Season 4, Column 1: No to far away but Yes locally; An FTD wish for a Northern neighbor; Cancel Culture, New England Style; and ‘Cue the local angle

Theres no way to sugarcoat it: the United States decision to not send teams to this year’s World Wrestling Championships creates an oral vacuum of immense magnitude. Athletes have voiced a variety of opinions on the matter, coaches have (mostly) quietly supported the USA Wrestling decision, but fans are pissed. Frankly, throw all of it into the lap of UWW (United World Wrestling). They went through more format changes with this event than Bruce Jenner post Olympics. And just as messy. Once it was announced that the competition facility was being converted into an emergency Covid-19 center, well, that put a cork in it for the USA. We weren’t the first team to say “no thanks”, and we weren’t the last. The U.W.W. had a mess on its hands, and after it became apparent they couldn’t make it work, they made it into something else. Some kind of something called an “Individual World Cup” will be held instead. Whom from what countries will risk much for who knows what is very much up in the air. Stateside, though, there are a bunch of high level matches popping up all over the place. Ohio St. 4xAA and 2016 National champ Myles Martin just stepped up to and through a LOADED field of former National champs, AAs, and international medalists in a winner take twenty thousand dollar title tournament at 195 lbs. Kudos again to FloWrestling and their slick work at making the 1 day mini tournament for pay fun and, slowly, part of the sports future. Also in the Flowage: a showdown match between the current G.O.A.T. of American Freestyle wrestling, Jordan Burroughs, and former 3xAA, 2X NCAA champ for Arizona State, Zahid Valencia. The card will have 7 total bouts featuring all 3 styles, Men’s and Womens Freestyle and Greco-Roman. In addition there’s another, 8 man event coming to be competed at 150 lbs. You go Flo!(1) At months beginning the Hawkeye Wrestling Club held a hybrid intersquad tournament/showcase event with lots of current Iowa stars in action against both international veterans and each other. Easily the highlight here was current Hawkeye(2) Jaydin Eiermans 4-1 win over former Olympic and World Champ Vladimer Kinchegashvili. 2X Iowa 125lb National Champ Spenser Lee brutalized former 4X Minnesota AA Zach Sanders with a first period pin. The rest of the Hawkeyes on the main card wrestled well but came up short against internationally experienced US athletes. Red, White and Blue winners included 2 former NC State stars with 5 college AA awards and multiple international medals between them. Nick Gwiazdowski (@NGWIZZ on Twitter) was a Binghamton Bearcat AA before he was a 3x finalist and 2x champ for the WolfPack, and Tommy Gantt (@TGantt70kg on twitter) both showed bigtime freestyle chops in their respective 10-0 and 10-6 wins. Also victorious, former Nebraska 4x AA and world medalist James Green. Green and Gantt(3), along with 2x World Champ, 4x National Champ for Cornell Kyle Dake and former Illinois 4x AA, 2x champ Isaiah Martinez are a fearsome foursome indeed in the battle for the US World team spot at 74kg. Oh, and there’s this fellow named Burroughs trying to keep that place on the team for himself. He was mentioned before, you may have heard of him? Multiple time World Champ? Olympic Champ? 9x medalist at the World level? Yeah, that guy. DAMN. We are GOOD at 74kg.

LET ME TELL YOU, JUNIORS, ITS ALL ABOUT THE “U” (23s, that is)

Current studs and future stars. NO Hurricanes or Hillbillies here, friends. Just some of Americas best and brightest young wrestlers converging on Omaha, Nebraska the weekend of the 13th-15th for the UWW Juniors Tournament and the U-23 National Championships. USA Wrestling is the host organization for the event, and athletes will compete in Mens Freestyle, Womens Freestyle, and Greco-Roman across 10 weight classes. Yes, the FULL 10 weight classes, NOT the shrunken amount of 6 the I.O.C. allows at their hallowed event. Whoops, sorry, close to an Idiots Outta Control rant there. Anyway, there will be a whole LOTTA great wrestling with the champs of each weight class earning a bid to the Senior World Team Trials next year. Those not age eligible for the Sr. Worlds will earn a spot for their age appropriate Trials, set for 2021 as well. MANY thanks to the talented and elusive Taylor Miller (Gregorio?) for the mid September story break on these matters. Her always-enjoyable work can be found on the USA Wrestling site. Under at least 2 surnames. Possibly more. Not sure. Pretty sure she still won’t consent to an interview for this column. Sigh.

FULL TIME DAD FOR THE WIN, CANADIAN STYLE

God Bless our friendly, funky, left leaning neighbors to the Great White North. Canada has amazing, well, pretty much everything. World class people, places, and things, even if their cultural/political ideologies and their calendars are a bit off. What’s with Thanksgiving in October, anyway? In any case, it needs noting here that one of the great heavyweights of the Free World has thrown his and lots of other folks 125-130kg mass around for the last time. Korey Jarvis has carried the Maple Leaf to the podium multiple times at the Commonwealth Games, the Pan Am Games, and battled Canadian proud style at the 2016 Olympics. Jarvis is the only athlete to win his countries Freestyle AND Greco Roman Hvt. Championship 3 consecutive times. Now he will take on his biggest challenge: raising his daughter Brynlee. Firefighters School(4) next to those two careers? Childs play. Happy retirement Korey! Amar Dhesi will take it from here.

PAHK THAT MAHT IN THE GHARAHGE

For the first time since LBJ put his boots up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue the New England Wrestling Championships are…not. The Chinese Virus, or rather its ongoing 2nd iteration, was enough to convince the 6 state conglomerate to go thumbs-down on the premiere event. It’s not just wrestling, folks. Many Fall and Winter Sports were kiboshed by various and sundry state organizations. This was more the death of a thousand cuts as 1 state after another pulled the plug on out of state sports competitions and, in a number of cases, in state as well. Sad. Hopefully justice, perhaps in the form of an amended later-date event, will help the dedicated athletes from a lightly recruited area(5) get the exposure they deserve.

‘CUE THE LOCAL ANGLE

At that capacious, cool, comfortable Central San Antonio BBQ stop hard by Hardberger Park but easy on your wallet, yet more wrestling school alums and sports fans enjoyed the food and the camaraderie these past few weeks. The Gleason family celebrated a wedding to be as the crew from Shell Lake, Wisconsin savored some smoked meat and shared a family shot with flying “W”s to show their school pride. Also enjoying the ambience of the big main room, former Drake soccer star David Narvaez. Memories of his college roommate brought a smile to Dave’s face as he recounted the former Bulldogs wrestlers quirkiness. Or something like that. Interestingly, it was only that soccer scholarship that kept Narvaez from attending Missouri, and his sports allegiances lie strong with the Tigers now. Two nieces attend, and Dave was quite aware of the colossus that Brian Smith has engineered on the mats in Columbia. So remember that no matter when you make your way to SA, or for whatever reason, you should carve out some time and cut into some ‘Cue at that big, friendly place on Blanco Road.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) Just not so often to the courtroom, please, and go easy on Willie, already. It’s the Holiday Season, people!

(2) Eierman was a 3xAA for Brian Smith’s Missouri Tigers before transfering to Iowa and taking an Olympic redshirt this past season.

(3) The Scribe urges you to follow the marvelous Mr. Gantt, a favorite since 2015 despite his recent disappearance from the authors Twitterfeed because…elections? Possibly. *SIGH*

(4) NOW we know why those Northwestern U.S. wildfires are afraid to jump the border.

(5) The Scribe and Bride turned a weekend convention visit to Albany, NY, in Spring 2019, into a weeklong combo tour of Vermont. Details on the TripAdvisor site @784TedC., but do yourself a favor and just go. Its prettier than the postcards and better than most of the stories.

Between Seasons, Column 31: Murder most foul; Secret Scraps and Season resets; Folks who found new homes; and Westward Ho from San Antonio

EXECUTION, EXPECTED

Even the hardest of hard core wrestling fans would have been hard pressed to know of the plight of Navid Afkari. A championship level Greco Roman wrestler from Iran,(1) Afkari and 2 of his brothers had been arrested in 2018 on a variety of charges. These included conspiracy, illegal protesting, defamation, and the murder of an Iranian Military Guard member. This went virtually unnoticed until just recently, when the Iranian regime found themselves with a very leveragable situation. A group of helpless hostages whose very existence was a whim to the Mullahs. Hostages whose fates were suddenly and very visibly a cause celebre for the Western World. Our World, that they alternately loathe, despise, fear, and are envious of. Nothing could have been more joyous to the Iranian regime. Those who thought this was a unique situation should harken back not just to the 1979 hostage crisis, but rather to Thomas Jeffersons presidency. The 2nd President of the United States, disgusted with Middle East piracy, hostage taking and wanton executions of Western military and civilians, sent in the Marines. In 1803! Do the words “To the Shores of Tripoli” ring a bell? This cultural conflict has a history nearly as long as our sport. Did anyone really think that Nafkari would be spared? A torture-induced (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a Wall St. Journal Op-ed attested to this) series of “confessions” gave the Iranian regime an opening, and they ripped Nafkaris life away through it. What next? Probably the same thing that occurred in 1968 when the great Iranian champion Golam Rheza Takhti was found dead in his hotel room. The greatest wrestler in Iranian history, who won medals across a decade and a half worth of World and Olympic championships, won the love of Iran but the ire of the Shah. His death was ruled a suicide, but the Savak, the Shahs Secret Police, were heavily rumored to be involved. The only lesson learned here is one that the West hasn’t learned in 215 years. Regardless if Iran is ruled by a semi secular dictatorship or a Caliphate, give the regime an inch and they’ll take a foot. Or a neck.

THERES WRASSLIN ON THEM THAR ROOFTOPS

And hotel rooms. And ballrooms. For the past 2 months or so wrestlers at every level have finally begun to return to action, and folks pretty much everywhere are oh so happy. Wrestling based charitable organizations, independent event organizers, and Regional Training Centers have all tried their hand at producing cards, and more are on the horizon. While this helps slake the thirst for domestic based high quality competition somewhat, the swirling winds of change blowing around international events are still a bit concerning. UWW, United World Wrestling, has canceled the World U23 Championships for this yr, and remains mum on the Junior World Championships. Here in ‘Murica, wrestlers dont care. USA Wrestling is full speed ahead for Championships the weekend of Oct. 8-11 in Coralville,(2) Iowa. With the 6 Olympic weight classes to be contested, in mens and women’s freestyle and mens Greco-Roman. BOOYAH! Credit where credit is due: the Flowrestling crew is front and center on this one, streaming the 3 day event live. LOTS of intriguing matchups in all weight classes. Fantastic competitions with a number of suprising results have been put on already this fall by such diverse organizations/individuals as Beat the Streets New York, The Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, and MMA star/Marketing Guru/SmackOff Champ Chael Sonnen. The aforementioned “F” team is staging a series of 8 man brackets in a variety of weight classes with two upcoming, a 150 lb and a 195 lb tournament. There’s even payouts in cashmoney for the competitors. The Hawkeye Wrestling Club is setting up their own mega event for November 1st. Strange and wonderful bedfellows indeed. Come one, come all, and go for the fall!

SAFE LANDINGS

The most recent edition of this column postulated on the at-times unexplained and oft troubling trend this past off season of coaches and athletes making sudden and in many cases somewhat unexpected departures. Fortunately, the last 2 months have given us much good news to celebrate. While Joel Sharratts departure at Navy was coming (at Navy, if you lose to Army much, you lose your job) not too many saw Cary Kolat standing on the bridge in Annapolis. Coming with Kolat from his staff at Campbell are Mike Evans and Blaize Cabell, while Dan Neff and Loyd Rogers were retained from the previous staff. The assassination of the Old Dominion program saw coach/uber-recruiter Daryl Thomas join new Campbell head coach Scotti Sentes (Riverdale, FL, baby!) at the Camel shack on Buies Creek. Then from the Michigan State staff in came Wynn, as in Michalak, as in (like Scottie) a stud athlete/coach from Tom Borellis Central Michigan teams back in the day. The Sentes/Dixon/Michalak trio is a formidable group off and on the mat and keeps the level of the SoCon (Southern Conference) coaching staffs on an upswing. The SoCon also swapped out some coaches at App State and the Citadel. App State Co Head Assistant Coaches Ryan Leblanc and Josh Roosa both left Boone. Leblanc became the main man at the Citadel, replacing 2 decade plus Bulldogs HC Rob Hjerling. Roosa is now the Head Coach at Kings College in PA. Citadel 4 year mat star Sawyer Root (Harmony, FL, Baby!) starts his coaching career this year at Newberry College, like the Citadel a South Carolina school. Also about the Mountaineers, former App St. Star Randall Diabe moves from the volunteer position to assistant. Making a big move, from Corvallis, Oregon, to Boone, North Carolina, one Ian Miller. The well traveled, 3X AA from Kent State had a 4 year run as Jim Zaleskys assistant but when the Oregon State staff was axed, Miller went coastal, bringing his amazing style and talent to the SoCon.(3) Over at Gardner-Webb Roderick Davis segues from team member to grad assistant. Ryan Hunsberger comes aboard at VMI after great success at the scholastic and club level in the Keydets home state of Virginia. That’s a quality pickup for Head Coach Jim Gibson.(4) The staffs at the Scribes beloved UTC (GO MOCS!), Davidson, and Presbyterian are unchanged for the upcoming season. More changes of note: former OK St. 2XAA, USA wrestling Greco Roman star, AND former Air Force Director of Wrestling Operations Chandler Rogers is now current Little Rock assistant. Rogers is yet another branch on the coaching tree(5) of legend in his and our time John Smith. Luke Smith, no relation, is the new big bird at Bakersfield, as Manny Rivera relinquished the Roadrunners reins to his newly hired chief assistant.

RANDOM RAMBLINGS

Huzzah X3 to Ohio States Kaleb Romero, Fritz Schierl, and Zach Steiner for getting the Grad School thing going while staying matside for the Buckeyes. In Laramie it went down differently, but still great. Goodbye, 2X AA Montorie Bridges, face of the Wyoming Cowboys for years. Hello Montorie Bridges, Grad student, future Federal Law Enforcement star(6) and face of fear for current and future scumbags everywhere. SHOUT OUT-Pharr, TXs own lightweight star, Diego Olivera, saving the life of a WalMart co-worker his first day on the job. PIONEERING EFFORTS PAYING OFF. Wow, you go, Coach John Clark and the Sacred Heart Pioneers mens-AND WOMENS-wrestling teams. The incredible efforts and equally amazing results of this Coach and the school and community have been lauded in this column for several years now. Now, it seems, they’re everywhere. Catch the story of this squad, its growth, installment of a women’s Division 1 squad, plans for a Regional Training Center, and much more. Find their story on platforms such as TrackWrestling, IA Wrestle, The Mat Talk Online Newsletter, and soon, in the latest issue of How to Do It Magazine, where Coach C will share his secret recipe for a killer flourless chocolate cake.(7) GET BETTER QUICK-to Former US military star, OSU AA, and martial arts mainstay Randy Couture, recovering from injuries stemming from an ATV accident. Same same to Iowa AA star wrestler/coach Ryan Morningstar, victim of a stroke.

DOIN THE 90 DRIVE

Most folks get in and out of San Antonio via 10 (East/West) or 35 or 281 (North/South). Theres a highway, though, that will provide a quality drive and a true TX taste. While US 90 gets going a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, and has great stuff before it hits the Lone Star State, this story concerns its exit from the Southwest side of the Alamo City on its way to a western end in Van Horn. The rolling fields of Southwest Bexar County give way in short order in a zippy trip to a town called the France of Texas. Castroville was established over 175 years ago primarily by settlers from the Alsace region, and its under 3,000 small town charm is bracketed by history and bolstered by nature. A slew of historic sites abound. Catch the architecture and ambience of the Hotel Jarde, established in 1852. Enjoy a tasty French dish at the Alsatian Restaurant, or a tummy yummy (or two, DO NOT miss the lemon bars) at Habys Bakery. There’s an old fashioned swimming hole, the wandering wet wonder that is the Medina River, and plenty of small shops to spend/waste money/time in. So get off the Interstate and get on down Highway 90. And theres fun beyond Castroville. That’s for a later column.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) This is IN NO WAY a reflection of the Iranian people, whom the author has always found to be as amazing a race as exists anywhere. The problem for the West and Western ideals has always been the Regime, NOT the people.

2. A suburb of Iowa City, Coralville, IA is sister city to Mountaintop, FL and DahmHott, AK.

3. The Scribe caught Millers high flying act at the 2015 Southern Scuffle, where Ian unfortunately suffered one of his many injury defaults.

4. Catch the excellent, no coach speak style of Coach Gibson and key assistant Ty Schoffstahl in the 3rd Season, Column 12 edition of this column (11/18/19)

5. Starting to look like a Banyan from here, Coach Smith.

6. Following in the law enforcement footsteps of his father and uncle.

7. Coach Clark will also reveal his tricks for best-ever Abelskiver pancakes that he talked Brandon Eggum out of. Hopefully. Probably not.

Between Seasons, Column 30: A stormy Spring & a canceled Summer; Gains & losses on and off the mat; and the return of work &…Wine

“April showers bring May flowers” but the storm that struck the World this past Winter and Spring brought greater changes to the human landscape than any event since World War II. The Chinese Virus killed another hundred people and damaged the health and hopes of a thousand more before you finished reading this sentence. Contextualizing Sports in general and wrestling in particular was a bridge too far for this author until the truth finally settled in. The realization that, despite all gloom and portents of impending doom, the hunger for the joy of life never ceases. However that joy is manifested. On these pages it shows itself in a celebration of the greatest sport, an appreciation of freedom in both employment and movement, and a limited but growing understanding of the gift of Bacchus. So, as this column originally stated and has not wavered from since, these news and notes on wrestling, travel, and wine.

A MODEST PROPOSAL, WITH CREDITS TO SWIFT(1) AND KOLAT(2)

The alteration of the wrestling season and the cancellation of many of its championships has given the sport an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons. Or perhaps chicken salad out of a less palatable product. At the collegiate level certainly, where the calls for a shortened season, a dual meet championships, and a restructuring of seasonal eligibility parameters make more and more sense. Take ALL of November out of the wrestling equation. Move the CKLV, the Midlands, the Southern Scuffle and one of the Eastern tournaments(3) to a singular window beginning the Wednesday AFTER the Football Championships. Each would have approximately 16-20 teams, a manageable number. Incentivize schools to rotate among the events year to year, giving their student athletes a greater range of competition and a deeper appreciation and understanding of all the areas of the U.S. Next, 4 weeks of dual meet competition. Conference tournaments 3rd weekend of February. Current championships 2 weeks later, same 3 day format. Then, the big alteration. An 8 day, 16 team Dual Meet Championship, comprised of the teams that finished 5-20 at the 3 day tournament. First weekend, teams 5-12 host teams 13-20 across a standard draw. The 5th place team hosts the 20th place team, 6th place team hosts 19th place team, etc. The 8 winners battle each other at a bidded on site to win the Dual Meet title. The event would occur after the Final Four. Wrestling season would shorten by 20%. It would change from 11/1-3/21 to 12/15-4/14.(4) That makes for significant reductions in accumulated costs, physical as well as financial. More teams would have access to improved competition levels and would be increasing their footprint, simultaneously shrinking their expenditure windows while expanding their brand recognition. This columns author is undecided on a functional change re eligibility determination. Surely some opportunity to compete without losing a years eligibility can be agreed upon, though.

RUNNING SOME NUMBERS

So, if the Athletic Doomsayers of various Power 5 conferences are to be believed, monies lost due to major sports being moved/greatly reduced/canceled outright could exceed averages of fifty million dollars plus per school. In the case of, say, the Big10, it could mean a conference financial hit of nearly three quarters of a BILLION dollars. An insane number, to be sure. Where does all this soon to be missing money normally go? One wonders. More threatening still to our sport is the ominous scattering of assistant coaches, many of whom it seems are leaving the sport. Or at least leaving no firm news of their next destination, wrestling or otherwise. Kudos must go at this point to @KeepStanfordWrestling, a rapidly growing group of Cardinal alumni, students and fans all focused on a lofty goal: the full endowment of a mens AND women’s wrestling team for the Cardinal. Sign the Change.Org petition and, if you are financially able, please commit some cashmoney to as fine a group of student athletes as you will find anywhere.

‘QUE THE LOCAL ANGLE

At that special smoked meat meet up spot smack dab on Blanco Road in North Central San Antonio the Scribe has been blessed to cross paths with numerous wrestling notables since his return from a pandemic forced furlough. Alums from Appalachian State, Penn State, Oregon, the Citadel, Michigan, Fresno State, and others have swung by, some repeatedly, drawn by carnivorous desires and appreciation of good old S. TX. hospitality.

WINE-DING DOWN W/ THE SCRIBE:

PARDUCCI SMALL LOT PINOT NOIR MENDOCINO COUNTY 2017

80 plus years of winemaking is touted by this label, started during the Depression by Adolph Parducci and continued by his late son John (1918-2014). Though the family was ousted in the 90s the name remained, unsurprisingly since John had earned the moniker “Mr. Mendocino” for both his wine making and marketing talents. In the author’s limited but growing experience of this varietal Pinots are especially beholden to their temperature range (around 55 degrees) for full enjoyment, and this one was no different. Quite good when “in range” with an herb crusted chicken, it was less so as an overly chilled stand-alone. Once returned to its proper place on the Fahrenheit scale, it finished well with a tri-cheese plate (German Triple-cream Brie with mushrooms, Oaxaca, & a Cotswold Double Gloucester with Onions and Chives). CA wine with Mexican, German, and English cheese? The E.U. and NAFTA are both jealous.

RATING: 3 GLASSES

See you soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) The great author Jonathan Swift placed this title atop a satirical and gruesomely humorous story suggesting a novel approach to ending Middle Ages hunger. Never specified whether Post Oak or Mesquite would be better, though.

2. Cary Kolat, Navys new Head Coach, laid out a marvelous framework for the season that this author has slightly altered.

3. The Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open, the Mat Town Classic, or the Southeast Open would be fine choices. Of course, if you win the Edinboro Open, you get a full sized Claymore Sword. So theres that.

4. The NCAA D1 Committee has recently recommended a Jan. 1st start date, but has yet to provide a firm season long plan.

3rd Season, Column 29: Champ Rap

Droppin lines bout

Fine Carolines,

undefeated

Like da Black and Gold, Top seeded,

But da Pack, howlin, at the fowl in

the corn, for top marks, Shane Sparks

‘n Big 10 soarin, Lions,

Restorin Roarin, but Blue n White

Out,

On a hot nite, forkd n knifed

Strife, crowd feelin, leavin seats

Believin,

Devils ruled that night,

But teams, we mean,

Blacks the color

Golds tha other

THAT team, leans

No way but up, s’up

Nobody to their level

They Disheveled

Da Foe

Will em, wont em

Climb the totem,

Minneapolis

Hear THIS

Minnesota

Wrote a

Big man story

But Glory

Down n size

Suprise tyges

Bruck trucking n ships,

Burnin, Kolodziks learning

to score more with

NOT Mon-dayne but pain

Still, up high,

Hawks FLY But a full sky,

MountainHawks eyein, Bucks tryin

10 more cryin

to get in through

tha door, Top 4

room for one more

Corn fed dread, a lock

for a spot, near the top,

dont drop

Your sights, feel the hype

From Vegas win nite

“N” da Jerzey fight

In it, ta win it

So’s da Pokes

A no joke season

No real reason

For tha feelin

Just believin

Theyre seasoned

Done it,won it, fun it is

For the griz, ole

Coach, he no Lizzo

Cant sing, dance, but coach

YO

Who else

can shelf

A trophy

A choice, Sofie

You pick, lose or win

ALL IN.

BRAUWN’N’WITE. 2020. All rights reserved. @ElCocoGrande

3rd Season, Column 28: Conference Crunch, please, 2 scoops; and First Hand Forum

Tasty is not the only word to describe the wrestling wonderment of Marchs 1st full weekend, but it’s a good one. Lets get right to the dessert, shall we?

ACC-The Absolutely Calamitous Conference jammed more action into about 12 hours than the Swedish Bikini Teams Olympic Tryouts. Host Pitt came This close to upending regular season Champ and heavily favored NC State but the WolfPack, with quality depth and a big upset win at 125, held off the Panthers by just 4 points. That team triumph added ACC tournament title number two in 3 years to the WolfPacks run of three, count em, three, regular season conference crowns in a row. 9 NC State wrestlers made the semi-finals, and 6 wrestled for an ACC title. Good thing, too, because only 125LB Jakob Camacho and 2X AA 157LB Hayden Hidlay earned Gold. Never leave an opening for a Panther, and stylin Pitt Head Coach Keith Gavins crew pounced on the opportunity Or, more correctly, created it. 7 Panthers wrestled their way to NCAA Bids, and 3 won ACC titles. 133LB Micky Phillippi, 165LB Jake Wentzel, and 285LB Demetrius “Meech” Thomas nearly did the thing, too, as the ACC hosts pushed the Wolfpack to the limit. Wentzels Golden effort was an especially impressive 3 match march from the 4th seed to the top of the podium. That’s where 3 Tar Heels ended up as North Carolina earned a Team Bronze. Champs 141LB Zach Sherman, 149LB Austin O’Connor, and 174LB Clay Lautt are all back next season for UNC, who loses only 157LB AC Headlee to graduation. 6 Tar Heels will head to Minneapolis as Coach Coleman Scotts squad is a Top 20 lock. Virginia saw their horses, 125LB Jack Mueller and fellow Top 10 ranked grappler 197LB Jay Aiello, go 1 for 2 in their Championship matches. Aiello locked up a high seed at Nationals with his 27th win, earning his 2nd NCAA trip. Mueller gathered in his 4th visit and he’s looking for his 3rd AA finish. Until the conference finals his last college loss was in last year’s National Championship match to Iowa 2X Champ Spencer Lee. Then Sunday and salty NC st RS freshman Jakob Camacho happened, to the tune of 11-4. No matter. Hoosnation was more than happy to finish ahead of their Commonwealth Cup rivals VA Tech in the ACCs, and with 6 Cavaliers earning automatic bids (1) to the NCAAS, UVA can take square aim at a Top 25 finish. Only 1 starter, Mueller, won’t be back for next season. Though the pride of Dallas, TX and Trinity Christian Academy is a lot to lose, look for smooth moves by the ‘Hoos next season. Yes, he wrote that. Not writing the ACC ending they wanted (even if one was expected) were 5th and 6th place finishers Virginia Tech and Duke. Tech tallied 52 points, Duke a few less. About 50 less, more or less, mostly the latter. Even the wizardry of Duke Coach Glen Lanham can only go so far, and a greatly diminished roster in both quality and quantity greatly diminishes returns. Anywhere, in any endeavor. So, for Duke, wins by 174LB Mason Eaglin and 197LB Vincent Baker, 1 each followed by 2 losses per, probably completed the Blue Devils season. For the Hokies, an 8-0, #3 ranking through the seasons 1st half felt the heavy hand of absence, injuries, and enormous expectations down the stretch. Techs talent and depth hoped to make up the 20+point season starting deficit from the absence of defending National Champ Mekhi Lewis. Lewis and the VT staff committed to an Olympic redshirt year for the über-star. OK, got it, get that medal, Mekhi, and Hokie up everybody! Uh oh, Brent can’t go no mo. As in nasty tough 149LB Brent Moore, who reaggravated a terrible neck injury at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Tournament, ending his mat career. Whoa, 6-12 points missing per match and 30-35 per tourney down the stretch was too big a pill for even a Hokie to choke down. Then, at the ACCs, another Moore went down, 141LB Mitch. This statement from VT BHH HC Tony Robie..

“With the development of an unforeseen medical condition this past weekend, we elected to medically withdraw Mitch from the remainder of the ACC Championship under the advisement of our medical staff in the best interest of his health. We are hopeful that he receives an at large bid from the selection committee for the opportunity to compete in Minneapolis at the NCAA Championships.”

That is Unvarnished Truth, dear reader. Savor it for its honesty even as you feel its sadness. Look, nearly any team in the country would do backflips for a Top 10-15 season finish, and ecstasy would echo around the room of a squad with 8 wrestlers out of 10 NCAA bound. For VPI, that’s BAU. Business as usual.

SOCON-the Deep South bastion of D1 Collegiate wrestling tried to hold an 8 team tournament and a dual meet broke out instead. The Campbell Camels and the Appalachian State Mountaineers combined for 14 out of 20 finals berths and an astonishing 9 out of 10 champions. To say the two squads staged an intervention against conference parity is an undersell. The lone titlist not from Cary Kolats title winning bad boys from Buies Creek or BHH HC JohnMark Bentleys rough n ready mountain men from Boone NC, was VMI 174LB “Nasty” Neal Richards. Richards avenged a last match of the regular season loss with a decisive defeat of App States Thomas Flitz. Folks, it was Campbell v App State, App St v Campbell all afternoon and night. The odd men out in this scenario? The Scribes beloved UTC Mocs, who busted their tails all season long with a Marquis de Sade approved schedule to be fully post season ready. Then, they followed through on the months long struggle by advancing half their team to the finals. Yeah, you see where this is going. The Mocs were a misery-inducing 0-5 in championship matches. Repeat disappointments included 149LB Tanner Smiths 3rd loss to App State star Jonathan Millner, 184LB Matt Waddells 3rd defeat in 3 tries against Campbells Andrew Morgan, and 197LB SoCon top seed Rodney Jones 2nd defeat by App States DeMazio Samuel. You could then be told that Smith also lost his “true 2nd” place match, to the Citadels Selwyn Porter, and lost an NCAA qualifying bid in the process, but that would be too painful. Or something. Richards was something, for sure, as the 174LB VMI masher claimed his 2nd straight conference title and a piece of the SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding wrestler award. You want numbers? Richards has them. 38 wins against just 7 losses, 18 out of 19 in a row, heading to the NCAAS for the 3rd time in an illustrious career. Capping it with AA status is a long but reasonable shot (2) for Richards and would greatly bolster the already excellent efforts of Coach Jim Gibson, Assistant Ty Schoffstahl, and the spirits in the VMI room. Richards, UTCs Waddell and the Citadels Porter are more than likely the only SoCon grapplers not from Campbell or App State headed to Nationals. By way of explanation, only 4 SoCon weight classes had 2 bids. Waddells wt class had two bids and an opponent he had already defeated finished 3rd. 4 of UTCs 5 finalists do return, 9 overall starters back. It’s a given that with “The Kyle Ruschell Initiative” into year 3 they’ll start at a higher spot than in years past. Now they just need to finish that way. The rest of the conference is still looking straight up at the Big 3, with 5th place Davidson and 4th place the Citadel combining for less points than Chattanoogas 75. Porter wasn’t the only star for the Charleston, SC breed of Bulldogs, though. Fellow sophomore Dazjon(3)Casto, 2 weight classes up at 165, helps form a nice 1-2 middleweight punch with Porter(4) for the next 2 years for Coaches Rob Hjerling, Cody Cleveland and company. 285LB senior Mike McAleavey also closed out his season in style with the Bronze spot on the podium. This years crop of Citadel seniors could all do their career thesis presentation on “The Three I’s: Illness+Injury=Inconsistency.” Do NOT fault these fine young men, friends. That is an unsolvable equation. Speaking of numbers, a 4 pack of 4th place finishers had Gardner-Webb ending up 7th. The Boiling Springs, NC breed of Bulldogs, unfortunately, were strongest where the best SoCon teams just had better wrestlers. 165LB RJ Mosley finished his season with 23 wins and a spot on the SoCon All Freshman team. He and every other starter except 197LB Roderick Davis return next season, so Coach Daniel Elliott will have good guys to work with. Just one note-only one of two touted freshmen remain on the roster at 125, as GA 4A State Champ John Jones III is MIA, and a planned 125LB appearance by he or Michael Pappaconstantinou never fully materialized this year. The pre SoCon roster had Will Edmiston at 125 and mid season transfer Trevon Majette manning 133. Sunday saw Edmiston at 133, Majette missing, and a large post season hole at the smallest weight class. Curiouser indeed. Not curious at all but interesting were the 5th and 8th place finishes of Davidson and Presbyterian. Given both squads roster numbers, academic/cultural standards and, in Presbyterians case, 1st year program status, any kind of point total past 15 was going to be good for the Wildcats and any points at all for Presbyterian would have been: A: Progress/B: Peachy/C: pointing in the right direction.(5) With 29 points “Certifiably Intense” Head Coach Andy Lausiers crew nearly doubled reasonable expectations and 2 Wildcats clawed their way up the backside of the Tournament to each finish 3rd. Sophomore 133LB Kyle Gorant and 184LB freshman Gavin Henry each went 3-2 and both had 3rd place revenge wins over wrestlers who had beaten them before. Even better, between them they recorded tournament victories over wrestlers from all 3 conference big boys. That is measurable progress. Presbyterians progress this year? Existence, competition, a dual meet win, good efforts at multiple tournaments, and big time bragging rights at being the very first school to field a D1 Mens and Womens team. Like, ever. Not that Presbyterian Director of Wrestling Mark Cody is any kind of braggart. No sir. A smiler, yes. A braggart, no.

FIRST HAND FORUM: TX HS COACHES POST SEASON EDITION

The second installment in at least a 2 part series with the post season perspective of various Region 4 TX HS Coaches. 5 questions, 5 answers, unedited, in their own words….

SAN ANTONIO WINSTON CHURCHILL HS HEAD COACH BRIAN HAWKINS

  1. In you and your staffs measurements was your teams season a success, and how so?

Our kids weren’t satisfied but my answer would be yes. Our boys only returned 4 out of fourteen starters from last seasons District Championship team. Our most talented returning wrestler missed the entire season due to major injury, and we finished the season with only 1 senior in our Varsity lineup. After all that, our boys fought to a 2nd place finish at Districts, qualified 7 for Regionals plus two alternates, and we qualified three for state with our senior winning 4th place. Our girls team lost one of our team captains to injury halfway through the season and finished with four freshmen in the starting lineup. They still fought to 3rd in the District, qualified 7 for Regionals plus an alternate, and advanced one girl to State. We did not hit all our team goals, but this group faced a lot of adversity this season. The ability of these kids to overcome these obstacles and still achieve some measure of success will serve them well in the future.

2. How was the needle moved this season towards improving our sport in this city/area/state? If it, in your opinion, was not, what can be done?

The city of San Antonio needs more wrestling programs. We will not experience consistent improvement until there are more schools in the city that have wrestling. That means at the high school level but also at the middle school level. The sport in the state of Texas is improving rapidly, but this city will continue to fall behind Dallas and Houston because of the lack of programs in the area.

3. Please give your perspective on the best and the most challenging things you and your team experienced this post season?

My best experience this postseason was watching our senior boy, Chris Pruske, at the State Tournament. This is a kid that plays mutliple sports,so he does not get to develop his full effort and energy to wrestling. He just works and competes and refuses to settle for anything less than excellence. Last year, he finished 6th in our region. This year, he finished 4th at State. Watching his career end the way it did was a very satisfying experience. As a team, I think our best experience was the way the teams competed at Districts. Our girls team was shorthanded with four freshmen in and our second-best wrestler out, but they still finished third. Our boys team was in fifth place going into the championship round but just continued to battle and finished the day in second. The most challening thing we experienced was the blood round at Regionals, that last round in onsolations where you either win and get to go to State or you lose and your season is over. We had two boys and two girls go out in that round and those are tough matches to get over. But luckily none of those four are seniors so they get another crack at it next season.

4. Whom, and what successes, both team and individual, may we highlight from your season?

Victoria Morales, 12-2X District Champ, 2X Regional Runner-up, State Qualifier

Winter Hill and Eliza Stricklin, 9-both won 20+ matches, won a District medal, and won matches at Regionals as freshmen

Chris Pruske, 12-2X Regional place winner, 47 wins this season, 4th place at State

Adam Miller, 11-Two sport varsity athlete, District Champ, Regional Runner-up, State Qualifier

Quinn Porter, 11—32 wins, District Champ, State Qualifier

Alex Boarnet, 11—-38 wins, 2X District Medalist, Silver Bracket Champ at the Texas Outlaw

Rocco Obregon, 11—-32 wins, District Runner-up

5. In 5 years Texas wrestling at the scholastic level will____________. Note both your expectations and your hopes.

Still be improving. I think Texas is quickly catching up to other states in terms of the number of quality wrestlers in the state. My hope is that by then state-wide middle school wrestling is either a reality or at least a topic of serious discussion.

See you next week!

Ted Carreras

(1) No trite “Ticket Punched” descriptive here. No Siree, bob.

(2) Who do you want taking that shot besides a VMI guy? C’mon, man!

(3) Dang, somebody moved his “Cheese”. Loved that nickname!

(4) He’s stout, and even better with Cheese. That ones for you JB.

(5) All bad. Goodwin, where are you when we need you? Running and lifting, right. Sickening.

3rd Season, Column 27: Bids are in; Big names in and out; Another Team or Two to Tout; & First Hand Forum, TX Coaches Edition

It’s like Christmas times 7 this week as the NCAA sent out their Golden Tickets, allocating spots for 278 out of 330 wrestlers who will be competing at the NCAA Championships later this month. Now, the athletes need to show they’re up to the task. They’ll do that by either winning their weight class at their Conference Tournament championships (10 weight classes, 7 conferences, so that’s 70 spots filled) or by (here’s where it gets a bit tricky) finishing in the next highest spot or spots (fill in the blank, the number is a variable) their conference was awarded at that particular weight class. How many spots are allocated to each weight class in each conference is a carefully calculated variable. One of the measurements is, obviously, the season long results of each wrestler in their own weight class and only for matches against other Division 1 opponents. Then there’s the R.P.I., the Ratings Percentage Index. The R.P.I. is a won-loss measurement carried out 3 levels deep. It takes into account a wrestlers record, his opponents records, and all their records. WHOA. But wait, theres more! There’s the Coaches Poll, where the votes from 14 Head Coaches (you hope), 2 from each of the seven conferences, are added up. Solve for X(3). Or, well, you get it. Its complicated, fairly accurate, and causes a lot more consternation and teeth gnashing than a Regional dog show or a Ms. Hawaian Tropic Bikini Contest.(1) In short, if “Conference A” wrestlers have a better cumulative rating than “Conference B” wrestlers, Conference A will get more automatic bids that their wrestlers can earn than Conference Bs wrestlers in that same weight class. Wait a minute…what if most or all of Conference Bs wrestlers, at whatever weight, beat Conference As wrestlers at that weight class if they competed head to head? No es importante, mi amigos y amigas, me v. you is a small part of this season long calculation of competence. It’s all about the season long competition unless it’s about what tournament or school your match was contested at, or when during the season the match was wrestled or, maybe, just maybe, a wee bit, that uniform you’re wearing or the conference your team is in. There’s bias in everything, but this is the methodology our sport has chosen for now. So here we go! The bid allocations for this season: BIG 10 Conference, 79; Big 12 Conference, 54; E.I.W.A., 44; MAC, 41; ACC, 35; PAC 12; 16, SoCon, 14. COME ON POST SEASON!

ROSTER REDACTIONS

LOTS of interesting changes have and are affecting a whole lotta teams as the post season begins this week. Easily one, if not THE, biggest puzzle piece potentially missing is 3X AA, 2X National champ Zahid Valencia, as of this writing OUT of the lineup for Arizona State. Reasons currently remain more rumors than fact but theres no doubt that with him the Sun Devils are a Top 10 lock, with a good shot at an even higher finish. Without his 20+ team points ASU might miss the Top 20. Much the same situation exists at UNI, where the #Panthertrain has apparently lost 2018AA 197LB Jacob “Hog” Holschlag again, if not for good. In a year where every single Top 197LB wrestler not named Kollin Moore has looked monstrous to “meh” on multiple occasions, a healthy Holschlag was an AA, 15-20 point lock. Utah Valleys suffered mightily this year as well, with R12 wrestlers 165LB Demetrius Romero and 149LB Matt Findlay forced out of the lineup early this year. The Wolverines will be down double digits in the post season even with the return of 2018 R12 star and U.S. Greco Roman team contender Taylor Lamont, who stepped out of redshirt straight into a buzzsaw 133LB weight class. NC States Nick Reenan has been way off form all season long at 197 too, with few results and perhaps even less chance for a pre post season return to form. Stanfords star (And 1st team All Name Squad) 149LB Requir van der Merwe suffered an injury default loss mid February to a wrestler he had majored at the Southern Scuffle the first week of January. It’s a tough, tough sport, and there are many more examples each and every season of contenders falling by the wayside.

DIPLOMATICALLY SPEAKING….

Franklin and Marshall was front and center at that fundamentally magnificent BBQ stop in N. Central San Antonio just a week or so back. Stopping by with appetites and leaving with smiles were 2 F&M ’17 graduates, Jonathan Meissner and Bradley Lanker. They both starred on the Diplomats Golf team, with Jonathan majoring in Environmental Studies and Bradley in Biology. They both were suprised and pleased by The Diplomats so far strong 2019-2020 campaign. It’s probably been quite enjoyable for long time (10 years) Head Coach Mike Rogers as well, especially after graduating 3 big time starters. Upper weight stars Paddy Quinlan, Phil Robilotto, and Antonio Pelusi took their 68 combined wins and late match heroics into the post graduate world, but F&M didn’t miss a beat. The Diplomats finished this year one win away from a .500 season and with some notable individual and team showings. One of their best came at their own David H. Lehman F&M Open. 4 Diplomats finished Top 6, with Will Gil, Noah Chan and Emmitt LiCastri all finishing “in odd numbers” with 3rd place showings. Gil, who notched 29 wins last season at 149, is nationally ranked wrestling down at 141 in his junior campaign. He’s equaled his 2019 win total and has the E I.W.A. (definite) and NCAA (HIGH possibility) tournaments yet to go. Chan can hit 20 wins with a break even effort at the E.I.W.A. Tournament, and Licastri, up at 165 for his last go round, is a sterling 26-10. The Grizzly bear sized hole at the end of the bench has, so far, been ably filled as well. Stepping in for the graduated Pelusi, a 3X National qualifier, is…another Pelusi. Brother Cenzo transferred from conference foe Drexel and has filled big bro Antonios very big shoes very ably, as his 20 win sophomore campaign has shown. The Diplomats should see their 3rd straight season of sending a competitor to the Nationals, and, possibly, more than 1. As to All American status, that may be another lofty goal for F&M to aspire to…next season.

“CLARION”, SAID SOME EXPERT SOMEWHERE….

The Open Mats Earl Smith. Yeah, him again. Few, including this author, saw much promise for the Golden Eagles this year. Last year, 7-7, with 6 losses by double digits, including 2 30 plus point beat downs. Injury liked what it saw in insult and the Golden Eagles saw their back to back hammers at 141 and 149, Taylor Ortz and Brock Zacherl, go down and out for the year in one day. Only RS Senior Evan DeLong made his way to Nationals, and the Golden Eagles finished their team season in 6th place out of 7 at the 44th and final EWL tournament. Well, time to scrape the predatory droppings off the ball cap and give full credit to the 10-6 (7-4 in the now much tougher MAC) Eagles of 2020. Coach Keith Ferraros squad had an 8 match win streak, finished mid pack at the CKLV, and beat in state rivals Edinboro, Lock Haven, and Bloomsburg in the same season for the 1st time in 18 years. All this accomplished with only 2 20 win starters, 197LB Greg Bulsak and 6th year 149LB Brock Zacherl, and with a 7-6 mark from 141LB mainstay Taylor Ortz. More on Bulsak next week, but you need to know that with 4 more wins Zacherl will tie Clarion legend Kurt Angle with 116 victories. One more positive post season note: Zacherl, Bulsak, and 285LB Ty Bagoly are a sterling 29-4 against conference foes this year.(2)

FIRST HAND FORUM-TX HS COACHES POST SEASON POINTS

At that comfy and cool BBQ stop in N. Central SA on Blanco Road(3) the genesis for a TX HS coaches sounding board came up. A format was developed and 5 questions were sent to over a dozen local coaches. Here, in their own words, unedited, is a TX HS wrestling season recap.

1. In you and your staffs measurements was your teams season a success, and how so?

HEAD COACH TIM CLARKSON, SMITHSON VALLEY RANGERS— In terms of total wrestlers, we were still growing the last week of the season. We finished with 70 total in our program and kids are still approaching us. This means that our kids are excited and they are selling what we do every day. With only 7 wrestlers our girls took 1st in the district and 3rd in the region. That said, most of our returning girls are still beginners and need to grow.

HEAD COACH EMILIO GARZA, S.A. LUTHER BURBANK BULLDOGS—

As a first year program and taking over the team late in the season, I would say yes and no. Yes, to the fact that we placed 2nd as a boys team within our district in the inaugural year, which helped our returning athletes mindset and confidence going into the offseason. As selfish as this sounds, the competitor in me says no, only for the fact that we did not get an athlete on the state podium. However, we did get a true state qualifier this year. I know that sounds absurd, mainly because it’s our first year (in U.I.L. wrestling) but I have the utmost confidence in our athletes that it can be done competitively year in and year out. I want to hold the program to a high standard, thus (building and) upholding a winning tradition. A tradition that this community on the Southside of San Antonio deserves and needs. Please do not assume that I only care about winning. I believe that as a Coach we are supposed to care for, love, mature and educate our athletes on the essentials of life. Teach them what a strong work ethic can do for you, doing right for others as well as yourself, and always being accountable. So, yes and no.

HEAD COACH JODY ODOM, S.A. LEE HS—Yes, the size and skill of our team increased. This year our Junior Varsity team was the largest it has ever been and produced the best results at the district tournament. Our varsity lost several veterans to graduation last year which led to many sophomore wrestlers and one freshman heavyweight stepping up to the varsity level sooner rather than later. Though the season results for the boys were not great as a team, almost everyone is coming back next year with the experience, knowledge and skills developed this year at a high level. Our girls team qualified 5 to Regionals and had one state placer. Our boys team qualified 3 for Regionals, 2 for State and an alternate, and 1 state placer. The girls team had a 2X District Champion and now Regional Champion. The Boys team now has a 2X District Champion and 2X Regional Champion and produced a new District and Regional Champion.

HEAD COACH ANDREW DUARTE II, S.A. KAREN WAGNER HS—Our team was successful this year not for sending two members of the team to the state meet, but by having members of our team step up and become leaders on campus not just in athletics. Our team not only took accolades for their athletic (endeavors) but also for having a member of the Academic All-District team.

2. How was the needle moved this season towards improving our sport this year in our city/area/state? If it, in your opinion, was not, what can be done?

CLARKSON—There are individual standouts who represented us well at the state level-they are great kids and wrestlers. Other school districts need to pick up the sport so that the wrestling community can spread and create more opportunities for the youth. The Dallas districts have now funded and staffed middle school programs-it’s going to be hard to keep up.

GARZA—I believe we have some of the best coaches in the state in our city of San Antonio. Not to mention some pretty amazing Club teams that help promote wrestling as much as possible. I just hope that more high schools in our area decide to get wrestling as a part of their athletic programs very soon. The more teams in our area the better for our wrestling community.

ODOM—Locally, moving the District tournament to Blossom Athletic Center was fantastic because it gave the tournament more credibility. We also had KSAT TV there covering the Finals which was huge for our visibility. Teams in our area continue to grow and new programs are starting every year. Participation state-wide continues to grow and we had more coverage of the state tournament by our local news team and Regional Fox team this year.

DUARTE II—When our state has the most wrestlers participating, we are taking steps in the right direction. U.I.L. has done a phenomenal job of promoting our sport, even setting up different ways to view the State Wrestling meet.

3. Please give your perspective on the best and the most challenging thing you and your team experienced this post-season.

CLARKSON—The best thing was relevance. Our young boys team won 5 out of their last 7 duals….confidence was gained. Our girls as always were strong and continue to bring home hardware. The most challenging thing to overcome was youth and inexperience followed by injuries. We only had 4 returning juniors. We didn’t get two of our best wrestlers back until mid-season and lost another because of injury in another sport. We had to stick lots of beginners into the fire quickly.

GARZA—Lack of experience. My state qualifier has only been wrestling for 3 to 4 months. Same with the rest of the team. We are taking our lumps so we can hopefully get better and be better and more competitive. Starting a program from scratch takes work, fun but a lot of work.

ODOM—Getting two wrestlers on the podium at the State Tournament was a huge success for our program this year. I don’t think LEE has had a boy and girl on the podium at the State Tournament before. Most challenging thing we experience is high level practice partners, especially during State week because of other sports starting (baseball and track) for our non-qualifiers.

DUARTE II—This year we had two brothers make the State Tournament which was pretty phenomenal.

4. Whom, and what successes, both team and individual, may we highlight from your season?

CLARKSON—Sage Benca, 10th. 48 wins, District Champ, 2X Regional Champ, 2X State Qualifier. 2019 State Freestyle Champ. Bella Ruiz, 12th. District Champ, 3rd, Region 4, 3X State Qualifier, 2019 State Greco Roman Champ. Molly Moczygemba, 12th. District Champ, 3rd, Region 4, State Qualifier. Zarek Holley, 11th, Ryan Benca, 11th, and Kobe Mora, 12th, 1st ever boys to qualify for State.

GARZA—In Luther Burbanks inaugural year the Boys team took 2nd place in District 14, 5A. Matthew Salazar became the first ever State qualifier (in Burbank H.S. history) at the 195LB weight class. 12 boys and 2 girls qualified for Regionals.

ODOM—Crystal Venegas, 10th. 2X District Champion, Regional Champion, 4th place at State at 110 LBS. Austin Hartmangruber, 10th. 2X District and Regional Champion, 145 LBS. Adam Bell, 12th. District Champion, Regional Champion, and 4th place at State at 220 LBS.

DUARTE II—Boys District Champions Sebastian Pacheco, 113LBS, Quentin Owens, 170LBS. (Newcomer of the Year also). Girls District Champion, Yadhira Lerma, 185LBS, Academic All-District as well. Regional Qualifiers: Boys, Sebastian Pacheco, Arturo Ostiguin, 132LBS, Matthew Pacheco, 145LBS, Lorenzo Esparza, 152LBS, Quentin Owens. Girls, Victoria Pacheco, 165LBS, Yadhira Lerma. State Qualifiers: Sebastian Pacheco, (Eliminated 3rd Round, Consolations Bracket, Matthew Pacheco, State Alternate.

5. In five years Texas wrestling, at the scholastic level, will be _________

CLARKSON-still growing and evolving. I hope that the schools in Region 4 can someday mount a challenge across the board to the other Regions.

GARZA—be one of the top wrestling states in the country. (Wrestling) will continue to grow all over the state as more schools which traditionally did not have wrestling will now create programs. Should be very fun. My hopes are to win a team district and Regional Championship with the Girls and Boys team in the near future. (We will) hopefully have multiple State placers in the years to come. That’s for sport. In terms of life, I hope all of my athletes here at Burbank become very successful adults. Adults that this Southside community can be proud of.

ODOM—more competitive, more visible, and more popular.

DUARTE II—will be on par with the other major sports. Meaning we will be signing athletes to continue their wrestling careers at the next level. I would also love to see wrestling implemented at the middle school level.

See you next week!

Ted Carreras

(1) Having been fortunate enough to have watched many of one and judged one of the other, it can honestly be said they’re all winners. Especially if they’re Aussies. Both the dogs and the bikinis.

(2) Outstanding news, notes and features about Clarion are accessible all year long from their website, excellently coordinated on the wrestling (and for 7 other sports as well!) by SID Sean Fagan. Thank you, Mr. Fagan, and should you come to San Antonio, theres a BBQ plate with your name on it.

(3) At that one particular BBQ restaurant, BTW. Which one? Look for the HUUUGE parking lot, Big ole Oaks, 2, count em, 2, dog friendly patios, and a parade, not a line, of happy customers. Just sayin.

3rd Season, Column 26; End of the Season News and Notes; ‘Cue the Local Angle; and some teams you need to know about

Whew. That was some season, folks. Let’s start with the obvious and branch out in all directions, shall we?

The Iowa Hawkeyes have returned to the rarefied air their legion of black and gold clad fans love and expect them to occupy on a permanent basis. They are undefeated, ranked #1, have 9 of their 10 starting wrestlers ranked in the Top 10, and are favored to win both the BIG10 Conference Tournament and the National Championship. Stay healthy, wrestle to their seed and their own expectations, and the Hawkeyes will earn 2 more 1st place trophies this season to put next to their Midlands Title crown.

NC State finished their first ever undefeated dual meet season and the Pack did it in style. They went 15-0. They beat Pitt, UNC, and VA Tech back to back to back in 3 straight Top 10 showdowns. They doubled the score on SoCon Silver Medal team App State. They hammered E.I.W.A. force and perennial Top 10 team Cornell. They hung a near 20 point beatdown on Chris Ayres surging Princeton Tigers. They tripled the score on Virginia and crushed 11-5 Hostra by 30 plus. 9 of their 12 victims finished with winning records. They were 8th at the Cliff Keen and, a month later, 2nd at the Scuffle. Get the picture yet? The #AmericanWerewolves are coming to a mat near you.

4X defending National Champions Penn State lost twice this year, their first dual meet defeats in 5 seasons. That the losses were on the road to Top 5 ranked Arizona State and #1 Iowa by a combined 3 points did little to mitigate the shock waves felt throughout the sport. The Lions, by necessity, retooled their lineup at 125, 157, 184, and 285 but remain a legitimate BIG 10 Tournament and National title threat. That they are not favored to win either following the regular seasons conclusion remains startling, however, given the last decades results.

Campbell charges into the SoCon Tournament on a 9 match win streak and as the undisputed Regular season champs. Half the starters have a better than 4-1 win/loss ratio with 6 of them at 20 plus victories each. Add all those W’s up, mix in a couple of Silver showings at the Navy Classic and the Reno Tournament of Champions, and you’re looking at a Conference tournament favorite and a potential multiple AA showing in Minneapolis.

Northern Iowa was the “trendy” pick for a Top 10 showing in this column and many other places. That belief wavered when 2017 AA Max Thomsens year refused to develop traction. It threatened to disappear when 2018 AA Jacob Holschlag was injured in his first match back from a years absence and his forced removal from the lineup following another in season, potentially career ending setback. Then the roller coaster really started. A 6 match win streak that started with a solid “w” over 7X MAC Champ Missouri and included a 19-15 defeat of Oklahoma State. The win over the Cowboys, who have captured the last 7 Big 12 titles, was a very big deal. Which made the downdrop, a 2 point loss to state rival ISU, that much more uncomfortable. If all that wasn’t enough, the #Panthertrain then road tripped to Madison and roared out with a 20-18 win over BIG10 power Wisconsin. 125LB Jakob Schwarms pin of Wisconsin star freshman Eric Barnett was the Panther seniors 15th of the year, the nation’s best total. UNI can still fulfill most everyone’s predictions if…Schwarm keeps putting good wrestlers in very bad positions, if 2019 165LB AA Bryce Steiert repeats that feat at 174, if Taylor Lujan stays torrid at 184, if 141LB Michael Blockhus and 285LB Carter Isley make it to Fridays rounds at Nationals, and especially if Thomsen reverses a 3 year trend of winning less and losing more each season. View here is still that UNI, this season, are more Panther Cats than Panther can’ts.

Missouri tied down their 8th straight title, and their 9th consecutive conference crown overall, in a season they entered with 3 new coaches out of 4, 5 starters (with 9 AA seasons between them) graduating, redshirting, or abandoning the program, and one they exited with more losses than the last 4 seasons combined. Do NOT try to tell this author or any other moderately intelligent wrestling fan that #TigerStyle isn’t a thing. You can conference/team bias BS your way into any wrestling argument you want, but argue that Brian Smiths work in Columbia is not only incredible but indisputable and you will lose that argument, my friend. The MAC is now, by virtue of the E.W.L. marrying into the family this season, a superconference in both size, geographic reach, and combined history. The Tigers will be sorely tested to take the tournament title home from Dekalb, Illinois back to Columbia. But they surely can. And no one with a lick of wrestling sense should be suprised if they do.

Princeton broke the brooms out in New Jersey on the seasons last weekend, finally defeating in-state bully boy and BIG10 power Rutgers 18-15. It wasn’t just that this was the Tigers first win over the Scarlet Knights in 30 years or the fact that, with their 32-9 demolition of 12-3 MAC East Champ Rider, Princeton won the NJ D1 title for this first time in nearly 4 decades. It was the season long grit on display from Chris Ayres crew, wrestling with a schedule that had 5, count em, 5 Top 10 teams and 3 more in the Top 25. This years Tigers are NJ champs, Ivy League Champs, and are a very serious threat to send half their team to the Nationals. Observant wrestling fans will probably say “not 6”? That potentially sad statistical note comes from numerous professional observers accounts of the R-U barnburner, reporting that Princetons AA 197LB Patrick Brucki sufered a knee injury early on in his match against Rutgers Jordan Pagano. Brucki finished the match, losing by 1, and helping to save his teams victory by not giving up any bonus points. That he may have lost a chance at any more personal success this season speaks to his desire for team success far above and beyond his own accolades. Last year the Tigers finished 3rd at the brutally hard E.I.W.A. tournament and top 15 at the Nationals. They were on track to improve both when 3XAA Matt “MK Ultra” Kolodzik came out of redshirt. Brucki-less, not so much. Here’s fervent hopes for Princeton to put their “unvarnished truth” lifestyle and some carbon from those burned ships into their wheelbarrow and have a fully healthy 197LB horse Hot wheel them to both an E.I.W.A. medal and a Top 10 finish in Minneapolis.

WAIT, THEY DID WHAT? WHOA….

SDSU may have come out on the short end of their Border Bell Battle with NDSU by 1, 19-18, but in Coach Damion Hahns second season at the helm the JackRabbits finished 12-6, and 6-3 in the ever improving Big 12. HUGE ups from Hahns first year in Brookings, when his rookie Rabbits were a dismal 3-10, with just 2 conference wins. Highlights? The JackRabbits rolled them out in abundance this year. A 3-1 record at the South Beach Duals. a 5 match mid season win streak with a double digit win over double tough Northern Iowa and a 1 point barnburner home victory against Wyoming. SDSU will double-tan your hide, with 165LB Tanner Cooks 12 pins and 197LB Tanner Sloans 11-1 mark in bonus point matches. Theres athletes from New York state to Washington state, from the warm climes of Arizona, California and TX to the winter bound wrestling rooms of Iowa, Wisconsin, and of course neighboring Minnesota and the home state. Suprising that there’s nary a grappler from “T-S-U-N”, Dakotas style, on their roster? We think not.

The one gifted with gab and great hair, Ben “Funky” Askren, expounded excellently on his “On Deck” Podcast about the upswing experienced out Long Island way this year, so this treatise on the rebound success of Dennis Papadatos Hofstra crew will be brief. Last year, bad. 6-14. Multiple season ending injuries. This year, good. 11-5. Undefeated, 7-0, in the E.I.W.A. 5 starters staring at 20 win seasons. A full season of Hellers, with 149LB Reece, 165LB Holden, and 174LB Sage, with Reece tied for the team lead in wins (19) and all 3 set to return next season. An established anchor at both ends of the lineup with 125LB Dylan Ryder and 285LB Zachary Knighton-Ward. This is a dual meet dynamo of a team, as their 8 match season ending win streak highlights. That part of the season is done, now the question is what translates to the 2 day gruesomeness that is the E.I.W.A. tournament in Bethlehem, PA. Thats next weeks column. Told you this would be brief.

Army West Point has been on an upswing since the arrival of Coach Kevin Ward, but this year the Black Knights of the Hudson truly secured the high ground. The #chasinggreatness team finished a fantastic 10-3, winning 4 out of 5 E.I.W.A. duals. Along the way Army took matches from top teams in the BIG 10, the MAC, the Big 12 and the SoCon with only a 7 point loss to UNC preventing a multi conference sweep.(1) NONE of this, not a bit, came close to the sweetness savored by Army when they won their 4th straight STAR match over Navy…..on hostile ground, in Annapolis…..by CRITERIA. Coach Wards message to his team prior to the epic showdown was less than 30 seconds in length but thousands of years in the proving. He told his men that to win, they had to be no more than what they had prepared themselves all their lives to be. They had to be….what they are. What they are is……ARMY STRONG.

When John Clark takes a post regular season, pre-E.I.W.A. tournament breath, it’s going to be with a smile on his face. With a completely retooled staff and a tough schedule the Pioneers put together an 8-6 season. They held a prodigious 48 man roster through the end of the schedule. The Sacred Heart Head Coach and his program were sole subjects of the authors Season 2, Column 7: A Mission for Mr. Clarke & Company, 11/26/18. Recently they hit the big time in a long form interview with Andy Hamilton and Kyle Klingman of TrackWrestling.(2) And they have a coach with the chops to take them to the best versions of themselves. New England needs an established wrestling power base. Brown and Harvard have taken a bold step in establishing a joint RTC, Regional Training Center. Now its Sacred Hearts turn to help complete a TRINITY of wrestling greatness beyond the PA, NJ, and NY power base.

‘CUE THE LOCAL ANGLE: SHOUTOUTS TO S. TX. WRESTLERS, COACHES, MOMS, DADS, & MEDIA(4)

At that critically ignored, customer-crave catering BBQ spot smack dab between 410 and 1604 on Blanco Road in beautiful North Central San Antonio, the pre and post season parties for those who follow the worlds greatest sport were many and varied and will continue into the weeks ahead. First and foremost this column will attempt due diligence in noting our marvelous immediate area athletes who put their hearts and souls into this season, and whose efforts were rewarded by that most magnificent of accomplishments: a spot EARNED, not given, at the U.I.L. State Wrestling Championships.

CLASS 5A

113LB Sebastian Pacheco, SA Wagner Jr. 12-9

195LB Matthew Salazar, SA Burbank Jr. 21-12

6A

106 Troy Guerra, SA Johnson So. 18-6

Zarek Hernandez, SA Reagan Jr. 36-4 3rd place

Only a decision loss to undefeated State Champ Eamon Jimenez of Killeen Ellison prevented Zarek from a state finals berth.

113 Joseph Davila, SA Madison Jr. 37-20

Ethan Huerta, SA MacArthur So. 34-11

120 Juan Lugo, SA Madison Sr. 40-10

Luis Rodriguez, Converse Judson Sr. 31-10

126 Brett Green, Comal Canyon Jr. 34-20

Scott Killian, SA Johnson Sr. 46-8

Aiden Valadez, New Braunfels So. 23-15

3 out of the top 4 spots in the region were claimed by area athletes, with 2 returning next season.

132 Xavier Sanchez, SA MacArthur Sr. 19-8

Austin Saylor, Cibolo Steele Sr. 44-12

138 DeShawn Cosby, Schertz Clemens Jr. 36-4 2nd place

Amir Musalli, SA Reagan Jr. 27-13

145 Isiah Dugar, Converse Judson Sr. 43-8

Austin Hartmangruber, SA Lee So. 22-5

152 Cameron Laurel, New Braunfels Sr. 38-15

Caleb Sebra, SA Johnson So. 48-11 4th place

RaShaud Hunt, SA Roosevelt So. 35-17 Another weight class where area athletes ruled Region 4. Roosevelt’s Hunt and Johnsons Sebra, a sophomore Regional Champ, have 2 more years to settle their differences.

160 Darwin Hull, Schertz Clemens Jr. 51-2. 2nd place

Tommy Smith, SA Madison Jr. 30-19

170 Landon Marsh, New Braunfels Fr. 38-10

Quinn Porter, SA Churchill Jr. 32-19

Ethan Laws, Comal Canyon Sr. 35-19. While all 4 Region 4 state qualifiers (3 from the immediate area) went 0-2 at State, there’s hope returning next year in Churchills outstanding student-athlete Porter(3) and Marsh, a rare freshman upper-weight champ.

182 Jackson Macias, Schertz Clemens So. 34-9

Noah Cairns, New Braunfels So. 25-8

Another multi year battle in full brew between these 2 bordering counties contestants, with Cairns eliminating Macias in the Blood round. Cairns then avenged a 2nd round loss by pin with his 5th place match victory over Vincenzo Oliva from 10 time team State Champ Allen HS.

195 Chris Pruske, SA Churchill Sr. 50-13 4th place

Marcos Mercado, SA Roosevelt Sr. 29-11

It was a “Fab 50” win season for stellar Churchill senior Pruske, a multi sport academic and athletic star at the Scribes adopted HS, just a rib bones throw away from, yeah, that’s right, that BBQ restaurant.

220 Braxton Zarate, New Braunfels Sr. 31-12

Adam Bell, SA Lee Sr. 30-6 4th place

Kobe Mora, Smithson Valley Sr. 29-14

6 out of 8 Region 4 spots in the “big bad boyz” weight classes were scooped up by immediate area grapplers. 3 seniors highlighted 220 and “the big redhead,” Lee’s Adam Bell, will be heading to Colorado Springs to compete for the Air Force Academy.

285 Adam Miller, SA Churchill Jr. 19-14

Ryan Benca, Smithson Valley Jr. 32-15

George Marsh, New Braunfels Sr. 41-0

Both Benca and Miller have to notice the T-Rex sized hole in their weight class as they head into preparation for the 2020-2021 season. 3X state medalist and this seasons undefeated champ, George Marsh of New Braunfels, is graduating and headed….where, exactly? Seems here that a young man who can navigate the current currents of young adulthood while winning 3 medals, a state title, and posting 37 straight wins by pin should be on about, oh, a hundred or so coaches call list. Thought here is that 615 is an area code the big (young) man ought to have on speed dial. Not saying, not recruiting, just sayin….

See you next week!

Ted Carreras

  1. NO PAC 12 matchups for The Long Gray Line this year despite a West Coast road trip to open the season. Que lástima, PAC 12, no es bueno.
  2. Cannot wait to listen, though sometimes theres a quiet hope that Andy will tire of Kyle’s often inane nick naming and rabbit holeing each and every show opening, and just mackerel-smack some sense into his brilliant but screwy co-host.
  3. The “Fab Female Super Fans 4” of Churchill wrestling refreshed their energy after a team State send-off last Thursday at…well, you know where. SHOUT OUTS to Super Fans Misty Simmang, Jessica McMillan, Sarah Snyder, and team Captain Debra Porter, mother of Quinn, and relentless wrestling cheerleader. THANK YOU, ladies, one and all!!
  4. Big time “goodonyers”, as they say Down Under, to Express News Correspondent Jason McDaniel, Texas Wrestling, Track Wrestling, The Dallas Morning News, and our area coaches for insight, assistance, persistence, and understanding.

3rd Season, Column 25; Its the Title, not the Tarheel State; Princeton scratches their Ivy Itch; Medium Notes on the Big Boys; ‘Cue the Local Angle; and SoCon News

RALEIGH, BUIES CREEK, CHAPEL HILL AND BOONE STAKE CLAIMS AS WRESTLINGS SOUTHERN EPICENTER

Have there ever been headier moments in the state of North Carolinas college wrestling history? One might have to look far to find this many teams reaching this level of success the same season. In the span of about 10 days Campbell, NC State, App State and UNC locked down regular season conference titles or runner up positions in the SoCon and the ACC. Cary Kolats Camels beat App State 20-13. Against the Mountaineers the score was 16-13 heading into the last match. Coach Kolat mentioned in a post match interview(1) that the Camels knew, with a loss, the teams were headed to a contest decided by criteria. Nationally ranked 133LB Noah Gonser, the senior transfer from the assassinated Eastern Michigan program, made sure that didn’t happen. His 11-2 major decision win over defending conference champion Codi Russell locked down the 9th win of the season for the Camels. Kolats crew got a second MD victory from 184LB Andrew Morgan to help offset the Mountaineers Matt Zovitovskis MD over scrappy Matt Dallara. Even bigger, the Camels took both of the matches decided by 1 point. 5 of Campbells wrestlers are unbeaten in conference action. After the 38-6 weekend win over VMI Campbell will finish with no worse than a tie for first. They’ll finish first as they will send Davidson to their 6th straight defeat to close the regular season for both teams. Campell will be 11-2 this year having only lost to Top 10 ranked Pitt and Top 5 ranked Arizona State. And the team Campbell beat out for this years crown? Appalachian State is 8-3 and a prohibitive favorite over VMI in the Mountaineers last dual. Top 15 Campbell, Top 10 UNC and Top 5 NC ST are the only teams to beat the Mountaineers this year. Only the undefeated WolfPack won by double digits over App State, and for the 2nd straight year the ‘Eers will host the SoCon tournament. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels secured their place in the ACC silver seat, rebounding from their loss to NC ST by toppling fellow Top 10 conference foe Pitt. At 13-2 UNC faces 2 formidable foes to finish the regular season. The conference road match against Virginia, followed by a two days later meeting with Arizona State, is a brutal run to the finish for Coach Coleman Scotts Tar Heels. Except that NO ONE in Carolina Blue feels like this season will end anywhere short of the Tar Heels highest national finish in a quarter century. UNC is young with only 157LB AC Headlee leaving after this year. The final 4th of this Fab 4, NC State, sits on the precipice of team history. They are 14-0 with 3 straight Top 10 wins. Unless the meteor hits or the coronavirus ravages Raleigh, the WolfPack will make swift work of Duke and finish as one of just 2 unbeaten teams in the country. Special times indeed for “The Title State”.

WHEELBARROW, SCRIPT GET FLIPPED AMONGST THE IVY

The unvarnished truth, a 92 match win streak, and an 18 year record were all broken a short week or so back as Chris Ayres Princeton Tigers short circuited the Iron Giant of the Ivy League. Princeton’s 19-13 triumph over Rob Kolls mighty Cornell squad broke the Big Reds near double decade on the Ivy League wrestling title and an unbeaten streak nearly 100 league contests long. It also validated, in its own way, BOTH coaches unwavering dedication to the sport and their athletes. Ayres decade long plus struggles to raise the Tigers from far below wrestlings Mendoza line to League Championship and Top 10 status deserves more than news stories.(2) Somebody somewhere needs to make a damn movie or a 3 act play out of this saga, folks. Or both. While Princetons future is unwritten but appears very shiny and the past is a pain filled lesson their present can barely fit under the National Christmas Tree. The Tigers have tangled with superpowers OK ST and Iowa and held their own as well as anyone and better than most. It’s going to get even better now that 3X AA Matt “MK Ultra” Kolodzik is out of his Olympic redshirt and on course for a 149LB title run. Thought here remains that that weight class is UNCs Austin O’Connors to lose, but Kolodzik may just alter that reality. As to the coach on the opposite side of this year’s epic Ivy League showdown, note this…how many coaches would assist 4 out their 10 starters in passing on the same season for pursuit of potential Olympic glory? Cornells Rob Koll did just that with this years squad. Más kudos to the wrestling CEO of Ithaca, both doing what’s best for his team of young stallions and betting on BIG returns next year.

MEDIUM NOTES ON THE BIG BOYS

Iowa is unbeaten. They won the BIG10 regular season title with a close win against Penn State and far far far away wins over everybody else. After winning the title Coach Brands gave them t-shirts and they kept moving forward. Their team trainer said they were her team and she was proud of them. Maybe one of them is. Her team, that is. If they get married their kids will probably be Iowa wrestlers, don’t you think?

Penn State lost 2 close matches, to Iowa and Arizona State. They had far far far away wins over everybody else also, except Ohio State and Nebraska. Lots of late season lineup changes for Penn State. Whether they help change Penn States silver status back to the usual Gold this coming post season isn’t a black and white or a blue and white matter. More like Black and Gold.

Nebraska only lost to Iowa by 20. This year, most teams lost to Iowa by 30, or 40. They lost to Penn State by 2 and should have won. Now they’ve won 5 straight. If they beat Minnesota they’ll finish the regular season in the Top 5. If Isaiah White has two healthy ankles and the team has 1 healthy heavyweight they will finish Top 5 in the Nation.

The Ohio State University wears more Black than Scarlet and Gray lately. All those nifty new unis dont guarantee any more Gold for their wearers, or their team. Maybe they need another Gas Tank or two to keep them on the road to the podium in Minneapolis.

NC State-see the first paragraph. The #AmericanWerewolves are looking for a pack member to stand out at 149 and step up at 197. Everywhere else, look out. This entire team returns next season. How do you better unbeaten? The Pack will hunt that answer next year.

Arizona State said this year would be their year 5 years ago when the Sun Devils invited the nations best recruiting class to Tempe. Those young men were smart and accepted. Those young men are smarter, better, and seniors now. Catch Jason Bryant’s long form interview with 3XAA, 2X National Champ Zahid Valencia for some fun Sun Devils stuff. This year JBs pretty much the only one having any kind of fun when the Sun Devils come to town. ASU is 14-1, won the PAC 12 regular season title and they’ll win the tournament. That’s fun, Sun Devils style. AND you can wear shorts on their campus in season. OUTDOORS.

UNC-see the first paragraph. The Tar Heels are in negotiations to rent a spot in the Top 15 with an option to buy Top 10. Some heavy hitters from Tempe are bringing a deal to Chapel Hill that may be too pricey this year, but the market is volatile. Expect Carolina blue to be a dominant shade of that color as long as Coleman Scott and co. are stirring the paint pots.

Oklahoma State won the Southern Scuffle by 7 over NC State. They won The Bedlam dual against in-state, in-conference, under the skin rival Oklahoma twice. They beat MAC Champ Missouri and Top 10 ranked Pitt by 20. They beat last years Big 12 conference runner up Iowa State by double digits. They’re 13-2. They’ll have multiple All Americans and should finish Top 10 in the nation. In other words, a down year in Stillwater.

Wisconsins 2020 season looks a lot like Wisconsins 2019 season. Last year they started 6-0. Same thing this year. Last year they opened BIG 10 competition with a loss. Same thing this year. Last year they had a mid season losing streak. Same thing this year. What’s different? A double digit win season. Transfers Seth Gross and Johnny Sebastian in action. A half dozen talented freshmen and redshirt freshman getting their shots early, often, and with success. Back to back Top 4 finishes at the Midlands highlighted by a titlist, Gross. Different as in better. BIG 10 tournament and NCAA Championships performances better? Most definitely. How much better? Measurably. And unless your name is Chris Bono,(3) Jon Reader, Matt McDonough, or a few other select folks, you, like the Scribe, aren’t close enough to measure Buckys improvements either.(4)

Pitts been in the Top 10 most of this season. They will finish 3rd or 4th in the ACC this year in the regular season and in the tournament and are a Top 15 threat at Nationals. The ACC is improving faster than any other conference. It’s easier to improve 6 teams than it is 12, 14, 15, or 17, but you still have to do the work. Coach Keith Gavin and his staff are. #Pinzburgh.

VA Tech, with their 3 point road loss to NC State, the career-ending injury status of Brent Moore, and absence of defending National champion Mekhi Lewis to Olympic redshirt status, has slipped a bit. Or have they? They face fellow Top 10 team Pitt on the road for 3rd place in the ACC. Win or lose Coach Tony Robies crew will send at least half the team to Minneapolis. Expect multiple All Americans from #dadirtybirdz and a bigger, badder, faster flock flying in for a podium perch in 2021.

Northern Iowas season was predicted down to a “T” in an earlier column this year. The only absence in accuracy is a sad one, as 2018 AA 197LB Jacob “Hog” Holschlags career may be over. Healthy, he was a lock for AA status and double digit points at Nationals. UNI was a Top 10 lock with him. Without him, with a bitter 2 point road loss to in state Big 12 rival Iowa State, and with a road trip season finale at tough Wisconsin looming, things look just a bit off in Cedar Falls. But not by much. Look for 5 to 7 Panthers advancing through the Big 12 Tournament to Nationals. About that Wisconsin match-how much cash money would you pay to see the dual if it included a Schwab-Bono no ref, no time limit, steel cage lumberjack chain submission match? Seriously, where’s Vince McMahon when you need him?

Iowa State has resurrected their season with a late in the year tongue lashing from Kevin Dresser and the aforementioned “Hilton magic” 2 point win over Northern Iowa. This columns All Overlooked and Underrated 285LB selection, Gannon “The Grim One” Gremmel, has done the thing for ISU all season long. He sewed up the win over UNI with a shutout victory over fast, athletic Carter Isley. As per the gracious, helpful, and resourceful Emily(5) at the Big 12 Offices in Irving, the conference does not recognize a regular season champ. Doubt that will stop the Cyclones from celebrating a bit should they finish the Big 12 slate 7-1 by breaking NDSUs 6 match win streak Sunday. There IS that little matter of a Saturday afternoon date in Columbia with old Big 8/Big 12 rival Missouri, though. Tigers AND Bison for Cyclones, oh my.

Minnesotas been streaking like a loon chasing love on Lake Superior. Or a couple of hungry Texas tourists to a table full of Abelskiver pancakes and Lingonberry jam.(6) Wins and losses have stacked up the Gophers fortunes one way and another since November, and they host Nebraska to end the BIG 10 dual meet season. It’s an 0-2 run to a finish line date with the Cornhuskers and Goldys coming off 20 and 30 point back to back beatdowns by Penn State and Iowa. Thanks SO much, BIG 10 schedule makers. Lose to Nebraska and Minnesota finishes 9-8, under .500 in conference action and limping into the BIG 10 Tournament. Not the preferred post season entrance nor the one expected after last years rebound campaign. Even pre season sure 285LB titlist-to-be Gable Steveson is not an über lock, though that’s more Michigan Hvwt Mason Parris (25-0) work than any fault on Gables part. That match didn’t happen when the teams met, regular season style. Parris was ready. Steveson, probably. More than likely.

SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON….

The brutal regular season schedule for UTC: 8 Top 25 teams, with 2 in the Top 15 and 3 in the Top 10. That that produced an 0-7 non-conference mark so far is not suprising. Nor is the Mocs 3rd place regular season finish. This schedule was set to be the fire to forge the Mocs for a successful post season. After defeating the Citadel 39-9 UTC faces rebuilding BIG10 team Indiana and their homegrown dynamo of a coach, Angel Escobedo. Win that tough test and the Mocs will be as ready as possible for the one day expanded SoCon Tournament. 149LB Tanner Smith’s 22 wins leads the team, and the while only 4 starting Mocs have winning records, more than half will finish that way. If Mason Wallace can hold his new weight at 141 and finish strong, then 7 Mocs out of 10 will finish 2020 above .500 and 6 can return. Nary a peep all season about team Co Captain 141LB Chris Debiens season ending injury way back in November. How good it would be for him to want and be granted an extra year of eligibility. How unlikely, unfortunately, that is.

The Citadels loss to UTC was their 16th straight defeat by the Mocs, and the Bulldogs own just 3 wins in 43 tries vs. UTC. No matter. They can clinch a .500 season with a win over conference and military school rival VMI in the Bulldogs season ending match this weekend. Realistically only sophomore 165LB Dazjon “Cheese” Casto has a good shot at making it to the Nationals. Hes 21-11, but has dropped 2 consecutive conference matches. If hes seeded 4th, instead of 2nd or 3rd as deserved, he will have to wrestle 4 matches, winning 3, in about 8 hours, to even have a shot at making Nationals. OUCH. Such is the fate of those who face the top seed of a small tournament in the second round. To be fair, last time Casto and SoCon top 165LB Quentin Perez of Campbell tangled, it was a 1 point match. One more Citadel, sort of, note, its “bayar khürgeye”(7) to former Bulldogs AA Turtogtokh Luvsandorj, new Volunteer assistant Coach for Troy Nickersons crew at Northern Colorado.

VMI, who would politely acknowledge if not applaud this Citadel alumni accomplishment, are surely more focused on breaking their current 8 match losing streak. It all hinges on the 1 day, 2 team South Carolina showdown with the Citadel at noon, and a ride to Clinton for a 6 pm tangle with Presbyterian. The Keydets can win both, lose both, or split. The choice is theirs. Not so in the season ender the next day at App State. That’s a loss. The benefit of this scheduling is getting VMI star “Nasty” Neal Richards ready for a run at AA status, and toughening youngsters Job Chisko and Zach Brown to challenge for a SoCon podium spot. Seniors Chris Beck and Max Gallahan face an overabundance of talent and a dearth of available National qualifying spots for their weight classes. Que Lastima, but fortunately for ALL of us, the young men at these institutions are ALL big time winners in life. Glad they’re on our side!

Gardner Webbs 5th win of the year was their 4th in a row, and it was a sweet double digit defeat of in state, in conference small school rival Davidson. The Runnin’ Bulldogs are 2 matches in 2 duals away from a winning record this year, quite a showing for Coach Daniel Elliott’s bunch. They wont beat mid level MAC powers Buffalo or Ohio on the road this weekend, but G-W looks about as good as they can get coming down the stretch. As has been the case all season RS Freshman 165LB RJ Mosley and 197/285LB “swing” big man Roderick Davis have led the dog pack. Mosley is in a tough but manageable wt. class come SoCon tournament time, especially if he can secure the 2nd or 3rd seed. Davis won’t make it to Nationals at 285, but he can make a case at 197 with a finals berth. The NC State transfer has the goods to challenge Campbells Chris Kober, and Davis hung tough with VMIs All Academy finalist Zach Brown in a 3 point loss. No ones beating UTCs Rodney Jones but…a true 2nd place at 197 has at least a long shot for an at large bid. Davis is NOT getting past nationally ranked heavies Jere Heino or Cary Miller, though. Period. 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. While only Mosleys guaranteed a winning record this year, the 2020 wrestling season is already in the plus column in Boiling Springs.

Davidson will finish the regular season with 3 wins and a 6 match losing streak. That’s 7 losses in a row less and 1 win more than 2019. Small steps in the right direction for the small NC school with the massive entrance requirements, cost, and in state/regional competition for talent. Freshman 125LB Cian Fischer is the only Wildcat with a realistic chance at a winning record either in conference or overall this year. A reset, easier non conference schedule, an expanded roster with upgraded talent and another full off season of progress could nudge these Cats towards respectability. Cats, especially wild ones, will do what they want. Lets see if Davidsons willing to grind yet another 8 months to start seeing some results. Their coaches, Andy Lausier, Joey Dance, and Chad Walsh, can and will get them there. Do they want to make the trip?

Presbyterians 1st trip around the block has been fairly impressive all things considered. They won a match and were competitive in one or two others. They could possibly upset VMI this weekend, but it would take a heroic home mat effort and a bit of a collapse on the Keydets part. Success in the 2020-2021 season should be measured by fielding a full team for every dual, planning two combined Mens and womens events to highlight their unique D1 status, and starting a home and home with the Little Rock Trojans. Some things are so obvious. Speaking of obvious, Director of Wrestling Mark Cody, will you use some of your connections to help connect Little Rock to the SoCon? Like they belong in the PAC 12? That union could have given Zsa Zsa Gabor “marriage of convenience” lessons.

‘CUE THE LOCAL ANGLE…

At that pretty special San Antonio pit stop for pit meats, fine sides, good salads and better customers the wrestling community of South TX dropped by Saturday and Sunday for a post Regional celebratory chowdown. Most prominent in numbers and enthusiasm were, again, those Purple clad Panthers from down Weslaco way. Coach Rolando Becerras sturdy crew are sending two to the TX State Tournament this year but everybody got a fine, full of good food and good luck sendoff. Revisit Coach Bs spot on honesty on the values our sport imports and the challenges of educating a small, deep South Texas community about wrestling in his interview in an earlier column this season. Then cheer on the Panthers! As to our local San Antonio mat stars, Johnson HS State qualifier 128LB Shyla Doolittle and family came by and regaled the Scribe with the Lady Jaguars Regional exploits. 95LB Ashlee Messer and 102LB Mikayla Herber will join Shyla at States, giving San Antonio Johnson a formidable lightweight presence. Look for these ladies to do brave things, and if you see Johnson Coach Lee Miller, please tell him we are now looking forward to a post States recap at the restaurant. Interview on him, dessert on us. If that’s U.I.L. kosher, of course. Next weeks column will feature a look see at many of the Region 4 stars headed to State, and hopefully an update from some if not most of our area coaches.

See you next week!

Ted Carreras

(1) Excellent post match audio/video from @gocamelswrestle on Twitter.

(2) Bill Evans from NJ Advance Media/NJ.com was the bomb-diggity descriptor for this epic match

(3) The Scribe has grown from casual to avid Chris Bono fan since first viewing him in his days starring for the Bolles School in Jacksonville.

(4) SOLID advice: do not, in any way, attempt to measure a badger. Even when they’re asleep. Because Badgers don’t sleep. They WAIT.

5. Ms. Emily made multiple calls and circled back to the Scribe with the goods in under a minute. Whatever they’re paying her, it’s not enough.

6. The Scribe and his lovely bride (2/15/90-the marriage date, not the birthday, dont get it twisted) viewed this and tasted that on a sojourn to MN late Spring 1997. RIP, Margit & Johannes, the marvelous Norwegian hosts at the now defunct Lindgrens B&B in Lutsen.

(7) Congratulations in Mongolian. Had to look it up.

3rd Season, Column 24: Confer-ence crowns both locked down and in Dispute; SoCon News; and Random Ramblings

The Mid American Conference and the Eastern Wrestling League eloped last off season, and the now sprawling Superconference has produced some highly entertaining results. Missouri, Old Dominion, Lock Haven, Rider, and Central Michigan held the Top 5 spots in the Preseason Coaches Poll. Brian Smith’s Tigers have faced two of their ranked brethren and earned wins over Old Dominion and Central Michigan. The Tigers took a 24-8 win over ODU at the South Beach Duals in Ft. Lauderdale and a 25-13 road win at Mt. Pleasant from Tom Borellis Chippewas. They wont face Lock Haven or Rider, and Mizzous 20-12 victory over Cleveland State clinched at least a tie for their 9th straight conference title. Only John Hangeys Rider Broncs can tie them. That’s if Rider wins their last home dual versus Clarion…..AND if Missouri falls to 2-11 SIUE. Kinda looks like another crown, regular season style, is coming to Columbia. Mizzou has lost multiple All American wrestlers and all star coaches from last season and more duals this year than the past 5 campaigns combined. #TigerStyle just keeps on performing, though, and will as long as BHH Head Coach Brian Smith is standing at the gate in Columbia. One addition to the Tigers fold, 2x West VA National qualifier and 3X Missouri state H.S. champion Matthew Schmitt. Schmitts a Grad student transfer who has 2 years of eligibility left. Despite the unlikelihood of catching Missouri, Rider has looked strong and the Broncs hit the weekend at 9-2. There was both hope and expectation that they could challenge BIG 10 power and in state rival Rutgers. First, though, they went down to the wire in a win against former EWL foe Lock Haven. These are two smaller schools with big talent and, well, its Jerzey v. PA mat style. Lots of pride there, and that 3 point win by the #straightouttaLawrenceville crew pushed their win streak to 7. The streak was broken, though, in a hard to swallow 25-6 home loss to homestate rival Rutgers Sunday night. Rider is number 3 in the Garden State again this year, but could end up Top 25 come nationals with a strong finish. The muscle in the middle for the Broncs all year has been 157LB Jesse Dellavecchia. Dellavecchias split matches with fellow Top 10 ranked, state rival Quincy Monday of Princeton, and he led 3 Broncs to the podium and a team 8th place finish at the Southern Scuffle. Dean Sherry at 174 and preseason MAC #1 197LB Ethan Laird will hit the post season in the 20-25 win range. A powerful group of 8 seniors, both starters and high quality backups, have led the Broncs charge through this so far special season. To add “very” to this descriptive the Broncs will need at least 1 more dual meet “w” AND a team podium spot at the 15 squad strong, 2 day long MAC tournament. They’re capable of both. Figuring the number of national qualifiers is a head scratcher right now, but Dellavecchia and Laird seem like locks. Sherry, senior big man Ryan Cloud, and 141LB Peter Lipari, a mid-season transfer from Rutgers, could also earn their way to Minneapolis by great showings at the MAC tourney. Rider is hopeful for both Lipari and Dellavecchia being awarded 1 more season to compete after this campaign closes. As to Central Michigan, the Chippewas handed Rider a beat down conference loss in Lawrenceville way back in December to the tune of 28-10. Since then the Chips have had a true roller coaster of a season. 3 STRONG tournament showings were highlighted by a 6th place finish at the Midlands, WAY up from 11th last year. 4 Chips got up on the podium highlighted by Hvt. Matt Stencels 2nd place finish. Not to brag but this columns author has been big on the CMU big man since oh, his freshman season. He will be, barring catastrophe, a 3X All American and will finish Top 5 all time for CMU in wins, pins, and everything else statistically relevant. CMU came out hot to start the seasons 2nd half but not hot enough to cook the then unbeaten Top 5 ranked Hokies. #DaDirtyBirdz from Blacksburg landed spurs-first in Mt. Pleasant and scratched out a 4 point ‘w” over CMU. It became bad with a 7 point conference road loss to NIU and got worse when Mizzou came to town and left with a 12 point triumph over the Chips. Coach Borelli then brought his squad out of a mid season, well, not slump, but maybe a case of the hiccups. Its 5 straight wins for CMU now heading into the end of the season match against Michigan State. That one is for The Mitten States D1 wrestling silver medal. Kent State became the 7th conference victim of the Chips as CMU stopped the Golden Flashes 27-12. As always this year the Chippewas bookenders, 125LB Drew Hildebrandt and Stencel opened and closed the Chips efforts with wins. Hildebrandt is 27-3, Stencel just behind at 25-4. 141LB Dresden Simons season has really highlighted the MACs overall conference strength. Simon recently dealt Evan Cheek of Cleveland State his first dual loss of the season. One of Cheeks 30 wins this year was over Ohios National qualifier Shakur Laney, who beat Simon 8-7 in OT less than 2 weeks ago. And theres Riders Lipari. And did someone mention AA Grant Leeth of Missouri, also battling to stay in the 141LB MAC race? WHOA. One more Chippewas note: a lone senior starter this season, 157LB National qualifier Logan Parks, 17-10, 6-3 in conference. With 2018-19 165LB starter Bret Fedewa hopefully returning from injury, the Chips, in the MAC, are in it to at least place in it.

SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON….

The pecking order for the regular season SoCon title is settling into place and will likely be settled Thursday the 13th. Thats the meeting date for defending Tournament Champ Campbell and 2019 regular season tri-champ Appalachian State. The Camels and the Mountaineers have taken turns the past 2 weekends all but eliminating fellow regular season tri champ UTC from title consideration. App State went into Chattanooga and left with a 15 point win. Then Campbell invited the Mocs over and proved to be rude hosts as they also handed UTC a 15 point defeat. The winner of this weeks Buies Creek donnybrook is easily the odds on favorite to take the regular season crown. And folks, just because the Camels won this matchup in a 19-17 thriller last year on the road, don’t count App State out. Yousefs(a) crew has taken 4 out of 5 from Campbell when the Mountaineers have visited the Camels and lead the rivalry 9-2. In depth late season looks at both squads came out in last weeks column, and this match will be the feature tilt of this season for the conference. For UTC, this year the third leg on the SoCon stool, it’s been a season of “so close yet so far.” The Mocs have been right there without making that step to otherwhere just a few too many times to call this a fully successful season…yet. Swing a couple one and 2 point losses the Mocs way and they have wins over Army and Illinois and a shot at a winning dual meet season. A proper 3rd act for “The Kyle Ruschell Initiative, Season 2” would consist of wins against the Citadel and Indiana and a reversal of fortune versus some beatable App St and Campbell opponents at the SoCon Tournament. UTC has battled all season long and their conference losses say more about those foes steady build up than any flaw on the Mocs part. The team closest to the SoCons big 3 may very well be VMI this year. The Keydets are in position to have a winning conference record and possess a legitimate All American candidate in 174LB “Nasty” Neal Richards. They had a sparkling 3rd place showing at the All Academy Championships. Their end of season roster retention is up from 17 last year to 22 this time around and they have earned multiple wins over non-conference foes. The Keydets honor their seniors this week, and, with 5 duals left, can nearly double their win total from a season ago. Not quite so for the Citadel, Gardner-Webb, and Davidson. These schools all carry the weighty burdens of highly selective enrollment, smaller rosters, stringent academic standards, and in the case of G-W and Davidson, brutally hard in state recruiting wars. YOU try bringing in your home states best going up against the “come with us” pitches from NC State, UNC, Campbell, and App State. For Gardner-Webb, 2020s highlight so far came in Februarys 2nd weekend as the Runnin’ Bulldogs tripled their season win total in 2 days. The Dogs made it “Blue on Blue, Heartache on Heartache”(b) as they dumped the Duke Blue Devils and peeled off the Presbyterian Blue Hose. As has been the case all season senior Roderick Davis led the way. Davis bumped up to 285 to seal the win vs. Presbyterian and also clinched the Duke match with a 1 point win at his regular wt. class, 197. To be fair G-W picked up 4 forfeit wins in the 2 duals, but, hey, they came to wrestle, right? 4 matches left on the schedule, they will be favored in just 1. Win that and thats one more “w” than last year, and only 2 seniors, Davis and Jacob Reames, leave the 26 man roster after 2020. The Citadel has a legitimate shot at a .500 season, no small feat for the small military school from Charleston, South Carolina. They’ve also enjoyed fine individual seasons from senior 285LB Mike McAleavey and soph. 165LB Dazjon “Cheese” Casto. Casto has a good shot at a 25 win campaign and a chance for a SoCon finals berth. He missed the All Academy Championships and an opportunity to square off against nationally ranked Randy Meneweather of Air Force, but did go 4-1 at the Edinboro Open. A dozen Citadel underclassmen have logged significant mat time this year, helping to offset the difficult senior seasons of Doug Gudenburr and Martin Duane. MIA all year, tough Rian Burris, a 25 match winner last year, still rostered but not wrestling in what would have been his final season. McAleavey, Burris, Duane and Gudenburr all say good-bye, and theres no headlined story trumpeting the incoming class. So its finish strong, Citadel, and maybe sneak somebody into the Nationals. IF its Casto, and if he can turn in an effort anywhere near what he did at the CKLV, it just might inspire some tough Midwest grapplers to take a long look from a cold place at the warm, deep South of lovely(c) Charleston. Meanwhile, 1 state north, the Davidson Wildcats are showing signs of life under the tutelage of Coaches Andy Lausier, Joey Dance, and Chad Walsh. They stand 1 win away from equaling their victory totals from the last 2 seasons. They are still paper-thin on experience, fielding 3 seniors and a junior, and roster depth. Thats 3 seniors on an 18 man squad. YO. Since its Davidson, you know those papers are littered with high grades and no red marks. Since its Davidson, you know it won’t be pretty when da big boyz show up on the schedule. Example(s): App State, loss, 41-3; UTC, loss, 47-0; Pitt (Pitt? Really, Davidson, PITT? What were you thinking? Probably not 51-(-)1. Which happened). Anywhoo, the drive for excellence from the Wildcats wrestlers cannot be doubted, and the skill sets and work ethic their coaching staff possess are unquestioned. What remains unanswered as year 3 of the Lausier era heads towards 1 more potential win (Gardner-Webb, Feb 16th) and a definite beat down (Campbell, Feb. 23rd, it was 42-(-)1 last season) is this. Can anyone bring in enough high academic standards athletes to a “selective, prestigious liberal art college” where applicants GPAs AVERAGE 3.9 and the student body size is less than half of a large TX high school? The jury is out on that one. Fortunately, given the strength of the pre law program there, good chance some of those judges are wearing Wildcats colors under their robes. What they are probably not wearing is the colorful plaid of the SoCons, and Americas, newest D1 wrestling team, the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Frankly, not many at all are wearing those colors, as there are just 15 athletes each on the mens and womens roster. That both squads have been competitive in their first ever seasons is amazing in and of itself. That the Presbyterian women are 6-6 is nothing short of miraculous. Womens wrestling at the collegiate level is growing rapidly in a variety of directions and one of the results is that there will be several national champions, both team and indivduals, crowned this season at various sites and times. The Blue Hose women spent last weekend in Marietta, Georgia, competing at the WCWA Nationals. 116LB Jaslynn Gallegos and 143LB Morgan Norris both grabbed Gold there. 2 National champs in year 1, Coach Dany Deanda and Director of Wrestling Mark Cody? What can be said except Sacre’ Bleu Hose!(d) The mens team has a win under their stylish stockings as well, a 44-0 shutout of Truett McConnell in a very cleverly scheduled home opener. Obviously, theres nowhere to go but up for these two young squads, and with Cody and the Coaches Deanda, heights will be reached.

RANDOM RAMBLINGS FROM COAST TO COAST……

Big Lous back, and we dont mean the famous table sized pizza producing joint here in SA. 184LB Lou DePrez returned with a vengeance for Binghamton with a decision, a major decision, a forfeit win and a tech fall after an absence. Now if the Bearcats can get some of their last year late season mojo back, they may yet make something of this campaign. Theyll probably have to find somebody to fill 165 and 174, though.

Disturbing tidbit from the one gifted with gab and great hair as Ben “Funky” Askren noted verbal gloom from UNI Coach Doug Schwab about the hopes for a return for the “Hog”, 2018 197LB AA Jacob Holschlag. If the Hog is no go, there goes UNIs top 10 finish.

The 30 win club picked up some new members, as American University 149LB Kihzan Clarke and the aforementioned CSU Viking Evan Cheek broke the barrier for the season. As to the career 100 wins group, some have joined since last writing and some were certainly missed. Like National champ and 3X finalist Mark Hall (who?) of Penn State, Tanner Hall of Arizona State, Patricio Lugo of Iowa (Edinboro), Max Thomsen of Northern Iowa, and Colston DiBlasi of George Mason (IA ST).

See You next week!

Ted Carreras

(a) Yousef, the giant, loveable, but fierce bearded, musket-wielding mascot of App State. Don’t run, unless you’re faster than 1200 ft/s…..

(b) THE classic Bobby Vinton “love lost” song from 1963. Your parents weren’t old enough to know they even wanted to make you yet. We hope.

(c) The Scribe has no personal knowledge of this city and is simply relying on 350 years of generally positive reviews.

(d) From the French. For surprise, not exasperation or dismay.

3rd Season, Column 23; Iowants it ALL; SoCon News; and Random ramblings from Coast to Coast

Darth Vader has returned from the dead, folks and he’s rocking the Black and Gold. The Iowa Hawkeyes have awakened from a decade long slumber and are taking dead aim and no prisoners this season at what could become their 24th National Championship. The 2019-2020 Hawkeyes may yet stumble on their way to the top of the team podium in Minneapolis in March, but missteps by this squad are unlikely. Every single starter is ranked in the Top 10. They shut out not 1, not 2, but 3 teams this year and nearly broke the 200 point barrier in winning the Midlands tournament mid-season. And then there was that small matter of the match against Penn State the last day of January. Tom and Terry Brands team made it a night to remember for their extended family as the #1 Hawkeyes upended the 4x defending National champion Nittany Lions 19-17 in front of a crowd of nearly 15,000. Heroes and heartbreak were front and center for the home standing Hawkeyes as Iowa won 6 matches to Penn States 4 while losing 133LB chainsaw Austin Desanto. The #2 ranked Hawkeye went down twice in the 1st period and injury defaulted to Roman Bravo-Young, whom Desanto was unbeaten against in college competition. Analysis in every media format is everywhere about this match, from here the opinion is the match was much ado about….not that much. AMAZING wrestling that changed nothing. Iowa is still #1, Penn State is still #2, and they’re way in front of everyone else this year. If they wrestled 10X it would be a 5-5 or 6-4 split. Hmmm, just like this match. So, fans, just love it for the love of it. And hope that we all get 2 more IA-PSU individual matchups in as many weight classes as possible. Any competition between guys from these teams in any round of the BIG 10 or NCAA Tournament will be (a) the cats meow (b) gee whillikers (c) cool, man (d) bomb-diggity (e) crunk (f) da shizzl. Select one or all. Iowa, or rather a small group of very serious alumni/fans, have decided all those descriptives and more should apply to the Hawkeyes wrestling digs. So some 5 out of a projected 17-20 MILLION dollars have already been raised to raise up a stand alone wrestling facility for the Hawks. Folks, talking about 35,000 square feet of “moving forward” for the Coaches Brands, staff and those repping the black and gold. Full details to be found in Chad Leistikows excellent audio/visual/print piece. Master Chad’s byline can be found both at the Iowa City Press Citizen and Hawk Central, always worth catching. Thank you, Chad.

SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON…..

APPALACHIAN STATE-MOUNTAINEERS MAKING 2020 ANOTHER “KNOW PEAKS, NO VALLEYS” SEASON

In the beautiful little mountain town of Boone, North Carolina, Appalachian State is having yet another fine campaign. 4x4rs are probably as popular in Boone as they are in Texas, and the ‘Eers have either won the SoCon regular season title outright or shared it the last 4 years. They’ve also sent multiple wrestlers to the NCAAs 4 years running. BHH Head Coach JohnMark Bentley earned his 100th dual meet win this season. Hes won Conference Coach of the Year 4 times during his 10 year run. This Mountaineers team, a balanced squad with 4 seniors and 5 juniors, may be his best yet. It’s a safe bet multiple Mountaineers will be heading to Minneapolis. Their biggest barrier, though, wont be current conference kingpin Campbell or fellow SoCon force UTC. It’s going to be the lingering suspicion that the SoCon, as the only D1 conference with no consistent national power team/recognition, just doesn’t do enough to earn multiple at large bids. Sure, all 10 wt. class champs will be NCAA bound, that’s guaranteed. At this time and from this vantage point, the SoCon deserves an extra spot(s) at 125, 133, 149, 165, 174, 184, and 197. A weight class or 2 just might warrant 3 allocations. Don’t hold your breath on that one, though. Back to App State, because, well, here are some more Mountaineers notes you should know…their Senior leaders, 157LB Matt Zovitovksi and 285LB Cary Miller, are shooting for 100 win careers. Zovitovski (Homestates Homeboy SHOUT OUT, Paramus NJ, St. Joseph Regional), the 157LB rep in this columns All Overlooked and Underrated team, is looking to earn his 3rd NCAA trip. Miller and 133LB Codi Rusell (younger sibling of former Edinboro/Minnesota star Sean) are aiming at their 2nd trips. 141LB Bradley Irwin, the Mountaineers 3rd senior starter, is making the most of his last go round, stepping up for departed 3 starter Irvin Enriquez. As a team App. St. showed up and showed out at all 7, count ’em, 7 Tournaments/Opens/Invitationals they hit. 8 in the Top 3 at the WolfPack Open. 3rd in team points at the Keystone Classic. 3 semi-finalists and 6 podium spots (double last years haul) at the Southern Scuffle. After dropping a down to the last match dual meet to Top 10 ranked North Carolina and holding down unbeaten NC State in a close 12 point loss, the Mountaineers have run off 6 straight wins. Part 1 of the SoCon Showdown, regular season style, on the road against UTC, went the Mountaineers way big time to the tune of 27-12. It was App States 5th straight win over their bitter and highly respected rival and their biggest margin of victory over Chattanooga in nearly 2 decades. There were multiple rematches from late Januarys Appalachian Open action and all went the Mountaineers way. So what to make of these ‘Eers down the home stretch of the 2020 season? The roster is well structured, 31 strong, and young, with 16 freshmen or rs freshmen. Half the roster are North Carolinians but BHH HC Bentley and staff have mined wrestling gold from New Jersey to Alaska in building their squad. Half the team was ranked in the 1st Coaches poll that dropped the end of January, and 174LB Thomas Flitz will enter the next one if he continues his current pace. He’s 13-2 since the calendar turned over and his 25 wins are tied for 2nd best on a team with 7 starters at 20 or more victories. There’s remarkable retention with Coach Bentley and crews company to laud also, as only 2 wrestlers are missing from the starting roster through Februarys version. 3 duals left including a de facto regular season title decider vs. Campbell on the Camels home sand up on Buies Creek(1). Then a home season ending match with VMI(1), and the Mountaineers will host the SoCon Tournament for the 2nd straight year. Can Yousef and crew take the tournament title for the 3rd time in 5 years? Oh yes they can. Will they? Well, there’s somebody named Gaylord(2) who might put a Dromedarian sized dent in those plans…

CAMPBELL-CAMELS PUTTING THEIR NOSE UNDER THE POWER 5 TENT

The defending SoCon Tournament champs have been laying waste to their conference foes this season, outscoring 3 SoCon rivals 140-8. Campbells 2 losses, to top 15 ranked Pitt and Top 5 ranked Arizona State (the latter by just 4 points) are well in the rear view mirror. The Camels will be favored the rest of the regular season against UTC, App State, VMI and Davidson. They’ve looked especially sharp in tournaments as well. Campbell had 3 placewinners at the Midlands and took two team 2nd place trophies, one from the Navy Classic and one from the Reno Tournament of Champions. The Camels have had lineup changes dictated by injury, international needs, and just plain competition/attrition. No es problema. 197LB Austin McNeil, a redshirt senior starter to begin the season, is out. In steps Chris Kober, last year’s 184LB SoCon champ. Multi year Hvt. starter Jere Heino stepped out of Campbells lineup and into his Finnish National Team singlet again this year. Heinos been 1st or 2nd in the conference every season since his sophomore campaign. Expect more of the same, with a strong chance at a podium spot come March in Minneapolis. 149LB Mason Smith, a transfer from Arizona State who began his career at Central Michigan, last saw the mat at the Midlands. He went 2-2 there and isn’t currently listed on the roster. Pull that redshirt off, young Jason Kraisser, brother of junior Austin, sibling of Camels All American Nathan, yet another scion of the Kraisser wrestling clan. No beat missed. Campbell has been searching for separation from their SoCon brethren and they’ve stopped sending starters to the Scuffle. They have upgraded their dual schedule as well. Returns are positive, with 2 top 14 finishes and 6 Midlands placers the last 2 years and a 14-3 duals mark from Nov. 2018 till now. “Almost BHH(3)” Head Coach Cary Kolat is one of the young Turks of coaching. Hes uber credentialed, a media savvy podcast star, and a relentless leader by example. 6 Camels went to the Nationals last year and as many as 8 could make that mark this season. Campbells excellent efforts outside of conference competition do nothing but help the SoCons bid for, well, more bids beyond those guaranteed to the 10 wt. class champs. As to roster size and makeup, the Camels follow the “more is more” mantra. Bring em in by the truck load, shake em up and see what develops. 50 grapplers hit the start of the season in the Orange and Black, and they’re a lean, mean 38 at last count, 28 of those Freshmen and Sophomores. Each of their last 2 recruiting classes eclipsed, in number, the current 5 year roster at a current conference rival. Strength in numbers indeed, with more states than not plus 2 countries represented on this years Camels opening roster. 6 Campbell wrestlers made the first set of coaches rankings, 3 in the Top 10. 4 duals in 2 weeks left to contest for Kolat and Co. Its advantage Camels as Campbell hosts both UTC, the only team to beat them last year, and App State before finishing with VMI and Davidson on the road. Campbell finished last year as SoCon Tournament champs with 8 on the conference podium and as noted, 6, count em, 6 Camels at the Nationals. They are odds on favorites to repeat that first listed triumph and increase at least one of the other 2. Camel All Americans? It can happen, and it just might happen more than once this time around.

RANDOM RAMBLINGS……

Wonderful to see Army West Point honor their late teammate C.J. Morgan by moving their dual against Lehigh to Morgans high school gym in West Orange, NJ. It was Senior Night for the Black Knights and would have been Morgans last home match. Morgan died in a tragic, and disturbing, off season vehicle accident (3rd Season, Column 6) with still many more questions than answers, at least to the general public. Unquestioned was his support, respect and love for his teammates, and they for him. GO ARMY. None better to guard our gates, all of them.

What happens when you lose 20% of your starting lineup, 33% of your National qualifiers, and 39% of your wins from last season? When you were expecting more this season? You get Utah Valleys season. OUCH. Gone, UVUs 1st Big 12 champ, 165LB Demetrius Romero, 28-5 and a Round of 12 wrestler at last years NCAAs. Gone, 149LB Matt Findlay, 17-4, a fellow R12 participant last season. Factor in the missed time by 2018 R12 qualifier and Olympic Greco Roman hopeful Taylor Lamont, and youve got a Green and Gold mess out Orem, Utah, way. To the tune of a 1-9 record, and that is no hit single, folks. There are 4 duals left for the Wolverines to sharpen their claws before the Big 12 Tournament, but from here only the tilt with Northern Colorado looks winnable. Romero, Findlay and Lamont will all attempt a comeback for their senior or 6th year season in 2020-2021. They, along with current Top 10 ranked Hvt, sophomore Tate Orndorff, will give #GangGreen and their great fan base (1100 plus for a dual meet in the midst of a dismal season in mid-winter?) something to look forward to.

Talk about burning the ships..it was an AMAZING All Academy Championships the last weekend of last month. For the first time ever The Air Force Academy had all(4) its military academy brethren over for a days worth of bonding. If you can call it that. In what will probably go down as the tournament tickdown of the 2020 season the Naval Academy took the All Academy title…by 1 point over the host Air Force Falcons, 117.5 to 116.5. YO, Yeoman. Navy, who ended up with 5 champs, trailed AFA, with 3 titlists already, by 6.5 points heading into the last two finals. Stud Navy Freshman Jacob Kocer did the thing, that thing being a 16-0 tech fall win over VMIs tough Zach Brown, at 197. And THAT set up a winner take all big man battle between seasoned, nationally ranked AFA 285LB Kayne Hutchison and freshman Navy big boy John Birchmeier. Score it 10-4 for the Navy young’un as The Midshipmen had 2 freshman All Academy champs for the first time ever. Do NOT overlook Navys 13 bonus point wins out of 25 victories. OR their 4-0 record in championship bouts versus Air Force opponents. Kocer, Navys 197LB star in the making, went extra points earning mode in all 3 of his wins and was named MOW, most outstanding wrestler. That that award did not go to 174LB champion Neal Richards of VMI is, really, much more about Richards extended senior season blahs than anything else. The Scribe and everybody else who knows anything about college wrestling would have put cashseriousmoney down on Richards rolling through most every event this year rarely beaten and less challenged. Hasn’t happened that way, and its a mark of the uber high regard Richards is held in that his 30-6 season so far seems vaguely disappointing. Richards 4-3 win over Navys Spencer Carey was his 2nd straight title triumph over the Midshipman, as they met in last years finals. the Keydets continue to grow the Jim Gibson way, as the 2nd year coach helped move them from 5th to third in the team totals with 6 medal winners. Coast Guard had a great showing, just a half point back of VMI and well in front of the Citadel. Merchant Marine and Norwich finished 6th and 7th, respectively, as our Nations finest honed their physical skills. Yes, in this modern, techno deadly world, threats can come from anywhere, at anytime, by any means both known and unknown. War is the state of humanity. Always has been, always will be. These young men will help us win them. By any means necessary, including hand to hand.

See you next week!

Ted Carreras

(1) outstanding individual matchups across the board in the App St/Campbell clash, highlighted by the hvts, App States Cary Miller and Campbells Jere Heino, #straightouttaHelsinki,Finland. The Mountaineers 174LB Thomas Flitz will find his hands and his face full when he faces VMIS defending conference and 2X All Academy titlist “Nasty” Neal Richards.

(2) Internet sources credit the name of Campbells Camel mascot as honoring famous alum Gaylord Perry. That this homage owes somewhat to lubrication generally associated with both is probably just hearsay.

3. As you know by now, BHH stands for Bald Headed Hero, a near necessity in coaching cache these days. There IS hair on Coach Ks head. But NOT much.

4. Oh Army West Point, where art though? I see, doing the “we see em enough already thing” that Campbells doing to the Southern Scuffle. The Camels scheduling will help the whole SoCon in the long run. So theres that. Armys helping the Academies? Hmm.