On the Mat: ODU Sophomore Brennan Brumley
Jan. 5, 2011
One of the first goals that Old Dominion University head coach Steve Martin set when he became the head coach of the Monarchs was to build a program that would send multiple wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament and receive All-American honors, and in doing so build the program to nationally recognized status. When Brennan Brumley was making his college decision, he could have chosen to go to a more established program, but he decided he wanted to help build one instead.
Brumley was highly recruited coming out of Warren Woods Tower High School in Center Line, Mich. and at first had no real thoughts about going to college a long way from home.
"When I first got my packet from Old Dominion, I had never really heard of ODU before and kind of laughed it off," Brumley said. "I really didn't consider it much at all but coach started calling me and started talking to me. I decided to take a visit, saw a lot of things I liked, thought the program was headed in the right direction and thought I could help make it a better program."
At the time, he was looking at perennial powerhouses such as Ohio State, Nebraska and Central Michigan, but ODU stuck out in a different way.
"Those schools were already highly regarded programs, I thought it would be more rewarding to be a part of building a program instead of just another face on the wall," Brumley added.
Brumley had an outstanding high school career that saw him win many tournaments, including being a two-time county champ, four-time district champ, three-time regional champ and qualify for the state tournament four times, becoming a finalist three of those years. He also earned All-American honors by finishing sixth at the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) Tournament.
When he arrived in Norfolk he was able to watch and learn from senior Ryan Williams, who in the same weight class as Brumley, 141, took second place at the NCAA Championships.
"Ryan is a testament to the program, he never placed higher than seventh in the Pennsylvania State Tournament and came here and finished second at the NCAA Tournament," Brumley said. "That pretty much sums up what wrestling for coach Martin can do in this program. I know it inspired me as well as the rest of the team to go on and get that title." Coming out of high school Brumley was a raw wrestler who relied on his athletic ability and willpower more than anything.
"He has made huge technical improvements since he's been here," Martin said. "He has always been a tough, aggressive wrestler that won off of brute strength and mental toughness more than anything. He started to figure it out over the summer and has made a lot of gains."
The 2009-10 season was Brumley's first regular season action for the Monarchs. He went 17-10 overall, with three major decisions, two technical falls and four pins. Despite finishing second on the team in wins by a freshman, he was not happy with his first season as a starter.
"I don't consider last year a success, 17-10 is not where I'd like to be at all," Brumley said. "What I took out of last year is the drive to work harder and turn the corner and continue building on my competition. College wrestling is a lot higher pace, everybody is good. In high school you got some breaks, but in college, you have to be prepared for everyone."
Now in his second season and first as a starter from the beginning of the year, the Michigan native is 10-5 and 4-1 in dual matches. His 10 wins are tied for CAA best at 141-pounds. He started the year a little slow, taking fourth at the Hokie Open and going 2-2 at the Binghamton Open, but has won four of his last five matches, including a win over No. 23 and 2009 NCAA Qualifier, Tristen DeShazer of Northern Illinois. His only loss over that stretch was a 6-3 decision versus No. 11 Chris Drouin from Iowa State.
"The first two tournaments I don't think I wrestled up to my potential, but the coaching staff and myself have been reviewing tapes and going over techniques and feel that I've turned a corner," Brumley said.
The win over DeShazer is the third time in his brief career that Brumley has defeated an NCAA Qualifier after having done it twice last season, however, its not something Brumley pays much attention to.
"Honestly I had no clue who he (DeShazer) was until my teammates and coaches said something," Brumley said. "I don't look at names. It really doesn't matter, that's why we have matches. Rankings really don't do anything."
Brumley will be tested in the next few weeks, as ODU will face No. 8 American on Dec. 19. The Eagles' 141-pounder Matt Mariacher is ranked 16th in the nation. Also coming up is the Southern Scuffle, which is always a tough field that will include nine wrestlers ranked in the top-20 at 141.
"Even though he lost, he started to gain some confidence in the Iowa State match," Martin said. "Brennan's been one of our most consistent guys on the year. When 141 comes up, we expect to win."
Despite being just a sophomore, on a team with just four seniors, leaders are going to come from different places. Brumley has been one to take on that key role.
"He has made gains in his maturity and is a good team leader on and off the mat," Martin added. "He takes care of the little things and sets a good example for his teammates. He doesn't do a lot of talking, he leads by example."