The Road to the Podium Part II
Things looked easy for sophomore Ken Theobold on the first day of competition at the EIWA Championships.
The 149-pounder only wrestled for a little more than four and a half minutes on his way to the semifinals, following two first-round wins by fall.
Following the easy first day, Theobold exclaimed how nice the facilities were inside the media room at The Palestra before offering how pleased he was with his performance on the first day.
“I’m feeling good. I’m just really positive about today,” Theobold said. “I haven’t wrestled Princeton’s [Richard Krop] before, but I knew he was a tough kid bumping up from 141 to 149. I just wanted to go out there and wrestle hard.”
The second day for the semifinalist did not go as planned. Theobold dropped a 3-1 decision against top-seeded Christopher Villalonga of Cornell.
Still searching for one win to become an NCAA Qualifier, Theobold rebounded from his loss earlier in the day with a commanding 9-1 decision following three takedowns and a near fall.
After an impressive win, an injury default gave Theobold third place at 149 pounds in the tournament.
After a productive conference tournament and a strong finish to the end the season, things are going according to plan for the Toms River, N.J., native.
“I had a really good performance this weekend. I’ve been training to peak at the right time,” Theobold said. “I am peaking at the right time, which is now. I’m excited to have the chance to go to nationals.”
Head coach Scott Goodale reiterated those same sentiments.
After finishing the season strong, Theobold will be a tough wrestler to draw in the NCAA tournament, Goodale said.
“He’s just peaking at the right time. He’s confident in himself that he can beat anybody and really, truly believes that,” Goodale said. “He’s peaking and wrestling really well.”
The opportunity to make it to the tournament is a testament to all the hard work Theobold has put in during the regular season in preparation for the postseason.
“Kenny is definitely one of our hardest workers we have in our program,” said assistant coach Frank Molinaro. “He had a slow start this season, but he has gotten better every week. I think he is already better than he was last weekend.”
Molinaro, who works primarily with Theobold, knows what it means to be an All-American — Molinaro was an All-American all four years he was at Penn State and won a National Championship in 2012.
Reaching the podium is a shared goal amongst the program and Theobold has a good shot, according to Molinaro.
“I think Kenny is capable of being an All-American. I’m expecting him to get on the podium and compete,” Molinaro said. “He’s going to be going up against a lot of guys ranked ahead of him, but Kenny has a style that is very difficult to prepare for. The guys he is going to face are guys that haven’t seen him all year. These guys haven’t wrestled Kenny and will overlook a guy like Kenny.”
For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.