A PSU Coronation in Chattanooga, random second half of the season notes, and a mighty flattering phone call…..
GET OFF MY MOUNTAIN, COWBOY
Penn St. did exactly what everyone expected them to do at the Southern Scuffle…almost. Cael Sandersons Nittany Lions went all Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western on the field, putting 9 finalists in 8 wt. classes, winning 6, setting a new point record, and having 1 wrestler* win the tournaments 2 individual awards. Nick Lee, Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph, Mark Hall, Shakur Rasheed and Bo Nickal* (if 2X Nat. Champ teammate Jason Nolf is “The Matrix”, Nickal is now “*”, for there ARE no words for what he is doing to people) all won at 141, 157, 165, 174, 184, and 197lbs respectively. Nickal won the MVP and the Gorrarian award. That means you beat the hyena, not the dog, [NEVER the dog] out of everybody. Really, the Gorrarian goes to the wrestler who pins the most number of opponents in the least amount of time. In Baseball, the equivalent is winning the MVP and a Golden Glove. In basketball its winning the MVP and Offensive POY. Nickal, the blond haired, blue eyed, long, tall, lanky wrassler from down Allen, TX, way, is simply the best. He was last year at 184. He is this year at 197. He’s Pecos Bill in a singlet. Don’t mess with him. And, in a Ripleys Believe it or not note, 3x finalist and 2X champ Nolf and “*” are, historically, behind the PSU curve of achievement to teammate Vincenzo Joseph. According to wresting savant David Mirikitani, PSUs Joseph is the first Nittany Lion to win National Championships in his FIRST two years. Like, ever, fer shure, fer shure@. Call him VJ-VE. Vincenzo Joseph, Victorious Everywhere. Now, about that almost. Well, 3 PSU guys only won their titles by decision. One of their freshmen superstars got pinned in the semis. He placed 3rd. Another freshman superstar got beat in the semis. He took 3rd. A finalist lost, beaten but not beaten down. That is as almost as it gets for these Lions, who finished nearly 30 points ahead of a damn tough Oklahoma St. team who had the other 4 champions. John Smiths Cowboys showed they’re back in trophy form after a bizarre, injury plagued, black cloud of a 2018 season where they finished 13th nationally and weren’t even the top Big 12 team at Nationals. They will win their conference (ahead of 2nd place Iowa State, you read it called here first) and they will be on the podium at Nationals. In Chattanooga Cowboys Nick Piccininni, Daton Fix, Kaden Gfeller (Guh-FELL-er) and Derek White grabbed Gold, and 9 Cowboys overall made the podium.
WHO DAT DONE WHAT ELSE
The field fell into place behind the top 2 with Iowa St. continuing to improve the Kevin Dresser way, taking 3rd. Think the Scuffle was a big deal for ISU? The Cyclones posted no less than 5, count ’em, 5 video and written updates about their efforts in Chattanooga. 8 Cyclones found podium finishes, and add Austin Gomez to the looong short list of 133lb title contenders. Dresser and fellow Iowa Hawkeye alumns/current ISU coaches Brent Metcalf and Dan St. John are fast-tracking the Cardinal and Gold for success. A tireless motivator/recruiter/fundraiser, Dressers next call should be to the Doris Kearns Goodwin estate to secure a naming rights endowment for the Cyclones coaching staff.
4th place was earned, not given, as the Stanford Cardinal (the color, not the bird) had their highest ever Scuffle finish and nearly doubled their previous placement totals. 9 of Coach Jason Borrellis matmen found their way to the podium. Finalist freshman 141lb Real Woods and 197lb Sophomore Captain Nathan Traxler fell to PSU opponents. As it stands now Stanford has definitely closed the PAC 12 title race gap with Arizona State. Not sayin, just sayin….
Joel (Human motivational quote) Sharratt led his Navy grapplers to a 5th place finish, putting 5 Middies on the podium. An earlier column noted bands of brothers competing for Binghamton (the brothers Deprez) and Duke (the Finesilver 4). Going unmentioned but not unnoticed are the 3 sets of siblings matside for the Middies: Jared and Connor Prince, Scout and Tanner Skidgel, and Cody and Kyle Trybus. Navy is in a rock solid relationship with the Scuffle, showing up and showing out in 15 of the 16 years of the tournament’s history. Also worth noting, All-Name team member Aslan Kilic. Yes, Aslan wrestles for Navy. GIVE.UP.ALREADY.
Lock Haven, minus star 184lb Corey Hazel, lost to love in the offseason 197lb Tristan Sponseller, AND backside upsets suffered by Alex Klucker and Jared Siegrist, finished 6th, one spot short of a Scribe prediction. And last years Scuffle injury to star hvwt Thomas “Hit Man” Haines was repitame, que lastima, as Haines headed out of the tournament with a backside forfeit. 4 Bald Eagles placed, the most ever, and 165lb Chance Marstellers finals showdown with fellow unbeaten and 2x Nat. Champ Vincenzo Joseph was the feature match of the evening. A down to the end 6-5 match got away from Chance as he couldnt escape Vincenzos final ride…this time. IF Lock Haven heals fully, physically and mentally, by March, theyre a top 15 lock. IF. C’mon, Tristan, isn’t that honeymoon over yet? Give Jason Nolf a call, he can help.
Spots 7 through 10 went to Duke, Ohio University, VA Tech, and Cal St. Bakersfield. 11th place finisher Northern Colorado had a surprise finalist in now down at 125lb senior Rico Montoya, and the Bears have to be buoyed by the showing by oft injured 197lb Jacob Seely. The Scribes beloved SoCon came through with 5 placers. UTC (GO MOCS!) had 125lb Alonzo Allen take 5th and 141lb Chris Debien get 6th. The App. St. trio of Matt Zovitovski, Alan Clothier and Randall Diabe all made the podium. The suspicion here is that had Campbell come, the Camels would have placed four, 5 counting unattached hvwt. Jere Heino. Cary Kolats team was busy making waves at the Midlands. A trend? Hope not. Finally, a nod must go out to the team from Arkansas-Little Rock, all 1 of them. True freshman Conner Ward dropped his own dime and a LOT more to make the Scuffle the fourth and final tournament he was allowed to compete in in this, his 1st season as a Little Rock Trojan.
JUST SOME STUFF
That tremendously loud and incredibly far away thud you just heard was #1 ranked Heavyweight Amar Dhesi of Oregon State getting poleaxed 11-4 by true freshman Mason Parris of Michigan. In Oregon. In Dhesis first match back in his 6th year senior campaign. In Parris first official match in the Maize and Blue after shedding his redshirt. As the Wolverines clubbed the Beavers 33-8. What Wolverines really do to Beavers you do NOT want to know. Kind of like that score, but with entrails in visual. LOOK AT THE BONES, MAN!
3 East Coast teams went way out west as American, Army West Point and North Carolina hit the mats in Laramie today for a triple dual meet hosted by the Wyoming Cowboys. Mark Branchs bunch just went 3-1 at the South Beach Duals with a criteria win over #4 NC State. Then, they swept their three foes today and will probably hover just outside the top 10 team rankings next week. This 2019 Brown and Gold group just may grow into Branchs best ever by tournament time.
LIKE MANNA FROM HEAVEN
OK, thats a bit much, but…without any real expectation of a reply, a phone call was placed to one of the shining lights of the wrestling scene, and, voila, it happened. As is so often the case when the TRULY great cross paths with the regular folk, in about 5 minutes, you feel like you’re visiting an old friend. Looking at you, David Mirikitani. The All American wrestler-top end coach/martial arts star/veterans fundraiser/wrestling writer/reporter/broadcaster/sage spent 20 minutes on a crystal clear speakerphone call with the Scribe covering everything from Rob Herrmanns high school career to this weeks Scuffle coaching duties. Or it could have been an hour. It was special. Mirikitani laughed when he heard the last time the Scribe was this excited to talk to a guy, it was a one on one with then soda exec Steve Fraser, he of Greco Roman Olympic Gold Medal fame. To be accurate, there WAS a bit more excitement for the Tracie Ruiz interview. Among other appropriate things she wore that smile. THAT interview went well…possibly. As the station staff was 90% male, we were off air for a while. Sigh. Digression, sorry not sorry. As to Mr, rather, David, well, he is tops. Hopefully, an interview and links to his excellent work will be featured in future columns.
See you next week!
@Valley Girl joke punchline