Post Season 5, Column 53: Pioneers fast track their challenges

Sacred Heart comes hot out of the box with next year’s schedule.

John Clark at Sacred Heart has a different perspective when it comes to building a schedule. So many programs struggle to produce a quality schedule, or a schedule at all. Sacred Heart did both by Mid-April. How, Coach? “I look forward to doing our schedule every year and make it as challenging as possible. We’re located in a very good spot and close to a lot of teams we compete against.” Some would point to lining up multiple major tournaments and a large (15) number of duals possibly wearing out the squad prior to the post-season. Rebuttal? “We want our team ready for the end of the year and we also want to challenge them during the year. This years (2022-23) schedule is a great balance of both.” Coach Clark did take the time to point out the Pioneers strength in numbers as something they’re proud to have built. “We have had the biggest team in the country the past two years and will continue to have the biggest team next year. Our roster should be over 70 student athletes and we look forward to see what they can accomplish!” Exclamation point the Coachs. Pretty much ALL the time. Thank you, Coach Clark.

Sacred Heart 2022-23 Schedule

Friday 10/28 Wrestle-Offs

Sat 11/5 @ Lehigh

Sat 11/12 @Journeymen (LIU, Army)

Sun 11/13 @Journeymen Classic

Fri 11/18 Iowa @ Albany

Sun 11/20 @ Keystone Classic

Fri-Sat 12/2-3 @ CKLV

Tue. 12/20 The Citadel

Wed 12/21 American University

Sat 1/7 @ David Lehman Open

Sat 1/14 Duke @ Providence, RI

Sun 1/15 VMI

Sat 1/21 Bucknell

Sat 1/28 Harvard (?)

Sun 1/29 @Franklin & Marshall

Sun 2/5 Bloomsburg

Sat 2/11 Hofstra

Sat 2/18 LIU

Sun 2/19 Brown

Sat-Sun 3/3-4 @ EIWA Tournament

Thu-Sat 3/16-18 @ NCAAs

Challenging from beginning to end. Sacred Heart could be on target for either a 10 or a five win season, and a dozen placewinners between the five tournaments they’ll compete in. Getting anyone on the podium would be a reach but after a no qualifier 2022 a Pioneer or two just might make that trip from Fairfield to Tulsa come next March.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

Post Season 5, Column 52: Moore good news at CSU

CSU gets a proper post season recap and look-ahead.

Josh Moores Cleveland State Vikings had a special and streaky season effort in 2022. At one point they lost five5 duals in a row after winning four straight. They rocked out at their own CSU Open with a champ and seven placewinners. They improved round by round at the MAC championships, finishing mid pack. 3 Vikings went to the NCAAs and they stretched their presence out through two days and three rounds of competition. In January they instituted a new and exciting addition to the support plan for the team. In short, they had a YEAR, folks, and Coach Moore was kind enough to share his thought on it and what’s next on and off the mat.

What part of CSUs season produced the most progress? What parts showed the most opportunity for improvement?

“I would say that starting the season with a hard-fought win over Binghamton and battling Rutgers tough was a good confidence booster for the team. During the season conference wins over Clarion, Edinboro, Rider and George Mason showed our guys that we could win the MAC East dual title. Unfortunately a few injuries prevented us from accomplishing that major goal. We also finished the year on a positive note with six MAC placewinners and a MAC Champ and three automatic qualifiers. We still had a fairly young team, so they will continue to grow and learn. We will work on adding depth to all weight classes with our recruiting and through the transfer portal.”

Hvt. star John Kelbly and 165 lb stalwart Riley Smucker were your two athletes honored on senior night. Kelbly was listed as a rs junior and Smucker as a rs sophomore. What have they meant to the program and what are their plans?

“Both John and Riley have been a huge part of this program during their time at CSU. We could always count on both of them to give a great effort every time they stepped on the mat. Both improved year after year and became leaders in the practice room. Kelbly was part of the ROTC and will enlist full time this summer while Smucker will attend Chiropractic school in the fall.” [Apparently at Life University where Riley may very well explore the possibility of joining Coach Omi Acosta’s national powerhouse Runnin Eagles team].

How active are you in the Portal and can you share any new names or weight classes the fans can be excited about?

“Like any coach I look in the portal a few times a week. We may pick up a few transfers to add to our already strong incoming recruiting class and roster.” Said roster boasts 7 returning All-Conference Academic stars in addition to a 5 man recruiting class featuring three Ohioans and star wrestlers from both Missouri and South Carolina. These Vikings raid FAR, folks.

CSU has a unique approach to their support system with the Weight Class Champions program. How did it come about, what do you see it doing for the team, and where do you see it going?

“It was designed to bolster support for the program by additional (assistance) in a few areas. The two main ones are student-athlete scholarships and Enhanced Travel and Competition Budget. With CSU being a mid-major university fundraising is extremely important to the current and future success of our wrestling program. We continue to cultivate alumni and donor involvement through the program by highlighting our student-athletes and honoring our many loyal supporters!”

There’s all kinds of noise about N.I.L. in wrestling. What’s your take on it?

“NIL is interesting. It’s going to be very lucrative for some, and a mess to track. This is just the start of many changes that could be on the way.”

Where do you send visitors to in Cleveland for good food/coffee? Feel free to share your secret spots, please!

“Cleveland, Ohio is a foodie hotspot. So many great places. On East 4th you have the Butcher and the Brewer, (brewpub) by Playhouse Square you have Cibreo (Italian) or the Republic. (American and Contemporary). Slymans (Deli) is also a must-have! If you’re by campus, Ah Roma is a popular spot for a coffee and a bagel or a sandwich, especially the Feisty Bagel.”

Last words, your words…why be a Cleveland State Viking?

“Cleveland State is such a unique place that is starting to get the attention it deserves. Our athletic department has some amazing coaches that truly care about the success and well-being of our student-athletes! We are proud to be part of this university and community and will continue to do great things.”

THANK YOU, Coach Moore. A final late CSU note: an advertisement for a new Assistant Coach for the Vikings went out as this column was being prepared. The direct link is on their Twitter page.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

Season 5, Column 51: Summaries, Sidetrips, and Spring Readings

A trio of talented coaches share some post season thoughts, a South Bexar county sweet spot, and a pair of titles on two vastly different stories in the American dream.

VMIs Jim Gibson, John Clark of Sacred Heart, and Ned Shuck of Bellarmine share their thoughts post season.

Where was the progress most noticeable for your squad this year?

Gibson, VMI: “The ability of a group of our young starters to be able to turn around some losses they had early in the year was impressive to me. By the post season a few of them were able to close the gap or pick up a win over opponents that defeated them in November or December.”

Clark, Sacred Heart: “Even though we didn’t have the best dual meet record this year, we challenged ourselves with a very tough schedule and even wrestled Penn State in a dual. We also went to (the Cliff Keen Las Vegas), Keystone Classic and the Journeymen Classic to name a few tough tournaments.”

Shuck, Bellarmine: “One thing I’m really proud of this team for is their effort and fight. The most noticeable progress for our squad was in their positional knowledge and their ability to execute many of the things we spent time and effort on. It didn’t always lead to points and wins but it was cool to see them increase their wrestling performance.”

What’s been the impact of your departing wrestlers and what is their legacy?

Clark: “Our departing wrestlers are a product of my first recruiting class. They have done a great job and will be missed. I appreciate their leadership and it has been great to see them develop in the last couple of years to close out their careers.”

Shuck: “We had a good group of seniors that left a legacy of resilience. Those guys saw the transition from N.A.I.A. to Division II to Division I and chose to stay at Bellarmine. (They stayed) because of the relationships they built here with the team and (the Bellarmine family) on campus and the academic (qualities) that Bellarmine provided for their careers. Super proud of all my seniors and their growth this year and over their time at Bellarmine. The guys that stuck it out with me have been huge encouragers for our younger guys and they will be our biggest fans and supporters in the future.”

Gibson: “With only two graduating seniors and neither of them being in our starting lineup their impact took place in helping our younger guys adjust to the strict military lifestyle here at VMI.”

Are you active in the Portal as well as recruiting high school students and can you fire up the fans with a name or weight class to be newly excited about?

Shuck: “I’m not super active in the Portal given the transition period but will look for the right fits moving forward for sure. I’m not going to share names but we are excited about the guys that are coming in our first recruiting class. We have a good mix across the weight classes and currently have about 10 commits.”

Gibson: “With the transfer policies here at VMI we are not as active in the Portal as we are on the high school recruiting scene. We have some standouts coming in at the light and middle weights. One (is a) two time placer in the Pennsylvania big school division, and another from Virginia who placed at the Southeast Open (College) as a high school senior.”

Clark: “The transfer Portal is a great place to find some great talent. Each year we bring in multiple transfers and they’re always a great addition to our team. They know what to expect from college and bring a level of experience that a recruit out of high school doesn’t have yet.”

THANK YOU, gentlemen, and continued success all round.

Down by a lazy river

Off Texas State Highway 16 (Bandera Road through San Antonio) in the far South-Central reaches of Bexar County is a tiny gem called The Medina River Natural Area. A small 500 acre (this IS TX, remember) well maintained riverine oasis in the general semi-dryness of South TX, The MRNA has an unassuming entrance. Down this slender paved road, though, you’ll find a striking variety of trees, plants and wildlife all nurtured by the meandering curves of the 120 mile long Medina River. Modest in width and depth the Medina finds her source in the plateaus of the TX Hill Country and empties into the San Antonio river. Both show near drainage ditch status at times but are to be respected for the sudden changes in their ebb and flow and absolutely avoided during the infamous flash flood producing S. Central TX downpours. There’s an abundance of foot and bike trails ranging from wheelchair accessible to Level 4 dirt bike challenging. A beautiful and spacious pavilion is available for rental. A group camping area is also available and leashed pets are welcome with the understanding that this IS a WILD S TX area. Like you and your pets, the abundant shade and water draws and will harbor snakes, and wild hogs a bit more serious than the John Travolta variety may be your neighbor for a dawn or dusk or overnight stay. That said the park is well worth a day or overnight visit. A half hours drive from South San Antonio, the Medina River Natural Area, 15890 TX-16, should be added to your S.TX. to do list.

Two titles well worth your time

The brilliance of Dr. Isabel Wilkerson burns through The Warmth of Other Suns, her epic Pulitzer Prize winning narrative history of the great African American migration from the early 1900s through the 1960s. Dr. Wilkerson, the first Female African American Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, has enjoyed a stellar multi-decade career at the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the NY Times where she became “The Gray Ladys” (1) Chicago Bureau Chief. A Howard graduate, she has taught at Emory, Princeton, Northwestern and Boston University and her writing superiority is near impossible to turn away from once engaged with. In The Warmth of Other Suns Dr. Wilkerson unfolds truths, destroys false narratives, and fully displays every aspect of humanity AND inhumanity in a six decade long historic narrative wrapped in the lives of three main groups of protagonists. Though they are all as different as night to day the enormous similarities in their experiences provides the power of this book. The Scribe is a decade late in discovering the excellence of The Warmth of Other Suns. Don’t you be.

If you have ever stood on the shores of Lake Superior, entered her waters, or chanced her might odds are good you’re aware of her most famous modern story. Whatever the timeframe in your life the date of November 10, 1975 holds, the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitgerald is likely to touch some cord of awareness and or remembrance. “Mighty Fitz” is a slender and well researched recounting of this most famous of modern American ship disasters. Shipwreck researcher and biographer Michael Schumaker examines the tragedy from every possible angle, even including direct and indirect information from surviving family members burned by 30 years (as of the books printing) of exploitation of their doomed family members fate. Schumaker shies away from NO aspect of the event and his telling of the Fitzgeralds birth, life and death on the mighty inland sea gives full view of a culture very much different than most of America. Vastly more hazardous, more compelling and more free. If you know little of the lives and times of the ships of Americas great inland waters and the men who share their fate Mighty Fitz will enlighten you as only a truthful tale told well can.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) The original nickname of the Times

Season 5,Column 50: SoCon, ACC let some opportunities slip by

With a combined 58 seats at the Big table the ACC and the SoCon turned a few too many chairs up and walked away from Detroit, despite some very high achievements, with a would have, could have, should have showing at the NCAA Championships.

Even occasional readers of this column know of its unabashed cheerleader stance regarding Southern wrestling in general and the SoCon and ACC conferences in particular. With a record number of automatic qualifiers and some at large bids for good measure it looked promising for the SoCon and the ACC as their athletes prepared for the championships. Then the brackets came out and prospects for a massive All American total and a bucket full of deep tournament runs suddenly looked a whole lot shakier. Sadly, the latter realization played out more than early hopes. The SoCon had just one All American dream realized as Appalachian States Johnathan Millner decisively snagged his 2nd AA honor. Easily one of the most telling, and inspiring, post competition series of comments came when Millner was asked if his gaudy 2X AA success made him the face of Mountaineers wrestling. “Appalachian is a brand of itself. It’s just a priviledge to be a part of the program. I represent the “A” [in Appalachian] but the “A” is bigger than myself.” SO. DAMN. INSPIRING. The humble and gracious Millner went on…”I represent my teammates, my coaches, everyone who believed in me, my family….When you come to Appalachian, it’s a family. It’s not just you. It’s not just [to be] a face of a program. That’s not the way we operate in our program. It’s a team effort and everybody plays a part in getting us here.” You HOPE your program has some Jonathan Millners in it. For its part App State had three wrestlers competing in the round of 16 for the first time since 1992. Four time defending SoCon Tournament champ Campbell saw five of its six wrestlers fall in round one, somewhat suprising despite several less than stellar draws. The Camels dropped all three matches against much higher seeded foes, expected, but stellar heavyweight Taye Ghadiali was upset by equally young, talented and athletic Lewis Fernandes of Cornell. Fernandes would come within 1 match of AA status. Ghadiali would take an OT victory over column favorite Zachary Knighton-Ward of Hofstra before falling to Zach Elam of Missouri. #7 seed Josh Heil battled a talented Tiger grappler himself, Josh Edmonds, shutting out the Missouri [1] star in an 8-0 major decision. Unfortunately for Heil he ended up on the wrong end of a stylistic clash with Nebraskas Ridge Lovett. No shame in that, though, as Lovett advanced to the finals. Heils first and only consolations round foe, none other than Army team co-captain P.J. Ogunsanya, himself an AA hopeful before a late season injury relegated him to an at large bid. Ogunsanyas pin with 4 seconds left in the match sewed up Heils career and kiboshed the SoCons best chance at a 2nd AA honor. While Korbin Meink was overmatched twice, both Domenic Zaccone and Shannon Hanna had good shots at victory in their 1st and 2nd matches respectively but couldn’t quite get it done. 2X SoCon 184lb champ Caleb Hopkins was matched with and fell to Illinois Zac Braunagel, pinned Virginia’s Michael Battista, but was shown the door in an unceremonious 10-0 shutout loss to quixotic Nebraska star Taylor Venz. So, Campbell has shown conference Championship level ability is part of their nature now, and expected. The next step is the hardest: a Camel or two climbing the NCAA Championships podium. Regularly. The Scribes beloved UTC Mocs more than made up for a less than stellar regular season with a solid 3rd place finish at the SoCon Tournament and advanced four Mocs grapplers to the NCAAs. From the drop, though, UTC became the poster child for the “when bad seeds happen to good wrestlers” mantra from this year’s brackets. 2X SoCon champ, 3X NCAA qualifier Fabian Gutierrez? Seeded 20th. 2X NCAA qualifier and 2X SoCon finalist, 2021 conference champ Drew Nicholson? Seeded 29th. Worse yet, conference champ and 3X NCAA qualifier Matthew Waddell was unceremoniously dumped into the pigtail round, seeded 33rd and last! Sheesh. Even Brayden Palmers 25-7, conference runner up, 3rd place at the Southern Scuffle Tournament season merely served to relegate him to the 19th seed and a first round matchup with UNI buzzsaw Kyle Biscoglia. Only Gutierrez, the savvy, slick 6th year senior out of Colorado picked up a round one win. It was memorable, though, coming as it did over Iowas young superstar Drake Ayala. That was the first, last, and only hurrah for Coach Kyle Ruschells crew as the Mocs went 0-fer afterwards, albeit against stiff competition. Frankly, it would have required a series of significant upsets for any Moc, even Gutierrez, to mount the podium. Still, 1 win was surely not UTCs game plan, nor was the injury default prior to his consolation match for Nicholson, a team standard bearer. Only Gutierrez is gone next year from this group, and there’s young, hungry wrestlers sprinkled throughout the lineup. The Mocs will want, scratch that, NEED 157lb Lincoln Heck, 165lb Nicholson, and 197lb Logan Andrew back and at 100% for next season. The Mocs have talent, coaching, desire, and support. What they don’t have is great depth. The depth is growing at the Citadel where the Bulldogs sent 2 of their best in some time to Nationals. Heavyweight Mike McAleavey and 157lb Dazjon Casto advanced from a successful SoCon tournament where eight of 10 Bulldogs posted wins. At the NCAAs it got better for Coach Ryan LeBlancs Bulldogs. While McAleavey took two tough losses to finish a stellar career as a 2021 Conference champ, 2X finalist and 2X NCAA qualifier Casto sparked the scene with perhaps round ones biggest upset. The Bulldog senior, nicknamed “Cheese”, took defending 149lb National champ Austin O’Connor of UNC to overtime and to his back for a huge win. Casto was bumped to the backside in a razor thin defeat to 6th ranked Jared Franek of North Dakota State. “The Cheese” was just warming up, though, as Casto earned back to back victories over a pair of tough ACC wrestlers. Those wins propelled Casto to the Bloodround, where a pair of third period takedowns had the Citadel star come up 1 point short of AA status. Oregon States Hunter Willitts took the 7-6 win but Casto took the White and Blue to heights it hasn’t seen in years. A stellar senior class departs the Citadel this year but the recruits are always ready and plentiful. Quality seniors are also on the way out at Gardner-Webb, but Coach Daniel Elliott will certainly smile in knowing some of his very best return. That includes SoCon 165lb champ R.J. Mosley, who will be aiming at his 2nd conference crown and 3rd NCAA trip next season. Mosley, like all but one of the 10 SoCon champs, faced off with a much higher seeded 1st round foe, falling to Izaak Olejnik of Northern Illinois. Mosley took his talented foe to overtime before losing by a rideout point. His consolation match against Nebraskas Bubba Wilson was eminently winnable. It went the Cornhuskers way, though, 3-1. Mosleys season included a 7th place showing at the Scuffle and an 18-6 record prior to NCAAs. He, along with 184lb Jha’Quan Anderson, will help usher in a mixed crew of vets and young talent for the Runnin’ Dogs in 2023. VMI, Davidson, and Presbyterian concluded their competition at the SoCon tournament while Bellarmines ended with the regular season. Summaries of the year from Head Coaches Jim Gibson of VMI, Andy Lausier of Davidson, and Ned Shuck of Bellarmine will be featured next week.

A whole lot was expected from the ACCs 6-pack of 100 proof squads at this years Championships. 40 spots in Detroit. Loads of All Americans returning. Two National champions back and ready to claim crowns at new weights. Multiple national finalists ready for a final run at glory. As it turns out, (2) things just didn’t quite work out for the Atlantic Coast Conference. A heartbreaking Championship Finals rideout loss after OT by Virginia Techs Mekhi Lewis to Carter Starocci of Penn State. Semifinal defeats handed to both of NC States Hidlay brothers by Starocci and fellow Nittany Lion Aaron Brooks, the latter winning in OT. The WolfPacks #2 seed Tariq Wilson came in battling issues and finished on the podium but definitely off form. 157lb Ed Scott, seeded 4th, lost a quarterfinals match to National finalist Quincy Monday of Princeton. Then Scott was victimized by a roll through pin call in the Bloodround and didn’t place. 4X NCAA qualifier and Super senior Thomas Bullard went 1-2 and out. VT AA Korbin Myers and UNCs defending champ Austin O’Connor both finished lower on the podium than before, with O’Connor severely hobbled. Pittsburghs two returning National finalists, 165lb Jake Wentzel and 197lb Nino Bonaccorsi, failed to place. Virginia and Duke ended the season without any All Americans. So yes, it was not the lofty finish for the ACC so many, including the Scribe, would have bet cashmoney on. Now, if you please, stay for the half full part of the narrative. Need to start with the 8th place finish by Virginia Tech, the Hokiest highest spot at seasons end since 2018. 3 All Americans for a staggering 9th year in a row, folks. The Hokies stand only with Penn State, Cornell, and Iowa in that rarified air. The wrestling world and the sports fan world in general is now acutely aware of Bryce “Air” Andonian. The 149lb Hokies junior flipped foes and predictions to finish 3rd. Andonian pulled off a near impossible feat, defeating two All Americans twice each in a three day span to earn his bronze. HOKIE HOKIE HOKIE HI TECH TECH FLYIN HIGH. Three returning All Americans, (3) ever improving talent at almost every weight class, and ready to start recruits like TJ Stewart have the Hokies looking good indeed going forward. Their titular rival and constant conference co-favorite, 4X ACC champ NC State does lose a lot. 5X AA Hayden Hidlay and 4X AA Tariq “the Freak” Wilson have finished their WolfPack wrestling careers. Que Lastima, you say? No, mi amigo, the Pack will be back stronger than ever. 3X AA Trent Hidlay will anchor the back end, along with 197lb Isaac Trumble. SOMEONE of several highly talented heavyweights will finally break through to lock down the last spot in the WolfPack lineup if Tyrie Houghton, 1-2 at this years NCAAs, hasn’t already done so. The terrific trio of Jakob Camacho, Kai Orine, and Ryan Jack will lead from the lightweights, and there’s no shortage of high quality talent, some old, some new, to fill in from 149-174 along with Scott. Get familiar with the names Donald Cates, Luke Ahrberg, Derek Fields, and Alex Faison to name a few. UNC won where expected and sometimes when they weren’t favored during the season and carried that into the NCAAs. Everybody seems to be on the Austin O’Connor bandwagon for his gutsy, injury hampered charge up the backside of the tournament. The Tar Heels defending champ was damaged goods coming in and his heroic run to 11th seed to 8th place and AA status was inspiring to all. It seemed especially helpful to his Tar Heel teammates as UNC finished with 3 AAs for the first time since the glory days of 3X champ TJ Jaworsky and crew in the mid 90s. Coach Coleman Scott’s crew finished 18th and took top honors in an unusual but telling category: the team that, cumulatively, outperformed what was expected of them by seed. 174lb Clay Lautt, seeded 10th, finished 7th, one of 3 ACC stars on the 8 man podium at the weight. 141lb Kizhan Clarke, seeded 15th, finished his college career in high style with a five round run to the finals. The American University transfer and Law School student set a near impossible bar for himself academically and athletically and then cleared both with aplomb. He will be missing from UNCs 2022-23 lineup but O’Connor can return along with 2021 AA Zach Sherman. Will they? In a post championship interview with GOhiocasts Coach Coleman Scott seemed fairly positive. “You can look at this tournament as being an All American as a senior, as being satisfied, or as I’m not satisfied. I can build on that. I can be better. I can put myself up into the finals. I can be in that top echelon. You know, I think we’re going to have a strong squad next year with some older guys finally.” Scott feels Clarke may be the only wrestler they lose from this team. NCAA qualifiers Joe Heilmann and Gavin Kane can definitely return for another run next season. Young stars like Sonny Santiago, Cade Lautt, Clay’s brother, Jace Palmer and Canadian Champion Lachlan McNeil will spread talent throughout the Tar Heel roster. The Tar Heels and Pitt are neck and neck for 3rd place in the ACC currently, leapfrogging each other year to year while working on closing the gap between themselves, the Hokies and the WolfPack. As to Pitt, the Panthers have finished in every place but last or first the past 4 years at the ACCs and hit Detroit with 2 returning AAs who were National finalists. It did not go well for the Panthers established stars as 2021 runners up 165lb Jake Wentzel and 197lb Nino Bonaccorsi, along with hard luck 133lb Micky Phillippi, fell in the Bloodround, failing to place. Still, the Panthers had some bright spots. 141lb Cole Matthews continued his stellar regular season with an impressive run to 5th place. Matthews is definitely back for next year. However, Bonaccorsi, Wentzel, Phillippi, 157lb Elijah Cleary and 184lb Gregg Harvey are all listed as redshirt seniors. With the Covid-19 free year and other ways to access extra seasons it’s up in the air who of the Panthers All Americans and NCAA qualifiers, if any, return for next season. In his 16th season as Virginia Head Coach Steve Garland saw a seesaw regular season with too many close losses. By five to Virginia Tech and two to Northwestern, no shame as the Hokies and Wildcats both finished Top 10 in the Nation with multiple All Americans. By one to UNC and by six to four time SoCon champion Campbell. A limited and winless home record. You get the picture. The Cavaliers chose to chunk the seasons remembrance album and reset post-season. More than half of Virginia’s team placed at the ACCs. Eight Cavaliers qualified for the NCAAs, the second most in school history. The seeds there were not kind to UVA either as only 157lb Jake Keating was matched against a lower seeded foe, 1st round. At the Championships 133lb Brian Courtney pulled back to back shockers upsetting the 8th and 9th seeds after needing an at-large bid to make the field. Four Cavs joined him in action on day two, the best first day showing for UVA since 2015. On Friday, though, Virginia saw their season end a day short of expectations. 157lb Jake Keating went out first, while Courtney, 197lb Jay Aiello and 165lb Justin McCoy all lost in the Bloodround, matching conference rival Pitts level of “so close but so far” frustration. So what’s next for Virginia? Many times the rigorous academic path at Thomas Jefferson’s school precludes any consideration of extra time on campus, so again it’s uncertain which if any of the Cavaliers stars who went to Detroit return for more action. Their NCAA qualifiers were, virtually all of them, seniors, 5th years, or Grad students. At Duke it just seemed the past, well, for some time that the Blue Devils flag was borne by the Finesilver brothers. Two sets of twins dispersed across the lineup, Duke had all four in action in back to back seasons from 2017-2019 and all had great success. 149lb Mitch Finesilver was a 3X ACC runner-up, ACC champ, and an All American. This year the last two Finesilvers along with 197lb Kaden Russell and Hvt. Jonah Niesenbaum led a return to respect and full roster status for the Blue Devils. Under Coach Glen Lanham Duke has shown flashes of tournament brilliance though their often limited roster precludes consistently fielding a highly competitive dual meet squad. The 7-10 regular season was a triumph of sorts highlighted by a Southern Scuffle title for 149lb Josh Finesilver, a fifth place finish for 174lb Matt Finesilver, and a very good 9th place team showing. The ACCs were a different kettle of fish, though. Stacked with All Americans at virtually every weight, Duke found traction hard to come by come conference time and only the Finesilvers were able to set a date for Detroit. Both Josh and Matt made day two before finishing a great Blue Devils-Finesilver family wrestling run. There may, however, be a post script. An UNIMPEACHABLE source from within the program noted that while Russell and hvt. Ben Frye have finished their Blue Devil careers, one of the Finesilvers stands on the precipice of return pending, among factors, Grad School acceptance. Along with 2 more years of up and coming Hvt. Niesenbaum and a smattering of good light and middleweight talent getting better the Blue Devils are poised to do some damage. Said someone somewhere who knows.

To sum it up, the SoCon and the ACC did well enough to get noticed but not enough to move the needle of National perception much. 11 All Americans between the two conferences, 6 of them repeat winners-good, needs to be better. Every ACC team with at least 2 qualifiers-good, needs to be better. 5 of 8 eligible SoCon teams with NCAA representation-good, needs to be better. They will be.

A Non wrestling note, sad and happy

February 21st, 2022 the World suffered a loss it only barely recognized but will suffer from for decades, if not a century more. That amount of time is the measure of rarity in the births of people the likes of the late Dr. Paul Farmer. Poorly phrased for “the likes of” simply will not be seen again in our or your children’s lifetime. A rail thin bespectacled joy spreading Colossus, Farmer was an “Ologist” if you will. A person whose breadth and depth of knowledge, skill and practical application spread over so many fields it was difficult to catalog them all. His passion was health, his cause was the advancement of medical treatment and knowledge, his workplace was the World. Not OUR world, but the world of the indigent, the starving, the diseased, the repressed, the homeless and the landless. Where day after week after month after year after decade Dr. Paul Farmer labored to renew, rejuvenate and raise up those the World neither sees nor gives care to, at every moment beset by handicaps and dangers financial, political, and natural. His skills saved thousands, if not tens of thousands. His shared knowledge and its application has benefited, and will benefit, literally, millions. When he did not awaken that morning in Rwanda the collective good of life itself felt a tremor of sadness. “Mountains beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder puts to words, as well as anyone, the early portions of the who, what, where and when of this man. Nothing written, sung or spoken can encapsulate or explain the why, other than to say it was right.

Ted Carreras

(1) SHOUT OUT to column favorite Brian Smith and his Missouri Tigers for ANOTHER Top 10 finish. Unashamedly a fan of #TigerStyle, even if the roll in this column is heavily with the non Top 20 teams.

(2) A particularly annoying phrase drummed into all Best Buy “customer service reps” some years back as the ONLY allowable terminology in place of “no.” Tolerated the store, HATED the practice.

(3) The Hokies 125lb Sam Latona, a 2021 All American, shined late in the season but missed AA status this time. If as expected he slides up to 133, VT will have a very talented lineup down low with Latona and Andonian as AA anchors. 2X Finalist and 2019 National champ Lewis will team with uber-talented hvt. Hunter Catka, back from redshirt, for upper end Hokie caused mayhem.

Season 5,Column 49: The Wild, Wacky weekend that wasn’t

If ever a championship ran true to form it was this past weekends NCAA Championships as contenders, pretenders and would be usurpers, with a few noticeable exceptions, fell before the onslaught of Penn State and their brawny BIG 10 brethren.

Penn States 9th title in 11 years was a classic Nittany Lion showing as Coach Cael Sandersons crew went a perfect 5 for 5 in title matches, easily outdistancing sentimental favorite and host Michigan and defending champion Iowa. The final team scores from the Top 10 had the BIG 10 holding five of the spots. Congrats all round to the Lions, Wolverines, Hawkeyes, the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Northwestern Wildcats. More on all of them and the BIG 10 at every other website blog, podcast, media snippet and fanboy/girl post in existence. Let’s check in on the teams that made unexpected stories come true, good and bad.

The Arizona State Sun Devils get short shrift compared to other national powers and, make no doubt, that is EXACTLY what they are. Zeke Jones and company have now engineered consecutive Top 4 finishes, earning 11 All American honors the past two seasons. 5 of them were repeaters from 2021, and all five are back for next year as well. Brandon Courtney, Michael McGee, Kyle Parco, Jacori Teemer and Cohlton Schultz could easily be expected to repitame, por favor for next season. There’s a super crew of young stars ready for their own shot at Sun Devil stardom as well, starting with Cael Valencia, the latest of the heralded Valencia family to don the Maroon and Gold. Then there’s Richie Figueroa, a consensus top pound for pound recruit nationally. One interesting upper weight point: the status of 4X PAC 12 197lb champ Kordell Norfleet. “Kordell is 50/50 whether he’ll be back next year with a medical [redshirt]” (1) was the word from Coach Jones immediately after the Championships concluded. Norfleet was one match away from placing last year but had a sub par Championships this time around and may want a little redemption. It’s a salty bunch of Sun Devils lining up for next year, no doubt. They only lose 1 super senior and, while we’re at it, let’s give a West Coast shout out to the Oregon State Beavers as well. 2 years into Coach Chris Pendletons tenure, they are two time PAC 12 runners-up and had four All Americans. The Beavers will see only two of their championship tournament participants leave and 3 of this years All Americans will return next season. With Stanford under the masterful hand of Rob Koll, the Cardinal took home 2 All American finishes as Real Woods and Shane Griffith repeated the honors.(2) All five Cardinal wrestlers who were in action at the NCAAs are eligible to compete next season. Cal Polys Evan Wick earned a 4th All American accolade and teammate Bernie Truax a 2nd as the Mustangs will be missing only Wick from next years squad. Bakersfield extended their astonishing streak of sending competitors to the Nationals for an amazing 48th year. While both Chance Rich and Jacob Seider completed their RoadRunner careers in Detroit, Bakersfield continues to grow and go forward with Coach Luke Smith. They’ll be a threat to extend their streak next season and possibly take a top four spot at the PAC 12 championships. As to the conference’s newest affiliate member, Little Rock will reset for 2022-23 with an only underclassmen roster. The Trojans, with Coach Neil Erisman, seem happy as the Midwest member of the PAC 12 and will look to Tristan Wills and a pair of brothers, the Bianchis and the Carsons, to make progress towards national competitiveness.

More to come over the next two weeks with a look at the SoCon and ACCs NCAA results plus a season summary from as many coaches as the Scribe can request/badger/plead into responding. Feel free to circle the correct choice.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) Interview clip from USA Wrestling.

(2) Both Woods and Griffith were named NWCA All Americans after the Covid-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 Nationals, making Woods a 2XAA and Griffith a three timer heading into 2022-23.

Season 5,Column 48: Bracket Racket Part 2

Further analysis of this years Division 1 Wrestling brackets reveals a few more questionable seed positions and wrestler omissions.

165-Another question at the 9 as West Virginia’s Peyton Hall, 25-3, champ or finalist in every tournament he’s entered this yr. (1), seems more like a 6. Sliding Michigan’s Cameron Amine to the 7 changes little if anything for him or Michigans title hopes. With Carson Karchla at 8 and up top we will likely see a Karchla-Wick showdown. Yes, please! Finally, Harvard’s Phil Conigliaro at 9 helps set up 4 excellent cross conference first round throwdowns. That does assume Northwestern’s David Ferrante escapes Oregon States Matthew Olguin in the 33-32 match.

174-Wow. Dennis Robin, seeded 31st, is 13-15. Dom Solis, seeded 32nd, is 15-15. Austin Murphy is 12-5. Notice that the significantly larger number is on the left side of Murphys ledger. All of Murphy’s losses are to Conference champs or Top 10 ranked individuals and Murphy wins the ratio war as well, hands down. What Campbells star doesn’t have that West Virginia’s and Marylands athletes do have is a seat at the NCAA table in Detroit. The Scribe tried very hard to justify those decisions. Perhaps you can.

184 A statistical summary:

Greg Harvey, Pitt 10-10, 4-6 conf. (3 of 4 conf. wins vs the SAME guy!)

Chris Weiler, Wisconsin 11-13 6-8 conf.

Max Lyon, Purdue 12-13, 4-8 conf.

Jack Jessen, Northwestern 3-11 2-8 conf.

All are competing at the NCAA Championships. Who isn’t….

Charles Small, Hofstra 18-9 14-5 conf.

DeAndre Nassar Cleveland State 17-6 9-3 conf.

Nassar beat Lyon and has a win over SoCon 197lb champ Matthew Waddell. Small beat Weiler. Go figure.

197-NO conference champ with a winning record and in league dominance deserves being put into the wrestle in match. Nor do they deserve the “wow, forgot about him” treatment. MAC champion Ben Smith of Cleveland State, 20-4, is seeded 29th, suffering a “Lack of MAC” respect as much as Lock Havens 125lb champ Anthony Noto. Ridiculous. As to SoCon champ Matthew Waddells #33 and final spot set at the weight, well, there’s little justification for that either. After moving up from 184 mid January Waddell is 10-1. And, quite frankly, his foe in no way belongs in the wrestle in either. At 19-4 Clarions Will Feldkamp took 2nd in the MAC (see a trend?) Rutgers Greg Bulsak and Navy star Jake Koser (twice) have topped Feldkamp, his only losses till the MAC finals. Does that sound like a resume for “next to last man in” to you?

285-The top 11 seeds seem spot on but it gets a little sloppy and BIG 10 heavy figuratively and literally after that. There’s a good case for Campbells Taye Ghadiali to be higher than 15. The SoCon champs 2 losses? To #10 Nathan Traxler of Virginia Tech and to Central Michigans 2X AA Matt Stencel, the 8th seed. The seeds for 26-4 Isaac Reid of Lock Haven and 25-10 Mike McAleavey of the Citadel seem low at 25 and 28 respectively. 1 bad November day gave Reid 2 of his 4 losses. Only CMUs Stencel and Air Forces #5 ranked and undefeated Wyatt Hendrickson have set Reid back since. McAleavey outpaced multiple major conference stars at both the CKLV and the Southern Scuffle and took Ghadiali to OT in the SoCon finals.

So that’s a simple 2 part summary bracket observations from a (mostly) non Power 5 conference point of view. Hope it made you think.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) The guy who took two tournament titles from Hall this season? That would be undefeated #2 ranked Southern Scuffle and BIG 12 champ Keegan O’Toole of Missouri.

Season 5, Column 47: Good Intentions, Bad Seeds, and Ugly Truths

The NCAA released the paths towards glory and heartbreak for the 330 men competing at the NCAA Division One Wrestling Tournament and, as usual, joyful noise and loud teeth gnashing was heard nationwide.

While Power Five conferences rolled in deep selection pools for multiple weight classes [and some would say, as they deserve to] one could not ignore the the tough roads laid out for champs, runners-up, and 20 plus match winners from other leagues. Just look at the following examples and make up your own mind.

125-You’ll need go no further than the 2nd pairing in the 1st weight class to see an eyebrow raising matchup. The astonishing redshirt freshman MAC champion from Lock Haven, Anthony Noto, is absurdly seeded 17th with a 30-1 record. That’s his listed record on the team web site, though one “w” seems to have disappeared between Notos MAC winning run and Wednesdays championships bracket release. He was given the 2nd lowest seed of any conference champ, the lowest being 20th seed SoCon champ Fabian Gutierrez. Both are bracketed with high quality BIG 10 opponents for their 1st match.

133-Penns Michael Colaiocco ripped through the season. He took two “issue” losses at December’s MatMen Open but won all 21 other times he competed this year, taking three tournament titles and multiple ranked scalps in the process. Worthy of a top 3 seed in most classes, it’s easy to concede that’s not the case this season. Defending National champ Roman Bravo-Young of Penn St., multiple World medalist and two time NCAA finalist Daton Fix of Oklahoma State, and 2X AA Austin DeSanto are well set at 1-2-3. Except that DeSanto was, amazingly, moved all the way to the 5th seed and Arizona States Michael McGhee grabbed the 3. ?After that, though? If you put the guys between 4 and 9 in a round robin, [except DeSanto!!] Colaiocco would emerge top three as often as you’d run it. So, why the 9 seed? To avoid meeting a conference foe 1st round if he was seeded 6th? Maybe. To avoid breaking up an All BIG 10 matchup if he was seeded 7th? Maybe. Heck, even giving stellar VT AA Korbin Myers, the 4th seed, the benefit of his own spectacular 18-1 record, are you betting on Beans [1] to bump Coliaocco to the backside of the tournament every time? Most times?

157-Take a gander at the bottom half pairing of 21-6 Johnny Lovett of Central Michigan with 27-7 Andrew Cerniglia of Navy. Both finished 2nd in grueling conference tournaments. Both placed at multiple events and have beaten Top 10 foes. There’s just 1 bad two day stretch between them both all season, IF you want to call Cerniglias showing at the CKLV bad. As he dropped 3 matches by just 5 points total to highly ranked foes, we do not. 2-3 spots higher for both seems more accurate from here, and apart from each other. If it was set up that way they’d both bust brackets.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

[1] Myers, the much loved 7th year transfer star from Edinboro, picked up this nickname some years back. He’s cemented a legacy in Blacksburg and WILL be on the podium again in Detroit. Just not necessarily ahead of Coliaocco.

Season 5,Column 46: So Cool, So Hot, SoCon Tournament Preview

The conference that saved, then strengthened Southern wrestling goes all in Saturday the 5th to set its team for Detroit with multiple medal threats and a herd of hard charging dark horses.

The hope-filled eight convene again in Boone, North Carolina for the Southern Conference Wrestling Tournament. Coach JohnMark Bentleys host Mountaineers are fresh from breaking Scotti Sentes Campbell Camels three year stranglehold on the regular season title. BUT, don’t for a second think this a one OR a two hump race, folks. Six of the eight squads in the nine team conference will have mucho say-so in who takes home team medals AND who punches a ticket to the National Championships in two weeks. Literally every weight class is drama loaded with razor thin margins of separation between contestants. Let’s take a delicious ten course dive into this showdown high up in the mountains of western North Carolina, shall we?

125-in 2016 Fabian Gutierrez headed Eastbound and down from his Commerce City, Colorado home to Chattanooga. 76 wins and three NCAA championship visits later, the Joyce Litchford Memorial scholarship winner and 2021 Sports Management graduate is the #1 seed at his final conference tournament. Earned, not given, as Gutierrez defeated uber-star in the making Caleb Smith of App State and 2X Conference champ, 2X NCAA qualifier Korbin Meink of Campbell this season. In fact, if your names not Killian Cardinale, the All American from West Virginia, Fabian [@faybeein_g] has pretty much had his way with you this year. Still, one could easily see Smith, a sophomore with a 1,000 mile gas tank, or Meink, the trial-hardened veteran, on top of the podium Saturday. Meink went 0-2 in this three way round robin, Smith 1-1 with his OT win over Meink clinching the Mountaineers regular season conference title. A star sophomore for App State, Smith essentially forced two conference champs to move around or move out of the Mountaineers lineup this season. He seized the starting spot at 125 and you’ll need good luck and a crowbar getting it away from him for the next few seasons. Meinks been there, done that, emerging from a 7 deep weight class with three NCAA qualifiers for the Camels to get the post season nod. 125 is one of the few weight classes at this tournament where it’s unlikely a serious challenger will emerge outside of the top three, though if Davidsons Aedyn Concepcion finds his form, that will change. The Wildcats been mild pretty much all year, though, reason(s) undisclosed, so it seems a bit late for a bounceback.

133-Nobody outside the UTC wrestling room foresaw the emergence of Sophomore Brayden Palmer into the Mocs lineup and onto the national scene. Then at the Southern Scuffle EVERYBODY, including the Scribe, stood up and dropped a collective “WHO DAT?” as Palmer blazed up the backside with SEVEN straight wins to take third. OK, understood, capitalization somewhat overused but still relevant. Palmer, whos 22 wins leads the team, is coming in hot and angry. He dropped a squeaker to Indianas Brock Hudkins last time out as the Mocs beat the Hoosiers for their first win over a Power 5 team since 2016. Prior to that though, he had won nine straight, four with bonus points. Squarely in his path, App States Codi Russell, up a weight class (see the 125 preview as to why), spoiling to avenge two regular season losses to Palmer. Also in the way and on his own post season path to success, Davidson’s Kyle Gorant. One of two Senior anchors to Coach Andy Lausiers squad Gorant, an Academic All American, handled Palmer 9-5 in an early season SoCon showdown and boasts a sharp 18-10 mark on the year. In between Gorant and the top two sits Gardner-Webbs Todd Carter. Carter bonused in half his wins this year, doubled his victory total from last season, and beat Gorant 8-3. MmHmm. It’s LIKE that at 133 in the SoCon, without even bringing up The Citadels fine Jake Rotunda and Campbells transfer from Illinois, Domenic Zaccone. Rotunda, injured last year, saw a fine 10-3 campaign end with an injury loss in the SoCon finals in 2021. 11-10 with a tough schedule this time around but 5-3 in conference and spoiling to spoil somebodies post-season. Zaccone and Davidsons Gorant have a first round showdown to follow up a final regular season match win for the Wildcat. This time?

141-Campbells Shannon Hanna, 14-5, takes the top seed over 23-8 Heath Gonyer of App State by virtue of Hannas 6-0 conference record and his 2-1 sudden victory win in the head to head match. Gonyer, a freshman, strung together nine and six match win streaks this year, ably filling in for injured returning 2X SoCon champ Anthony Brito. Another redshirt senior whos battled injuries through a career at two teams, Gardner-Webbs Trevon Majette began at Old Dominion. He sat out a bit after transferring from that murdered program and is 9-6 this year, 5-1 in conference, losing to Gonyer at Novembers Mountaineer Invitational. Majette was out mid December-mid January, undefeated since. Here’s a weight class crying out for an at large bid.

149-You’d have to look a bit to find a year where the SoCon had a returning All American and a bonafide All American threat in the same weight class. That’s what’s up here as App States 3X SoCon champ, 2021 AA Johnathan Millner is headed for a 3rd showdown with Campbells Josh Heil and looking for his third victory over the Camels 100 plus match winner. Heil, himself a 3X SoCon champ and 4X NCAA qualifier, was undone so badly by improper refereeing at last years NCAA Championships rules were changed post season. The Heil family wrestling heritage stretches through multiple programs across a decade of modern success and Josh is hungry to add more to the legacy. Millner will join the 100 win club this year with a chance at 3X AA status should he make the podium in Detroit and return for a final season. The big twos dominance has pretty much kiboshed any hope for an upset or an at-large bid for the SoCon here. However, talented returners for 2022 like UTCs SoCon Freshman of the Year Noah Castillo, Davidsons Gavin Damasco, and Presbyterians Reid Stewart show promise.

157-After a three year run at 165 the Citadels Dazjon “Cheese” Casto dropped down a weight and blitzed the SoCon with a perfect conference record, 17-6 overall. The #1 seed has been on point all season, making the semis at the Bulldogs own Battle at the Citadel. He went one round better at the Navy Classic with a run to the Finals. He made the 2nd day at both the CKLV and the Southern Scuffle. Casto and #2 seed defending SoCon champ Cody Bond of App State missed a regular season matchup as the Citadels dual with the Mountaineers was postponed and not rescheduled. Expect it in the SoCon finals. Bond, 17-7, is actually 8-0 against SoCon foes if you count dual and tournament results. It’s been Bond, Cody Bond (1) for 2 months running with eight straight wins for the App State star after a 2 day, 2-2 showing at the Southern Scuffle. Seeds 3 and 4, Campbells JoJo Aragona and UTCs Lincoln Heck, are 2nd half stars, both earning starting spots late in the season. Aragona, a transfer after a heralded freshman season for BIG 10 power Rutgers, finally fixed 157 for the Camels. Multi year starter Ben Barton left for Lock Haven last off season, and Aragona displaced Matt Dallara and Troy Nation for the post season. Heck worked last years SoCon Freshmen of the year, Weston Wichman, out of the Mocs starting lineup and heads into the SoCon tournament at 10-4. The run began at the Scuffle where Heck had a 5 match, 3-2 day in his first regular outing as a Moc. Aragona was a 2021 Christmas present for the Camels. With just two matches under his belt for this season its win 3 straight or wait till next year for the Campbell late comer. As to why he’s seeded 3rd, good question! When you find out let the 5th seed, Davidsons Bryce Sanderlin, know. He’s 16-9, 5-3 against conference foes. Yes, one of those three was to Aragona, but still, the numbers don’t seem to add up. Just an observation.

165-Simple. 4 bonafide stars. 3 previous NCAA qualifiers. 2 automatic bids. Make that math work. UTCs Drew Nicholson, defending SoCon champ, is 15-6, 8-0 in the SoCon and seeded 1st. App States Will Formato, the 2nd seed, has finished 2nd and 3rd at the SoCon the last 2 seasons. He takes a 3 yr. record of 18-4 in duals and tournaments versus SoCon foes into Saturday. Nicholson defeated Formato in sudden victory this year and has won nine straight matches overall. In their personal rivalry, though, Formato had beaten Nicholson 3 in a row until last month. It’s THAT tight between them. Gardner-Webbs R.J. Mosley was odd man out at the weight till his at large NCAA bid last year. Mosleys shortened seasons the past two years precluded equaling his 22-15 redshirt freshman breakout campaign, but he seems set to fulfill that promise. Hes 4-3 in conference and has closed the gap on both Nicholson and Formato, facing and falling to each in a three day span, both by tiebreaker. Same type of match, a tiebreaker but a different result when Mosley met Porter. RJs win over Selwyn slid the Citadel star to the 4th seed. 14-6 after a two weight class jump this year, Porter, the 2nd leg of the Citadels “Trilogy of Terror” holds a 6-2 mark versus conference foes in duals and tournaments combined. This looks like a Top 4 lock into the semis, but from there its Katy bar the door. DAMN shame that just two are guaranteed a spot at the show.

174-Thomas Flitz of App State has been a starter most of the past 4 years, qualified for the NCAAs three times and notched a 30 win season two years back. So, with a preseason rank outside the Top 25 he was a no- brainer for the All Overlooked and Underrated team this campaign. He’s undefeated in conference for the 2nd time in three years. Medical issues prevented a potential break out performance at the Scuffle but he does have a win over North Carolina’s Top 10 ranked Clay Lautt from the dual season. Defending conference champ Austin Murphy of Campbell, 2nd seed, has had a limited season but made last years bloodround at the NCAAs. (2) Murphy was 3-0 for the Camels at the Chippewa Challenge mid January, defeating likely NCAA qualifiers Bret Fedewa of host Central Michigan and Albert Urias of Cal St. Bakersfield along with Americans Tim Fitzpatrick. He also has a victory over Lehighs Jake Logan. The gap between the top two seeds and the rest of the field is significant but somebody’s going to be looking for an at large bid when the dust settles in this weight class.

184-With returning champ Caleb Hopkins of Campbell, the emergence of UTCs Thomas Sell, and the steady presence of Gardner-Webbs Ja’Quan Anderson, the top 3 seeds have separated themselves this year in the SoCon. Hopkins, 26-7 the past two years, has swept conference foes for two seasons in a row. Like Murphy, he picked up three wins for the Camels at the Chippewa Challenge. Sell slid into the 184 spot after NCAA qualifier Matthew Waddell bumped up to 197. MUCH after returning Moc 197lb starter Logan Andrew was lost for the season. Perhaps sooner would have been better, but that is another story. Sell is 7-1 in conference, Anderson 6-1 but outside the SoCon they’re only 21-16 combined. In short, Hopkins has lapped the field. Even with this years abundance of talent at 184 look for Caleb to snag some wins at NCAAs. Fun fact warning- there may be three, count em, three Hopkins brothers in the Camels starting lineup next season. Just sayin.

197-Campbells Chris Kober, defending conference champ, opened his Camels career with 19, 20, and 20 win campaigns. He’s only lost 4 conference matches the past 3 years. However, he has only 19 wins the past two campaigns due to Covid-19 and other, unverified issues. With UTCs Waddell and double tough Tyler Mousaw of VMI ready, willing, and able to snag the SoCons lone bid at 197, Kober will need to be perfect to take the title and the trip to Detroit that comes with it. It will be his 3rd NCAAs should he do it. Waddell, 7-1 since moving up to 197, is aiming to return to the NCAAs as well. Mousaw, last years 3rd place SoCon finisher, is 12-4 versus conference foes in his first two years. Injured in this years pre-season team wrestle-offs, Mousaw may be hitting his stride. If so, look out. These three should be standing come the semis with Waddell and Mousaw scrapping for the chance to dethrone Kober. IF Kober doesn’t look past Anthony Perrine of Gardner Webb, now at 197 for the Runnin Bulldogs after taking 3rd at heavyweight last year. Perrines 4-2 in conference. Some of his non conference foes? VTs Dakota “Junkyard Dog” Howard, Kordell Norfleet of Arizona State, NC States Isaac Trumble, and Cam Caffey of Michigan State. YO. Welcome to 197, Anthony!

285-Another class where a defending champ hunts a repeat title without the benefit of a top seed, 285 is hurting for a third bid. 2021 champ Mike McAleavey of the Citadel leads his team with 22 wins and placed top eight at both the CKLV and the Southern Scuffle. Yet, he saw his lofty status as the conferences big, big dog rudely snatched away by Campbells ferocious Taye Ghadiali. The Camel took a 6-1 win in their match and helped secure the #1 seed with the victory. Ghadiali is 16-2 and easily could be undefeated. Only two, one point losses, to VTs Nathan Traxler and 2X AA Matt Stencel of CMU, stood between Ghadiali and perfection this year. These two will go to Detroit and win matches there. Fine senior Mitchell Trigg of Davidson and sturdy Michael Burchell of App State look to be out of luck barring a true 2nd place match or an at large bid. So, there’s your 2022 SoCon Tournament preview. Grab some coffee and a snack and enjoy a FINE wrestling weekend.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) Daniel Craig and Sean Connery remain forever deadlocked for best James Bond ever, but App States Bond is clearly top Cody.

(2) Murphy came up one match short of AA status in 2021, beating Edinboros Jacob Oliver, Mason Kaufman of Northern Illinois, and Hayden Hastings of Wyoming at last years NCAAs. Make the tournament and he could see the latter two again. Sadly, Oliver, a multi year Fightin Scots starter, was only in lineup for a match or two this year.

Season 5,Column 45: 10 questions for Todd Beckerman and Brown

From the land of lobsters, Shark and Tuna Tournaments and state wide road trips on a half tank of gas comes wit, wisdom and common sense from the big Bear in Providence, Rhode Island.

What makes you smile the most about Brown University, and why?

“We have a tradition at Brown University that first year students walk through the Van Sickles Gates in the Fall to start their college journey and walk out the Van Sickles Gates when they graduate. They say it is bad luck if you don’t walk through the gates a second time. It always brings a smile to my face when they graduate.”

You’ve had teams in the past with outstanding individual talent [Jonathan Viruet, Ian Butterbrodt, AA Ophir Bernstein, Justin Staudemeyer]. Who has stood out for the Bears this year?

“We have a really young team this season that has seen a season of growth and development throughout the year. They are excited and ready to compete this weekend at the 118th E.I.W.A. Championships.” [pre-tournament co-favorite Cornell will host]. As to the Bears, look for Brown 141lb Timothy Levine, 17-12 with 3 straight w’s coming in, to make some noise. Also, don’t count out stellar efforts from fellow Bear middleweights 149lb Ricky Cabanillas and 157lb Jack Bokina.

How do you and your staff identify and bring in the rare type of student athlete it takes to succeed in the Ivy League?

“We do a lot of homework on the front end to learn about their academics, attending competitions throughout the country to evaluate their wrestling ability and building strong relationships. Throughout this process we learn more about them and who they are as a person. We are seeing a lot of student-athletes that are really valuing their academics and keeping their grades up so they have an opportunity to pursue an Ivy League degree. This is making our job a little easier these days. We have a well-rounded coaching staff that can meet the needs of every student-athlete we recruit.”

Your staff has a combined nine AA awards from three different schools on their resumes. Does this suprise potential recruits and impress potential donors?

“[We] added Jesse Delgado, (2X National Champion, 3X AA for Illinois) and T.J. Dudley, (National Finalist and 3X AA for Nebraska) to our coaching staff this past Fall. Combined with Coach Darius Little (AA, NC State) now in his 4th year on staff, [those hires] have really opened up many doors for recruiting the top talent to Brown University and igniting our alumni base. It has also brought another dimension to our wrestling room with training and improvement.”

You coach at one of the few schools where there is an endowed position for the Head Coach. What extra pressure does that bring?

“We have a strong alumni base that is very supportive of Brown wrestling. Our goal is to fully endow the program and we are really close. We received another big gift this year that we plan to announce this Spring. The gift will endow another position and put us one step closer to fully endowing the program.”

Besides more wins, tournament placings and NCAA qualifiers, what metrics are you using to measure success for the Bears this season?

“We are constantly measuring success for our team on the mat, in the weight room and in the classroom. Always pushing to make them better in every area of their lives.”

Can you give us a clear analysis of the turmoil within the Ivy League these past two years and how Brown successfully navigated it?

“Last year was challenging but [even without competition] we grew as a team. This year we are very grateful for every opportunity we have to put on the Brown wrestling singlet and step on the mat to compete.”

When people think of Rhode Island they think of seafood and hearty New England cuisine. Where do you send your visitors for good food?

“If you’re looking for seafood we suggest Hemenways right near campus. We also suggest Federal Hill which is referred to as “Little Italy” with some amazing Italian food. It also doesn’t hurt that Johnson and Wales University (with a Division III wrestling program) in downtown Providence is one of the top culinary colleges in the world. New restaurants are opening up every year.

Last words, your words…why come to Brown University?

“Come to Brown for the opportunity to win a National title, become an NCAA AA, and graduate with a degree that will set you up for the rest of your life. This isn’t a four year college decision but a decision that will open up doors and opportunities for the next 50 years! Make your mark and leave your legacy at Brown wrestling.”

Thank you, Coach Beckerman. Hope to see you in Point Judith or Narragansett some fine summer.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

Season 5, Column 44; Some questions for JohnMark Bentley and App State; and a Pirate looks at bias

The newly minted 2022 regular season SoCon champs Head Coach breaks down all things Mountaineers.

What makes you smile the most about Appalachian State and why?

“I think it’s just the culture. We have a pretty special place with a unique fan base. Wrestlings a big deal here, so the smile comes to my face when people recognize Appalachian State. It’s not just a local brand but a national brand.”

You’re the Dean of SoCon Coaches. Would you share some things, both good and bad, that you’ve seen change the most in your years in Boone?

“I think the qualifying system has really helped our conference. When I first came here to Appalachian (all the NCAA Qualifying procedures) were based on historical data. I think that moving it to a system that rewards current data has definitely helped the Southern Conference qualify more bids to the NCAA Tournament. A lot of the schools in our conference are investing more money and resources in the sport of wrestling so I think that’s why you’re seeing more teams that are competitive not just on the conference but the national level as well.”

This is year two of a revamped coaching staff. What has the hiring of Ian Miller and the promotion of Randall Diabe done for the team?

“It’s been great! Our staff is very close. Our philosophies are aligned. [Yet] it’s good to have different perspectives. You have Coach Miller who wrestled at Kent State and coached at Oregon State so…he wrestled at another mid-major and had tremendous success as a college athlete himself with different perspectives that he can bring to the table. Obviously he’s still a tremendous wrestler in his own right. He can wrestle with our guys on a daily basis. Having him here with the same philosophy as me has been very good. Randall brings such a tremendous dynamic to our team. I recruited him and he wrestled here at Appalachian State. He bleeds Black and Gold. He gives such a great perspective to our recruits and their parents and our current wrestlers because he’s been through the program. I think having someone, one of your own, on your staff is a pretty special thing.”

How do you stand on the RTC [Regional Training Center] situation and where do you see it taking wrestling?

“We are excited. Our RTC is now up and off the ground. We are raising money currently and I think it will allow this program to do some things that currently are not possible. We will be able to attract and retain quality coaches and keep them here longer. It will help financially with that. I think it’s going to help bring in training partners for our current college guys. They’ll have a lot of different workout partners. It benefits the entire area of Western North Carolina. This RTC is going to bring a lot of opportunities to the youth and high school wrestlers of this area as well.”

You’ve lost key starters for good portions of time, one for the season. Being the preseason favorite brought the pressure. How do you feel you negotiated the season?

“Its obviously been a roller coaster. We started the year off with the guys projected to be in our lineup including five returning SoCon champions. Of that predicted lineup three are not in there currently. We’ve had two injuries. Obviously you have [197 lb] Mason Fiscella having a season ending injury to his knee. Anthony Brito, 141lb returning Conference champ, has been battling injuries in his own right, and then [defending conference champ] Sean Carter is behind Codi Russell at 133. When you look at that, yeah, it’s been tough. I don’t think anyone that predicted us to win the Southern Conference thought that maybe we might have two defending conference champs not in the lineup. Then obviously losing Mason with the kind of season that he was having was a big blow to our lineup. I’m just proud of how our guys have responded. We always talk in this program how it’s not about one individual. It’s about the team and I think this year more than any year in recent memory has been a true testament to that philosophy. We’ve had some things happen, some injuries and things that were unfortunate but it’s next guy up. Our guys have to buy into the program and know that their opportunity may come at unexpected times.”

Wrestling is huge in North Carolina with 7 D1 teams. Are recruits suprised by that?

“Yeah, I think out of state recruits are. In North Carolina we are one of the few states that have a lot of D1 programs. Wrestling is growing and gaining more notoriety and a bigger fan following. When out of state recruits see what our fan following is like and see the rivalries we have with the in state schools they are taken aback a little bit. I don’t think it’s something they expect.”

Besides more wins, more tournament placings, and more NCAA qualifiers, what metrics will define success for App State this season?

“I think national recognition. Obviously we’ve got a lot of guys that have high hopes, high expectations. We want to win a conference championship each and every year. It’s something we want to do, and then being recognized on a national level. We’d like to achieve a Top 25 ranking this year and have some All Americans. Those are our goals at the end of the season that will determine success this year and I think we’ve got the guys that can do it.”

MANY thanks to Coach Bentley, Mark Strelow, and the App State Athletics Department. We hope to share Coach Bentleys views on how his deep Carolina roots and strong faith shaped the entirety of his life, and maybe pry a home area food stop favorite or two away from the Mountaineers BHHHC (1), in a later column.

There was an idea. To take an unvarnished look at all the D1 wrestling results for the season. To remove the aura of team names/uniforms and the hoary sanctity of certain conferences and lay bare the underlying bias towards certain uniforms and conferences. And then, that fount of grappling knowledge known as Wrestling by Pirate did it for you/us/everybody with one lead-in sentence. AND some very telling who earned what for which conference statistics. Find his eye-opening breakdown in Jason Bryant’s Mat Talk Online newsletter. We HIGHLY recommend measuring the distribution of bids at 184 as a leading example.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) Bald Headed Hero Head Coach, a highly visible and highly successful subset of D1 wrestling coaches.