First year Pella High wrestling coach Jon Mendoza says that he’s spent the first part of the season trying to break bad habits in his young roster of wrestlers.

Mendoza says that the first bad habit that they’ve spent the most time addressing is a lack of mental toughness.

“If we’re down by a few points and we’re thinking that it’s already over and we can’t come back, that’s the first milestone that we try to attack and that’s the one I think we’ve accomplished already. We now outwork most of our opponents, and even if we’re losing by five or six, we’re the ones still trying to score and still work to win the match because anything can happen at the end of a match. That’s been proven at least two or three times where we’ve been down by six, seven or eight points and we’ve come back and won with a pin or something.”

Many of Mendoza’s wrestlers are freshmen, and he says the other bad habits he’s trying to help them break are fundamental techniques. Things that worked last year against middle schoolers almost certainly won’t work against the juniors and seniors they’re wrestling this year.

The Little Dutch return to action on Thursday in a triangular against Mendoza’s alma matter, Norwalk, and Urbandale.