No Ordinary Freshman
By ANDREW MIKULA -
Daytona Beach News.......
Stephen DeAugustino didn't waste any time making his mark at UCF, and credits his days at Flagler Palm Coast High School for his success.
DeAugustino set a school record for career wrestling victories at FPC High School during his four years in the program.
His 152 career wins included four Five Star Conference weight class titles -- a feat matched by only two others in conference history -- and two trips to the state Class 3A state wrestling tournament. He was third in the state as a junior and fifth as a senior.
As graduation loomed, DeAugustino, the son of longtime FPC head coach Steve DeAugustino, wanted to continue his wrestling and turned his sights to collegiate wrestling opportunities. This winter, the University of Central Florida freshman and teammate T.J. Gillin -- both 2007 FPC graduates -- joined the school's club wrestling teams and got chances to crack the starting lineup.
UCF competes in the NCWA (National Collegiate Wrestling Alliance) which is a nonscholarship organization of collegiate wrestling programs not under the aegis of the NCAA. Although wrestling at UCF and other schools was cut out to help the university achieve Title IX objectives, the club NCWA programs offer opportunities for wrestlers to continue with the sport they love at a high level of competition. The Knights actually compete in the Southeastern Conference.
Late this season, UCF had a number of wrestlers, including DeAugustino and Gillin, qualify for the national NCWA tournament in mid-March at the Lakeland Center. DeAugustino wrestled at 133 pounds and earned All-American status in his first try with a seventh-place finish after going 5-2, while Gillin went 3-2 and came up one match shy of placing at 141 pounds. As a team, the Knights were third, 13 points behind champion Grand Valley State and two behind runner-up Newman University.
DeAugustino sat down for an e-mail interview with The News-Tribune to talk about his first year of wrestling at UCF and the training and sacrifice that went into it.
Questions and Answers with Stephen DeAugustino
Q. First of all, congratulations on placing at the NCWA national meet at Lakeland, Steve. That was a big tournament with a 32-man bracket, but you were used to that at Flagler Palm Coast with some tournaments like the Rotary. Tell us about the competition. What was the tournament atmosphere like?
Thanks Andy. Yeah, the competition is really tough at that level. My first match was a double overtime match with a state runner-up from Missouri. Seeding doesn't matter much because everyone is good. The atmosphere is very calm, surprisingly. Everyone knows what they are doing so it's not as stressful as high school.
Q. What did you have to do to qualify? Where did you place at the SEC tournament and how many wrestlers qualified in your weight class from that tournament?
It is different for each region, but since ours was declared the hardest, the top seven from our region moved on. I ended up taking third.
Q. How would you gauge your first year of collegiate wrestling? Was it about what you expected? Did you meet your own expectations?
Coming into the season I really didn't know what to expect. At first I came in with the mentality that I was just going to wrestle and whatever happened happened, but the more I won the more I expected out of myself until I set the goal for placing at nationals this year. I would have liked to place higher, but being an All-American satisfied my goal, and I'm happy with it.
Q. Collegiate wrestling is obviously a lot different than high school. What are some of the main differences? What things are similar?
Well the weight classes are all different, and there are only 10 of them as opposed to 14 in high school. The first period is three minutes long where in high school it's two, and they introduce riding time in college, which is a whole new aspect of the game absent in high school.
Q. Flagler Palm Coast always had the reputation under your dad as a team that was physically prepared and trained for big tournaments. Was the high school regimen under your father's system good preparation for college? Does Coach Johnny Rouse have as tough or more rigorous a training and conditioning program for you guys?
Well we do not really condition here as a team; the coaches leave that responsibility up to us. That's really where my upbringing with Flagler shines the most; thanks to all the hard training at FPC I know how to get myself in excellent condition. In the room though, the workouts are about the same.
Q. Describe a typical day in the UCF wrestling program getting ready for a meet.
In college the sport is a lot more individual oriented. We all go off and prepare ourselves mentally and physically as we all come from different schools and different training backgrounds. But that usually doesn't happen until the day before the meet. Up until then it's very fraternal and we all are pretty close.
Q. How about things like managing weight? You wrestled up at 133 in college, up from what you wrestled at during your FPC days. Was it easier or harder to make weight and stay in condition?
I cut less weight this year than my previous years, so it was easier to make the weight. I was also able to lift for most of the season, something I had to kind of give up to make weight in high school.
Q. How about the matches themselves? College matches go a lot longer than in high school. Is it tougher to mentally prepare for something like that, or is it something you get used to?
In order to really handle a match format that is so long like this, you really have to be much more aggressive. There is so much time in the match that if you relax, your opponent has plenty of time to rally back. That's why college matches are pretty intense; you have to get the lead and hold it aggressively by constantly attacking and keeping the pressure on.
Q. It must have been nice to have T.J. on the squad, too, someone you knew and were teammates with. He had a pretty good first year at UCF, too, right?
T.J. has improved by leaps and bounds from last year to this year. He was a few points away from placing (at nationals) himself, and on top of that he was in a fairly stacked weight class. It has been good to have him here as we push each other along like in high school. He had a good year, I'm proud of him.
Q. What was the best or most unusual experience you had at an out of area tournament? At what tournament were you most satisfied with your effort?
Unusual? Probably when we traveled over to Iowa for the National Duals. It was about 3 degrees outside and being a Florida kid, that is excruciating for me. The team had a snowball fight after the tournament and, as you can imagine with a wrestling team, turned pretty violent a few minutes in. Having grappling bouts in that kind of weather was by far the most unusual. As far as satisfying, probably the Shipbuilder Open where I won Outstanding Wrestler.
Q. I know that a college student-athlete doesn't get a lot of down time from classwork and training and competition, especially first-year athletes. What do you do to relax as far as hobbies and outside interests? Did you get to come home on break?
I got to come home a little bit over Christmas but it wasn't very long. Keeping up with school was pretty rough. It was common for me to be working on long trips and down time was pretty nonexistent, but when I could relax I usually hung out on campus. They always have good stuff going on during the week that the school put on.
Q. How about the academic side of it? Did you do as well as you'd hoped?
Well along with being exposed to a new school and team, it took me a while to get used to the new class structure; college is so much different than high school. At first I had trouble but after a few tests I got the hang of it. I ended up getting all A's and made the Dean's List so I can't complain too much with how things went.
Q. Thanks for chatting with us Steve. Anything you'd like to add about your wrestling and college experiences?
It has been a lot of fun and I can't wait to see what I can accomplish in the next few years.
UCF's Tournament Road
133: DeAugustino -- 7th
141: Matt Bohren -- 3rd
149: Rob McCarty -- 5th
165: Devon Jackson -- 8th
184: Zach Sanford -- 3rd
184: Richard Rippy -- 4th
197: Danny Fernandez -- 2nd
285: Jesse Pinson -- 4th
Here's a breakdown of the results for former FPC wrestlers DeAugustino and T.J. Gillin at the national NWCA tournament last month at Lakeland:
· Defeated Craig Addison (Northwest Missouri) 1-0 in double overtime
· Lost to Ben Canning (Marion Military Institute) 7-3. Canning eventually placed second
· Defeated Nicholas Trevino (University of Florida) by pin 2:31
· Defeated Chuck Nickel (Williamson Trade School) 7-1
· Defeated Dan Schaaf (Grand Valley State) 8-6
· Lost to Geoff Meng (Colorado-Fort Collins) by pin 2:30. (Meng eventually placed third)
· Defeated Curran Allensten (Southern Illinois) 6-5 for seventh place
· Defeated Sean Brescher (Southern Indiana) by pin 5:46
· Lost to James Fox (Newman) 6-2
· Defeated Joe Olson (Colorado-Fort Collins) 5-2
· Defeated Josh Flint (Apprentice School) by pin 6:25
· Lost to Scott George (Williamson Trade School) 12-7 (Finished one match short of placing)