Sean Sesnan (55 kg) is like most of the athletes who comprise Williams Baptist College’s Greco-Roman team. He has experience; just not a whole lot of it. He also offers obvious ability — but as with the rest, he’s better-known for his pace and work ethic. It’s a tricky thing, the development of a US Greco athlete. The cycle calls for equal measures of unbridled humility and unwavering confidence. There is a fine line that needs to be observed so as not to step too far over onto one side. No doubt Sesnan has gotten to know this line very well coming out of WBC’s first full season on the circuit.
The majority of American athletes throughout the 2017-18 campaign were forced to hurry up and wait when it came to competition. Early November ushered in the Dave Schultz Memorial, but it wasn’t until the Bill Farrell Memorial in late March when the next opportunity to get some matches in presented itself. Sesnan was there in New York, a runner-up to last year’s Junior Trials champ Isaiah Varona (Garage Boyz). He was one of two medalists for Williams on the day, as his teammate Duncan Nelson (67 kg) managed to pick up an impressive bronze.
More matches came quickly. Sesnan showed up for the three Trials tournaments he was qualified for — U23, Junior, and Senior. It was at the Senior event when it seemed to start clicking. After a quick loss to eventual champ Sam Hazewinkel (Sunkist), Sesnan engaged in one of the event’s most gripping battles. Taking on sizzling talent Jabari Moody (NYAC) in a rematch from the U23 Trials, Sesnan overcame a 7-0 first-period deficit to wind up winning on criteria. He didn’t advance any further, but the raucous victory did not go unnoticed. Sesnan, it seems, is beginning to put it together.
Since then, Sesnan has been back home in Tennessee continuing his training in anticipation of WBC Year 2. Mild mannered and gracious, he sure is. But Sesnan believes in his program, and in himself, as well. Which is why he can’t wait to get back to work in Arkansas later in the month.
Sean Sesnan — 55 kg, WBC
5PM: What is the genesis behind your winding up at Williams Baptist in the first place?
Sean Sesnan: I was training at a school called Wosbo, it’s a club here in Nashville. (US National Team head coach Matt) Lindland came up for a camp and Nick Boykin and Tommy Brackett were there. (Kerry) Regner was also in town, I don’t remember why, but he swung by. I started talking to him because I knew one of the wrestlers at Williams. Then I started the recruiting process and I heard they were going to have a Greco team out there, so I was all about that because Greco is my favorite style. Then I came up for a couple of visits, I just fell in love with the school, and there I was, starting at Williams.
5PM: Does the school’s Christian background serve as an attraction for you?
Sesnan: Yes, it did. I’m a Christian Ministries major, so that was the icing on the cake. I got to do Greco and pick the major I’ve been wanting to do.
5PM: You did have age-group experience coming into all this, winning Tennessee Greco state titles and everything else you accomplished. So you knew what Greco was about. But did you know beforehand that there was going to be a little bit of a difference between Greco at the youth and Senior levels?
Sesnan: Well, I watched a lot of Greco on Flowrestling when they would cover it and stuff like that, so I knew there was a little bit of a difference, I just didn’t know how much until I got to Williams and saw the style match-ups. Like wrestling with Chris (Allen), my style versus his. He had been to the Olympic Training Center and competed in the Pan Ams. I noticed little things, but they weren’t too big because I had a good coach in Nashville (Jeremy Welder). I wasn’t too far behind but I was still pretty behind.
5PM: A lot of Williams Greco athletes are crossovers from the folkstyle program. From your vantage point, have you been impressed with the strides made from your teammates as far as picking up technique and getting the style down?
Sesnan: Oh, for sure. We train all the time. We’re always practicing. I’ve seen just over the course of this year huge leaps ahead in our technique and our confidence wrestling in the tournaments from where we started off at.
5PM: How have you done thus far with the same-day weigh-ins at 55 kilos?
Sesnan: Actually, it hasn’t been a problem at all. I only walk around at like, 58 kilos most days, so it hasn’t been a hard cut at all. It has just been a little bit of a diet change and working out.
5PM: The main thing with Williams early on, and your coach (Jonathan Drendel) has alluded to this on the record, is that aggression and conditioning are two important keys until your collective technique catches up. Do you think that’s an accurate way to say it?
Sesnan: For sure. Coach tells us to go out there and get to our throws and get to our ties, and not to sit back and let the other guy dictate the match. To take the fight to him.
5PM: Do you like the increased physicality that this style of Greco offers?
Sesnan: Oh yeah, I love it. You’re always in ties with the person. You’re right there. There is no getting away from anybody, no dancing around or anything. You have to be in there getting to your ties and not panicking getting to your stuff.
5PM: It’s clear that you possess the potential to really boost your development, and in Tulsa, you had what I think is your biggest win to date over Jabari Moody. Does a win like that do a lot for your confidence at this stage of your young career?
Sesnan: Yes, it was fun while I was out there. It gave me a good confidence boost because he had tech’ed me earlier in the month. But I’m just glad it fell my way this time.
5PM: Joining you next season will be a kid everyone is talking about, Anthony King, who won Fargo freestyle and finished runner-up in Greco. Is he immediately seen by you as a huge benefit to have for a workout partner?
Sesnan: I’m very excited to have him. He came on a visit. I like talking to him and we still talk a little bit now and text and stuff. I’m just really excited to have someone of that caliber in the room to train with.
5PM: What have you been doing during the summer until school comes back? Have you been getting workouts on your own, going to a club?
Sesnan: I’ve been going to my local gym and wrestling with a couple of guys. I’ve been doing that a couple of times a week, staying fresh.
5PM: How has your dynamic with Coach Drendel evolved over the season? What are the changes he’s made in you, and also, are there any changes you’ve noticed in him?
Sesnan: I love Coach Drendel. I’ve liked him since my visits and he’s awesome. Yeah, he’s very personal, I guess is how I’d say it, with the wrestlers. He’ll watch your matches, how you wrestle, and tell you what he thinks would be the best for your style. That is the kind of stuff you focus on.
I’ve also seen him relax more as a coach and become more confident. I don’t know, I like him as my coach.
5PM: There are two schools of thought for developing athletes. One says getting in as much competition as possible, while the other is based on being very choosing with when you compete and instead focusing on training blocks. Which do you prefer at this point?
Sean Sesnan: Well, I like both of them, but I prefer to get matches in. To get in as many matches as I possibly can and get the mat time that way.
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