PRE-POST SEASON NEWS N NOTES, (NOWHERE NEAR) ENOUGH HIGH SCHOOL HURRAHS, AND A LOONG LIST OF PROS IN THE KNOW…..
The amazing multi month mashup of blood, sweat, tears, triumph and, unfortunately this season, tragedy, in D1 wrestling wrapped up this past weekend. Here and in the next column or two (or 3) there’ll be a brief summary of a number of teams 2018-19 seasons and a shot at where they might be going post season and beyond.
AIR FORCE ACADEMY-the Falcons flew an F-111 season, not on anybodys radar but finishing with a winning record and seemingly a little momentum for the Big 12 tournament. Easily the highlights for the Colorado Springs crew were a second week of the season win over Fresno State and a second place team trophy at the All Academy Championships. The Falcons were buzzsawed mid-season by national powerhouses Wyoming, Northern Iowa, and Oklahoma State when AFA scored just 12 points total in a 3 match losing streak. There’s no 20 match winners this year, but all of the Falcons first place tournament finishers are underclassmen. Good for Coach Sam Barber and the teams future. The future for all of us will be a little bit safer when Academy seniors Josh Boyle, Luke Giorgio, Isaac Jimenez (SHOUT OUT, El Paso, TX, Coronado), Alex Lopouchanski (SHOUT OUT, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Cardinal Gibbons), Anthony McLaughlin, Alex and Josh Mossing, Adam Pelter, and John Twomey step off the graduation stage and into their respective assignments. Gentlemen, thank you in advance and please remember there’s a (really) good BBQ restaurant in San Antonio where you are ALWAYS welcome. And where there’s a 10% off recognition plan for military service in place. Because we don’t “discount” who you are and what you stand for. We RECOGNIZE. And, in keeping with columnar tradition of noting matmen from 2 of the Scribes adopted home states, SHOUT OUT TO: Jack Johnson, Niceville (FL).
AMERICAN UNIVERSITY-not to beat the aerial theme to death but somebody needs to clear a runway at the EIWA tournament because the Eagles are coming in HOT. Coach Teague Moores AU squad won their last 5 duals and 7 of their last 8. They’re tournament tested this season as well. In fact the Eagles entered 9, count em, 9, events from the East Stroudsburg Open Nov. 10th to the Wilkes Open Dec. 22nd. YOWZA. Hope they got frequent flyer miles or at least mileage compensation. Just 3 seniors, 2 of them starters, said goodbye to the AU faithful with a win over tough Old Dominion. 133lb national qualifier Josh Terao (20-4) will finish with 100 plus victories. While he can’t match brother Davids AU win record (130) and probably won’t get a senior season All American finish like the elder Terao did, David and 141lb senior Jack Mutchnik (26-9) should both earn a trip to Pittsburgh. Previous national qualifier 149lb Michael Sprague, tough young hvwt Niko Camacho and hard charging 184lb Tanner Harvey (23-9, an NJCAA champ with a team leading 9 pins) are long shots for the trip to the Steel City for Nationals. Que lastima, this is Spragues last go round, but Niko, Tanner, and a young, hard working group of true student-athletes (14 states represented on the roster, BTW) are on the wing, aiming for new heights. SHOUT OUT to 133lb Daniel Kidd, Dallas, TX, Lake Highland, and from FL, 174lb Connor Allshouse, Largo Indian Rocks Christian and 157lb Kizhan Clarke (24-10), Gibsonton Riverview.
APPALACHIAN STATE-5 App St. seniors made the climb to the SoCon Mountain top 4 years ago, and they must have liked the view because they’ve gone back each year since. Make that a quartet of regular season conference titles for Coach John Mark Bentleys crew, either outright or shared as this years was (with Campbell and the Scribes beloved UTC Mocs). 197lb Randall Diabe, 165lb Irvin Elliott, 157lb Angel Najar, and 141lb Irvin Enriquez are starters with 133lb Thierry Washington backing up all conference Codi Russell. The finishing 5 are all North Carolina men to boot, as are 17 of App States 28 rostered wrestlers and 7 of 10 starters overall. Point here is Coach Bentley, a 4x undefeated NC HS champ and 3X ACC champ while wrestling at UNC, has an eye for homegrown talent. Diabe, 149lb Matt Zovitovski, Elliott and hvywt Cary Miller all have 20 or more wins. They and the rest of the Mountaineers should be favored to take the SoCon tournament title when its contested come March 10th in App States home gym in Boone, NC. Is there an All American spot to be earned by one of this years ‘Eers? Probably not, but the next Austin Trotman or Denzel Dejournette is more than likely on the roster already and on his way up through the ranks.
ARIZONA STATE-as this column concerns itself 90+% with information on those schools not typically in the headlines, little will be said here about the Sun Devils or indeed most of their power 5 ilk. Suffice to note that ASU took the strategic high road for 3 GIGANTIC components of their 2x PAC 12 Championship team and sat them out this season. That and untimely injuries (the next time one is timely WILL be the first time) have ASU at 6-10 and, if not limping, using that pitchfork for purposes unintended heading into the post season. Can/will the Sun Devils make noise and grab individual hardware? Yes. Is there some kind of team trophy headed for the case? Its a 5 team Pac 12, sweetheart. You do the math. SHOUT OUT to: Austin Hosegood, Winter Garden, FL, Lake Gibson, William Pickren, Panama City Beach, FL, Arnold.
BINGHAMTON-featured in this seasons Columns 23 and 10, the Bearcats, straight outta Vestal, NY, are, in the words of 970 WFLA morning superhost Jack Harris, “hotter’n a pepper sprout.” They lost 3 straight duals to start, and then they stopped losing. Consecutive victories 9 and 10 came at the expense of Cleveland State and Kent St this past weekend with Binghamton busting out a 44 point total in the two big wins. The Bearcats set a team record with those 10 straight wins by BEING a team. Only 2 guys north of 20 ws, 141lb Anthony Sparacio and 184lb Louie DePrez. Only 2 guys on the roster not from NY state. Walkout music by Frank Sinatra and Billy Joel. Seriously, the Bearcats regular season strength will probably transform into post season…..not weakness, but not strength either. Getting more than 2 or 3 spots at Nationals would be a Roc-sized feather in the Brothers Borshoff (head coach Kyle, Associate HC Jasen) and Assistant Fred Garcias coaching caps. What do you do in year 2 when you won, and won, and won, in year 1? Coach K, Coach J and Freddy G. will sweat that out post EIWA tournament time. For right now, #Embracethegreen, baby.
BLOOMSBURG-current RUDIS Wrestling marketing maven/podcast cohost and former Penn State/Clarion/Binghamton coach Matt Dernlan opined recently that the Huskies were doing some good things and making progress this season. That sounded like whistling past the Pet Sematary to the Scribe, who looked at Bloomsburg and saw the following: A 3-13 record, 1 conference win, and 4 of the 5 straight season ending losses without a single double digit point total to call their own. NOT beating a dog (thats a shooting offense in these eyes) when its down. Just the facts, ma’am*. Or sir. As pretty much anyone/anything with better than 20/200 eyesight can probably make out. Then there’s 21, as in the nowhere near enough number of rostered wrestlers for a D1 program. Difficult to say who has the tougher job at this small PA school: 3rd year coaches Marcus Gordon and Russ Hughes, with so little to work with, or Sports Information Director David Leisering, with less and less success to trumpet. Give them all A’s for effort, but this seasons final grade is looking like, at BEST, an incomplete.
BROWN- the Bears, from Providence, Rhode Island, have been around. Since 1764 in fact, the 7th oldest U.S. College. Students from all 50 states and nearly 120 foreign countries can pursue 81 undergraduate, 32 Masters, and 51 Doctoral degrees. They’re not all THAT, though, they discontinued wrestling from 1940-46. (They had reasons). This season marks the 73rd in the return of the program Frank Herrick led into existence in 1906. Currently under the tutelage of former Nebraska 2x All American Todd Beckerman, the Bears made 2019 their 2nd winning season in 3 years. They finished with a four match win streak and had a champion and/or multiple place winners at every tournament they entered but one. Seniors 165lb Jonathan Viruet and 184lb CJ LaFragola have 5 team Captain designations between them as well as 59 wins. The Bears post season conference tournament, the EIWA, is second only to the Big 10 in quality and quantity of wrestling. Having said that, look for Beckermans little BIG bunch of overachievers to have at least Viruet and LaFragola qualify for the Nationals in Pittsburgh, with hvt Ian Butterbrodt (just 15-6, but on a 10 match win streak) possibly joining them.
BUCKNELL-its been a meh 7-11 season for Coach Dan Wirnsbergers Bison, winning and losing where one would expect. They finished middle of the pack at the Navy Classic, but showed up and showed out at the Midlands with a top 14 finish. They had an all time record crowd at Sjoka Pavilion this season when Penn St. came to town. The Bison won one match, about average against PSU, and Bucknell also got driven off the cliff by Pitt 34-4. February has become death by many small arrows, as 4 of the Bisons defeats in 6 duals were by 8 points or less. Like a cartoon Coyote Bucknell may be hungry (and thirsty!) for victories, but the water and food are coming out of WAY more holes than they should be. 157lb Zach Hartman and 197lb Drew Phipps have led the efforts this year, 20+ wins each and, even better, a combined 20-2 conference mark. Thats 2 who should be locks for a trip to the Nationals, and that’s good but not good enough. DW, get you a coupla tough TX wrasslers, snag another good PA powerhouse linchpin or 3, and you’n Coach Levalley tune ’em up and turn ’em loose, ya hear? Know ya can. Apologies, in searching for answers to the Bisons middle of the road meanderings this season the Scribe was briefly possessed by an avatar of John Smith. Get out of the road and your rut,** Bucknell!
*The catchphrase of Joe Friday, the original tough tv cop, on ”Dragnet.”
**Don’t go there. Just DONT.
See you later this week with more of the pre post season ABCs, etc…