'Jacob's Challenge' will push wrestlers' limits over 24 hours
September 28, 2018 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's wrestling team will revive its annual 24-hour preseason training ritual known as "Jacob's Challenge" from Saturday at 6 a.m. to Sunday at 6 a.m.
All but a three-hour period of that mental and physical conditioning will take place in the Flames' training facility in the former Macy's building location at River Ridge Mall (located near to campus). From midnight to 3 a.m., the team will utilize the Liberty Mountain Intramural Complex field space for outdoor conditioning.
Liberty Head Coach Jesse Castro said the benefits of the 24-hour workout, with 45-minute hourly sessions and 15 minutes of recovery time, are psychological and spiritual as much as physical.
"Jacob's Challenge is not so much about physical development as it is about developing mental toughness and team bonding," Castro said. "Spiritual development is very much a part of it as well."
The Flames' 25-man roster is in preseason training for its Nov. 3 debut at the Messiah Invitational in Grantham, Pa. Its schedule culminates in the spring semester when Liberty will defend its National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) National Duals (Jan. 25-26 in Las Vegas), Mid-Atlantic Conference (March 2 at Liberty), and NCWA Grand National Championships (March 14-16 in Allen, Texas) tournament titles from last season.
Castro said the chemistry on this year's team is excellent.
"I really like the way the team is blending and melding together thus far," he said. "It should be a good year in terms of team unity, which is really exciting. It makes it fun to coach."
Events such as Jacob's Challenge will help strengthen those bonds, while testing the wrestlers' resolves. The message he wants to instill in his wrestlers is to be willing to compete for the team, and to glorify God, rather than striving for selfish motives and worldly gain.
"There is a great visual there in Jacob's nighttime wrestling match with God, as far as our lives go," Castro said. "The whole premise behind Christianity is dying to self, which is all throughout the New Testament, and living unto the Lord. It's a constant, daily battle and decision to die to self. You have to be totally submitted and surrendered."
The 24 training periods will include sparring and conditioning, technique and teaching drills, and weight and circuit training.
"We will mix it up as much as we can with live wrestling and field activities," Castro said. "It is going to be fun."