SECOND SEASON COLUMN 25

AN INCOMPLETE “GRADE”-IATION: SOME Cs, NO Ds, AND AN E FOR EFFORT, CHARGERS N RATTLERS N JAGUARS N PANTHERS N COYOTES OH MY, PLUS….WINE!

The pre post-season news continues from Column 24 with the following….

CAL-ST. BAKERSFIELD-…WOW! It’s a simple word, 1 syllable, three letters, but it means the world for Coach Manny Rivera and his Roadrunners. The former Minnesota All American built his coaching chops up in Minneapolis, in Charlottesville with UVA, and with a 5 yr stint at North Dakota State. Rivera experienced success everywhere but came way out West to come home. Bakersfield had lost their rebuilder coach, Mike Mendoza, who swallowed a Boise St. lie and moved to Idaho. Then the Broncos President eliminated his tradition-rich wrestling program, but thats ANOTHER column. BTW, hows that Baseball team that you destroyed wrestling for coming along, Boise? We digress. Back to Coach Manny and the Fabulous Bakersfield Boys, 2019 version. Hows this WOW? Half the team ranked nationally. Or this one? The Roadrunners are the Kings of California wrestling, they SWEPT their Golden State opponents this season. Or this WOW? 5 freshly hatched ‘Runners, 4 freshmen and a Sophomore, found a podium perch at the California Open. Open the Roadrunners guide/record book on line and you can feel the pride pour out, dozens of pages worth of National Champions, tournament titles, All Americans, Olympic level competitors, and on and on. Add one more WOW to this seasons bunch- they’re ALL of them, the whole team, from California.

CAL POLY- theres tough, theres double tough, and then theres finding success at Cal Poly. Whoa Nellie, the Mustangs had a season to forget as Coach Jon Sioredas (please, its suh-REE-dus), new head assistant coach Chris Chionuma, and assistant Mike Hatcher saw their charges start the season with a second place showing at the Menlo Open. To the home team. An NAIA home team. A really good NAIA team. But an NAIA team. It got worse fast. 39th at the CKLV. 29th at the Midlands. Back to Menlo for another tournament, where they finished 9th. 10th at the California Open. Cal Poly competes as an affiliate member in the PAC 12. They went 0-4 in the 5 team conference, being outscored 125-30. So, whats to like? 197lb Tom Lanes 6th place finish at the Midlands. If Lane wins the PAC 12 tournament he will hit Pittsburgh with 20 victories and a little momentum. A 2019 recruiting class ranked 8th in the country with four top 100 wrestlers, 9 of them home grown CA talent. And an incredible academic showing, with Cal Poly earning a top 8 spot in the NCAAs Academic Progress Rate two years running. That shows Sioredas and crew are truly producing STUDENT-athletes. Cal Poly will move on after the post season to brighter days, bigger win totals, and better showings all around. BTW, mark March 16th on your calendar and send prayers and pleasant thoughts to the Cal Poly family as they hold a celebration of life for Pat Lovell. Lovell, the striking, silver haired ambassador of CP wrestling and 1964 USA Olympian, went home Nov. 29th last year at the age of 81. A moving tribute can be found on the Mustangs web site. As for the current crew, SHOUT OUT, 125lb Brandon Staley, Oviedo, FL, Winter Springs.

CAMPBELL-The #RollHumps crew from Buies Creek, North Carolina finished as regular season tri-champs in the Southern Conference, tied with App St. and the Scribes dear, not near enough, team, UTC. Campbell set up their season with 6 tournaments from November through Januarys first weekend and the Camels earned a whopping 27 podium finishes. The biggest step up was not 1, not 2, but 3 Camels placing at the Midlands, something no Campbell wrestler had ever accomplished. Their one dual match in the seasons 1st half resulted in a solid 19-13 win over a tough Ohio Bobcats squad. The only blemish all season long was an 18-12 conference loss to….(D*mn objectivity!) Kyle Ruschells UTC Mocs. 174lb Andrew Morgan and the lightweight trio of 133lb Noah Gonser, 141lb Nathan Boston, and 149lb Josh Heil will all come out of the SoCon tournament as 20+ match winners (Morgan and Heil are there already). They all have good shots at a trip to Nationals. Boston and 197lb Austin McNeil are the only starters not returning and, with quality redshirts and a 40+ man roster, these Camels have depth they can depend on. A media star coach*, a top flight new facility, and the confidence that comes from a near perfect regular season (who WAS that who beat them? Thats right…) the Camels are coming, the Camels are coming!** So nice we starred it twice. SHOUT OUT, 184lb Cole Maddox, Marianna, FL, 141lb Troy Nation, Land’O Lakes, FL, Tampa Prep, 174lb Quentin Perez, Arlington, TX, John Weiss, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, St Thomas Aquinas.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN-So theres this team in the Mitten State thats PDG at wrestling. They flat OWNED their league before Missouri bought the Mid American Conference penthouse a few years back. While the past six seasons have seen fairly predictable conclusions come MAC tournament time, the Chippewas just seemed a little less formidable as time went on. Coach Tom Borelli noted changes he made and admitted to some he should have made sooner in a long form preseason piece, and as usual the multi decade master of the Chippewas matmen was spot on. There were athletes who just didnt pan out and others who wanted to conclude their search for wrestling gold in other waters. Made for some choppy seasons by old Lake Gitche Gumee***, but CMU seems to have steadied the canoe. They balanced tough out of conference losses to BIG 12 NDSU and the ACCs up and coming Virginia with wins over BIG 10 teams Maryland and a regular season ending upset of Purdue. Only ODU and mighty Missouri put the wood to Central this season, but what perhaps hurt most were back to back defeats to bitter rival Ohio University and a first time EVER loss to Buffalo. By 4 points. Total. GAAHH! All the while, 184lb Jordan Atienza, the squads lone sr., is finishing a 5 yr battle with adversity of all sorts while imparting the most important of wrestling truths to his young teammates. Its not how you start, its how you FINISH.^ CMUs best finisher last yr, this yr, and seemingly for at least 2 years to come is 285lb Matt Stencel. The Scribe has been sky high on the building-sized building block of Borellis rejuvenation plan since catching his early efforts last season. Mighty Matt had a 28 win, 15 pin season while winning a conference title. As a redshirt freshman heavyweight. YO. He takes a 24-4 record and a 15 match win streak into the MAC tournament this month. 157lb Logan Parks and 125lb Drew Hildebrandt (brother of World Silver Medalist Sarah Hildebrandt) could join Stencel in the 20 win, NCAA qualifier club this season. Its a long shot for Atienza, but dont count him out this yr, and count on CMU coming back strong going forward.

CLARION-a 3 match win streak to start 2019 ended with a 5 outing alternation of losses and victories for the Golden Eagles, and they finished 7-7. Frankly, any chance Coach Keith Ferraros squad had at making significant squawks this campaign went away early when uber tough 141lb Taylor Ortz and superstar 149lb Brock Zacherl both went down in a heap at the CKLV tournament first week of December. Ortz and Zacherl swapped wt classes from 2018, when Taylor had challenged teammate Greg Bulsak for EWL Freshman of the Year honors and Zacherl, undefeated till last Marchs conference finals, made his 3rd st. trip to Nationals. The back to back bangers were declared done for the season mid December and are aiming for medical redshirts to return in 2020. Great for next year. This year thats 20 dual meet wins, multiple tournament placements and points, and most importantly, a heart and soul temporarily (we hope) shelved. 184lb Tyler Bagoly and 197lb Bulsak (of 615lb deadlift fame), meet pressure. They did, and did well, but two tough guys out of four still equals half strength. In the EWL, with Lock Haven soaring and Rider rising, thats not enough. Not with a schedule that included contenders from 3 Power 5 Conferences and MAC force Buffalo to boot. YEEESH. 7-7 actually looks pretty good from that vantage point. Hey, Coach Ferraro, its the PAC 12 and the Indian Pro League on conference call. Put em on hold? With a Turk ride to a Claw? A Golden Eagles favorite combo. BTW, The Scribe and Bride encountered a Golden Eagle once, driving on the outskirts of a tiny N Central TX town in the aftermath of a small but violent tornado. The post-storm gloom barely revealed trunk shattered trees and huge fenceposts askew. Then, one of the fenceposts looked back, spreading MASSIVE wings. Awesome, and a bit, just a bit, unsettling. #MetalencasedmammalsRsafe/maybe.As regards the PA flock, nobody threatened the 20 win plateau but Bulsak will get there with a good EIWA run, earning a trip to Nationals in the process. Who else? Maybe 125lb Tyshawn White, maybe/maybe Bagoly. SHOUT OUT, 174lb Max Wohlabaugh, Winter Springs, FL.

COLUMBIA-Zach Tanellis Lions roared through the year, tying a team win record with 10 victories. They opened up with fine showings at multiple tournaments culminating with 4 Lions earning break even or winning records at the Southern Scuffle. A sturdy blend of numbers (29) states (11 different present on the roster, from CA. to MD. and FL. to NY., with MO. and TX. repping the Mid and Southwest) and grades****(8 srs, 5 jrs, 7 sophs, with 9 Lion Cub freshmen) has Columbia poised to pounce. Just one thing: KEEP the ubercool color scheme but change that mascot design, please. The grinning blue Lionface is just a tat too anthropomorphic; “he” looks like hes laughing while eating you. Maybe that’s the point? SHOUT OUT, Riley Jacobs, Austin, TX, Vandegrift, Lawrence Kosoy, Boca Raton, FL, Olympic Heights.

CORNELL-They’re big, they’re bad, they’ll beat you, bigly and badly, and they have, next to Lehighs group, some of the most knowledgeable and entertaining fans to sit next to. Though at times you’ll feel that they are slightly disappointed in your lack of wrestling knowledge and your socio-political worldview. But they are too polite to express either opinion. They will probably recapture the EIWA tournament title from Lehigh and they will finish in the top 10 nationally without question. They have a defending national champion, 141lb Yianni Diakomihalis, who is undefeated this year after winning his title last year with a destroyed knee. They have 5 other legitimate All American hopefuls with a 2018 season AA wrestler not even starting. Their brilliant, sardonic, trend-setting coach, Rob Koll, has built and maintained a wrestling Empire in Ithaca, New York for nearly 2 dozen years. That means they’re one of “The Big Boys”, so that’s more than enough about you and your team in THIS column, sir. And please say hello to Assistant Coach Gabe Dean, who bowled over the Scribe at the 2015 Southern Scuffle with his on mat ferocity and off mat geniality.

WHAT DO CHARGERS, RATTLERS, JAGUARS, COYOTES AND PANTHERS EAT?

Whatever they want, and that regularly seems to be BBQ. Whether theyre local school athletes from Churchill, Reagan, and Johnson, down the road a piece warriors from Uvalde, or up from the Valley matmen and women from Weslaco, they seem to like stopping by that big old friendly SA BBQ restaurant on Blanco Road. The food is good, fast, and filling, the atmosphere friendly, and all those who give their all out on the mat will always get an all out welcome. Like the Churchill middleweight who cruised into regionals his first yr. on varsity. Or the promising Reagan lightweight who was prepping hard at off season summer tournaments. Or the busload of Panthers from down Weslaco way who celebrated their hard work and post season success (3 state qualifiers and a regional champ!) on a recent visit. Gentlemen and Ladies, continue to carry the torch for TX wrestling, and remember you’re always welcome inside, or outside under the trees. No desserts till off season, though. Coaches orders.

*Catch Cary on the “Ask Kolat” podcast and his teamwork with Matt Dernlan on “The Way”, both put out by RUDIS wrestling.

**A nod to a GREAT Cold War Comedy, “The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming”. Vladimir Putin and Natalia Veselnitskayas favorite.

^BIG credits to Andy Sneddon, master wordsmith of all things CMU. We are paraphrasing his words, and perhaps parroting his season ending article and continuous excellence, but these thoughts needed spreading.

***Applause and a free dessert to the first customer at that (getting a little bit) famous San Antonio BBQ restaurant who can tell the Scribe the author or the main character of this referenced EPIC American poem.

****School yr designation, NOT letter. C’mon, its Columbia. These guys could run circles around most folks GPA with half a decimal point shift.

NEW SEMI OCCASIONAL FEATURE:

WINE-DING DOWN W/ THE SCRIBE

Beringer Brothers 2016 Bourbon Barrel Aged Caberbet Sauvignon. RATING: 4 glasses. NO, NOT ALL THE SAME NIGHT, PLEASE. Put those goblets DOWN, Hoda and Kathy Lee.

See you early next week!

Ted Carreras