Bono Meets the Media Prior to 2008 Mat Jam
Head Coach Chris Bono

Chattanooga Head Wrestling Coach Chris Bono

Transcript from pre-Southern Conference Championships news conference,

Wednesday, March 5, 2008



Q: How is the health and mindset of the team heading into Saturday's tournament?

A: Saturday is our conference tournament.  We are really excited.  The team is healthy, which is good. They all are doing a good job of managing their weight and hopefully getting ready to put on a good show Saturday.  These guys know it’s important.  It’s either win or go home.  We are looking to qualify all 10 guys for the NCAA Championships.  That is feasible.  It is feasible.  These guys can do it.  Hopefully we do it.  Not many teams in the country do it.  We had nine last year which tied Minnesota for most in the nation in Division I.  I’d like to get all 10 guys there, they all deserve it.  If we get all 10 guys there, we might be able to do some damage at the Tournament.


Q: What is it like having the conference tournament here in your hometown?

A: It is exciting.  Everybody here has worked really hard.  We are going to put on a really good show for everybody.  Just to have it in the Arena is great.  The guys are really excited to wrestle at home.  It’s a lot less stress.  No travel, no worries.  But there are also some distractions.  Family coming and looking for tickets and everyone wanting to get in free and they are harassing the kids and the kids are harassing me.  We just have to deal with it and get ready to wrestle.


Q: How does the 133-pound position look for you?  Health has been an issue there this year.

A: (Senior Steve Hromada) He’s healthy.  We just put him through a workout.  He’s healthy.  He’s positive which was a real problem late in the year.  You get hurt, you lose a few matches, you start becoming a little negative.  He’s positive.  He knows it’s a new season.  He can beat anybody in the conference.  I expect him to put on a good show.


Q: Talk about this group of seniors and what it has meant to the program.

A: We have a really good group of seniors.  I expect all of them to be conference champs.  At 197, we are going to be in a battle.  There is a really good kid there ranked I think No. 12 in the country.  But Matt Koz can wrestle with anybody in the country, and I’d love to see all of them leave as conference champs.  Josh Edmondson is going to be the No. 1 seed (at 184), Javier Maldonado is going to be the No. 1 seed at 125, and Rogers, who is the wrestler of the year for our conference is the No. 1 see at 174.  I expect them all to dominate and to be conference champs.


Q: Talk about the difference in wrestling at McKenzie Arena as opposed to Maclellan Gym (the Mocs’ home venue).

A: I talk to these guys.  It’s a step up.  But you know what?  We are going to go from wrestling in McKenzie Arena to wrestling in front of 20,000 people in St. Louis.  It’s a step up.  That’s part of the process.  When you wrestle in a dual meet, there are 2,000 people in the gym.  When you wrestle at the conference, we hope to wrestle in front of 5,000 to 6,000.  Then you get to go and perform in front of 22,000 people.  That’s what it is all about.  These guys are wrestling in their home arena.  Hopefully most of the fans are ours.  It should not be a problem.


Q: What can you do to prepare between now and that first match?

A: We’ll be done for the day here shortly (Wednesday).  We just had a 40-minute workout.  Friday it’s all about rest.  But it’s a little different resting for wrestling because we still have guys who have some weight issues and you have to be able to work to get the weight off.  But we are resting.  These guys don’t really know it, but we have been training through our dual meets to be ready for this tournament, so when we rest them for this tournament, they should feel like a million bucks.  This is something we have peaked for, and this is the only time we have peaked.  They should feel a difference.  It’s just about rest and mental preparation.


Q: What is that mental preparation?

A: Positive, positive thinking.  Our whole thing is you control what you think.  No one else can control what you think.  You don’t let losing get in your head.  Losing should never cross your mind.  What I try to preach to these guys is ‘you’ve done the work, the hard work is over.  You deserve to win.  You deserve to win.’  I truly believe nobody’s worked harder.  Nobody’s worked smarter than us, and you deserve to win.  That is my motto when I am wrestling is I deserve to win.  Somebody has to win the match, it might as well be me.  That’s the motto we preach.


Q: What does Javier Maldonado mean to this team?

A: Javi is awesome.  Just his attitude.  His attitude is great.  It all starts with his attitude.  He is probably the best one on the team.  He went through a little spell where he was losing.  He just put his nose back to the mat.  You never have to worry about his academics.  It’s awesome to not have to worry about someone’s academics.  He’s a good kid, a great kid.  We’re hoping to keep him around next year.  He wants to go to grad school, get his master’s degree, keep on training and try to get an Olympic medal.  That’s the model.   Javi is the model for our team right now, and we just have to keep recruiting guys like Javi and keeping them in the program.  I am hoping the best for him.  He deserves all the accolades he gets, and I’m hoping we can put him on the podium in St. Louis (at the NCAAs).  That would be a great ending to his college career.



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