By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER — Selecting a college is all about finding “the right fit,” and Tioga senior Austin Lamb believes he’s found just that at RIT, where he’ll continue his wrestling career after signing a National Letter-of-Intent here Wednesday afternoon in a brief ceremony in the high school foyer.
A three-time New York State place-finisher, and two-time Section IV champion, Lamb graduates from Tioga with 206 wins.
“It seemed like the right fit,” said Lamb. “I loved the campus, and the wrestlers seemed really cool.
“It felt like the right program,” he noted. “It’s an up-and-coming program, and that appealed to me.
“I liked the facilities, and the campus is not too big, so it’s comfortable for me in that respect,” Lamb added.
Lamb said he’ll compete for the starting spot at 149 pounds.
“It’ll be a big step up in competition, but I think I’ll adjust to it pretty well, especially since we’ve wrestled tough competition at Tioga.”
Lamb knows what he has to work on heading into the next level.
“Mainly, I need to work on my confidence,” he said. “I also need to move my feet a little more, work on getting into my ties, and more leg attacks. If I can do that, I should be in good shape.”
Tioga coach Kris Harrington agrees that confidence is one thing Lamb needs to work on.
“He just needs to believe he belongs. He needs to understand there is going to be some adversity at the start, and that it’s OK to fail a little bit. He just needs to be able to get back up after he fails.”
Harrington has little doubt Lamb will be successful at RIT.
“The reason Austin will succeed at the college level is his work ethic,” he said. “He’s one of the most dedicated wrestlers I’ve coached.
“He’s figured out systems in his wrestling that suit his skill set, and he doesn’t deviate from that,” noted Harrington. “Having a game plan and wrestling to his strengths and not his weaknesses, makes him very dangerous.”
Harrington also believes RIT is a good fit.
“I think RIT is the fastest rising program in Division III,” he said. “(Head coach) Jason (Bovenzi) is a great fit (for Austin) — he’s a player’s coach. Being a national champion himself, he understand what it takes.
“And, he has a young staff with two Division I All-Americans on it.
“I think they have a lot of talent in that room, and you’re going to see an upward swing in their development because the assistants can relate to their athletes,” noted Harrington, who believes Lamb could see time quickly.
“He’s projected at 149 pounds, and I think that’s a good fit for him. If he gets down to that weight, and maintains it, I think he can be successful right away.”
Former Tioga coach Josh Roe, who is now the high school principal, said the progression from the youth ranks to collegiate prospect has been a sight to behold.
“Austin struggled when he first came out for youth (wrestling), but you could tell he had the drive and the work ethic,” said Roe, who coached Lamb on varsity during his 7th- and 8th-grade seasons.
“He even wen as far as to go to gymnastics, which really helped his body awareness and kinesthetics.
“Austin was unbelievably driven, but he was hard on himself,” noted Roe. “He never made excuses for a setback, it was always his responsibility. He wasn’t an excuse-maker, which is something you don’t see often in young kids.
“From where he was to where he is now, has been such an incredible process,” Roe added. “To see what he developed himself into with hard work and determination has been amazing.”
Lamb will join Athens grads Chris Horton, Nate Bradley, and Kaidon Winters, who was an All-American this season, on the RIT roster.
IN PHOTO 1: Tioga’s Austin Lamb. IN PHOTOS 2-3: From left: Austin Lamb is flanked by his brother Jared Lamb, and parents Julie and Lance Lamb. IN PHOTO 4: From left: Tioga coach Kris Harrington, Jared Lamb, Julie Lamb, Austin Lamb, Lance Lamb, and Tioga assistant coach Ryan MacWhinnie. … PHOTOS COURTESY OF NICOLE BIRNEY.
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