of the talented duo this weekend, both can agree that representing Concordia University Wisconsin and competing at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships is an experience they will never forget.