NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma wrestling team hosted boosters and media at its annual Takedown Luncheon Thursday afternoon at the Kerr-McGee Courtside Club in the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman.
After remarks by head coach Jack Spates, senior Wes Roberts and freshman Jerome Featherstone, the wrestling team performed a skit for the crowd.
Just under a week before OU takes the mat to determine its regular season starters, Spates, junior Teyon Ware and sophomore Sam Hazewinkel discussed the upcoming season with the media at the conclusion of the program.
2004 Takedown Luncheon Photo Gallery
Head Coach Jack Spates
On the upcoming season:
"We have been top four in the country four out of the last five years, top three two of the last three years and won two of the last five Big 12 Championships. Last year we were ninth in the nation and that was with six freshman, so the future bodes well. We have a real strong squad and we are ranked sixth in the country. We have a group of great kids so it should be a fun year."
On Teyon Ware:
"Teyon is healthy finally and he is really eager and working really hard. Last year he had a ruptured vertebra in his back and a high ankle sprain which caused him to miss several months at the end of the season. He was still a point away from the final and finished sixth in the NCAA (Tournament)."
On the youth of team:
"We have a team that can challenge for the national championship, absolutely. We are not favored. We would have to have everyone come through and it can happen and that is our goal."
Junior Teyon Ware
On his health:
"I feel extremely well right now. I have been practicing hard. Last season was difficult because I had to deal with something that has never happened to me before which was injuries. I am very excited about the season. Over the summer I worked on things that I needed to work on."
On last year's injuries:
"I really don't see my injuries as that big of a deal but they (coaches) say it is, but I'm not finished. I am back and I am ready to look past those things and look toward the future and look forward to the season ahead."
On youth of team:
"We do have a young team but these guys are ready to battle and you will see a difference compared to last year. We are young but we will not use that as an excuse. These guys are excited to get in there and battle and do their jobs."
On last season compared to the year before:
"It was a disappointment, but coach told me that being an All-American is an amazing thing, but I still felt like I failed myself. All-American is a big deal, but to me second through eighth is all the same. I knew I had the capabilities of being on top and that is how I worked, but that is how everyone works. I still felt like last year was a disappointment but that also gave me the motivation for this season, not only team-wise but individually."
Sophomore Sam Hazewinkel
On this year:
"There are a lot of tough guys in the weight class. One thing about college wrestling is on any given day someone can beat you. They're all right at that same level so I can't think that I have it made but at the same time I tell myself all the time that I'm on a different level than those guys. I have to work to prove that to others and constantly prove that to myself so that I can stay at the top."
Having more confidence this year:
"I wrestled a little timid last year. I did not wrestle to not lose, I wrestled to just win. I would get the lead and then go into defense and that is not my style and that is not what I like to do and I hope to correct that this year.
On the team:
"I am really excited about the team this year. We had some adversity this summer but everything worked out real well. We are going to be better for it and obviously last year a lot of guys were freshman starters. Guys have gained a year of knowledge and experience. In wrestling, experience is huge and a lot of the time the more experienced guy wins. "