COUNTRY AND COUNTYWIDE CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES, FABULOUS FREESTYLE FEMALES, USA TAKES THE WORLD FOR A (TURKISH) BATH, AND KUDOS FOR A DUO….
Yet another belated Happy Holiday, hope your 4th of July was wonderful. Please always remember the efforts of the tens of millions of American Patriot citizen/soldiers that brought that day and this country to you and yours.
CHANGE IS IN, STAFFS ARE OUT IN FARGO & COLUMBIA
At least partially, or, actually, a bit more than than. Out NDSU way the Bisons head man Roger Kish has welcomed former NCSt. assistant and Wolfpack RTC honcho Obenson Blanc to the Fargo fold as head assistant coach. Wither Jarrod Garnett, former assistant and VA Tech alum?(1) Unsure as of this writing. Also uncertain is the status of volunteer assistant Coach Gage Hutchison, the former EMU heavyweight, and assistant coach Matt Nagel. Neither Garnetts nor Nagels number was in service as of this writing. NDSU is the host for the long, long Fargo Freestyle/Greco tournament for young men and women, and coaches from all over are in town for evaluation/encouragement. The media pros have responded. The underrated, understated Earl Smith of the Open Mat cornered several coaches for comments, one of them Blanc, who said several minutes of very little but peppered it with enthusiasm and appreciation. NDSU had a serious uptick in their regular season peformance, from 2017-18s 7-10 to a 10-6 run last season. Post season, 3 wrestlers made the semi finals of the greatly improved Big 12 Tournament (hope to see you in Tulsa next year!) and 4 Bison qualified for the NCAA Championships. Sadly, no AA Kudos for Kishs crew again, and that had to be an awkward end to a fairly fine season. So….
Down (from Fargo, that is, decidely UP from summery San Antonio, site of these postings) mighty Mizzou had their 5th straight Top 10 finish at the NCAAS, another season with multiple multiple All Americans (men who had already earned AA status repeating that lofty achievement), yet another pair of conference regular season and tournament titles, and a 16-1 dual meet mark. Wowzers. So what happened in Columbia this off-season? Well, just the departure of Head Coach Brian Smiths entire brain and brawn trust in the span of just a few months. GONE: Alex Clemsen, off for the challenge of his coaching career as the new head honcho at Maryland. GONE: multiple Missouri All American and coach Alan Waters, to who knows were. GONE: Coach, former 2 time Iowa All American and goatee G.O.A.T. nominee Joe Johnston, now the Associate Head Coach at the Air Force Academy. (The aforementioned Smith captured a couple of minutes with the matter of fact Johnston at Fargo as well. Like Calvin Coolidge miking up Marcel Marceau.)* Now usually, wholesale changes are an indication that things are going downhill at an increasing pace and somebody somewhere is trying to hang on to a job. At Missouri, NOT SO MUCH. Coach Smith and his afore mentioned acolytes engineered a wrestling Renaissance in Columbia roughly akin to what Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo and company did for Europe in its heyday back in the day day. Please, no turtle jokes, either, just a deep bow, tip of the headgear, and a gracious “Good Luck” to all the departed. And, we might add, put out the welcome mat for former Michigan 3X AA Tyrel Todd, former Mizzou 2xAA Dom Bradley, and former Oklahoma National champ, 3X AA Kendric Maple, as Associate Head Coach, Volunteer Assistant, and Assistant, respectively.
USA WOMENS FREESTYLE TEAM HOTTER THAN A RISING SUN
Well, September in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, is where the Gold Medal team battle between the USA and Japan will really be settled, but for now the Ladies repping the Red, White, and Blue are flying as high as our flag while the majority of their international opponents are stuck with basic black (and blue). Most recent beat down delivered by the USA ladies, 65kgs Forrest Molinaris thumping of the field at the prestigious Yasar Dogu tournament in Istanbul recently. Molinari moved from the number 4 to the number 2 spot in the world rankings with her tourney title. Follow the CA native on twitter @mynameis_jungle and Instagram @forrest_aka_snowflake. Not to tout one of our fabulous competitors over the other, it’s just two of the best handles around from this viewpoint. Molinari was our only National team member in competition in Turkey, but our entire womens team will be bringing the heat to the city formerly known as Astana in just a few months. Some things to be aware of: awesome American 76kg star Adeline Gray will be aiming at her 5th World Title in 9 years on Team USA. She and Canadas Instagram star, Olympic Champ Erica Wiebe, have quite the Bi-Border rivalry. Toss in 2017 World Champ Yasemin Adar of Turkey, and you’ve got a 76kg three way scrum that should bring the house down. The Scribe doesn’t begin to pretend knowledge of the Womens scene World-wide…yet. Just want to drop a few nuggets and have more opps to shamelessly plug the U. S. of A. Speaking of which, here’s our womens roster for the Championships:
50KG: Whitney Conder, WCAP. 53KG: Sarah Hildebrandt, NYAC. 55KG: Jacarra Winchester, TMWC 57KG: Jenna Burkert, TMWC. 59KG: Alli Ragan, SUKWC. 62KG: Kayla Miracle, SUKWC. 65KG: Forrest Molinari, HWC. 72KG: Victoria Francis, TMWC. 76KG: Adeline Gray, NYAC.
For some deep knowledge dives on our wonderful women please give a listen to OTM, On The Mat Podcast, Episode 576, where Andy Hamilton and Kyle Klingman of TrackWrestling double team USA Head Womens Wrestling Coach Terry Steiner. And here’s a few more notes on abbreviations, so you’ll know what groups are leading the charge for our ladies. (And perhaps where to send a spare ducat** or three to show your support…)
WCAP-World Class Athletes Program, through the U.S. Armed Forces NYAC-New York Athletic Club TMWC-Titan Mercury Wrestling Club. SUKWC- Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club HWC-Hawkeye Wrestling Club.
Shout out also to The Rudis, a wrestling based company in Ohio for its signings this year of Sarah and Kayla as endorsed athletes. Sarah, Hildebrandt@sarhilde, is a 2x World Silver Medalist, while Miracle, @miraculouskc, won 4 National championships at Campbellsville.
USA DONE GOOD AT THE DOGU
It was more than just a Molinari masterpiece that was on display in Istanbul. Pretty much the whole U.S. team rocked and rolled to 6 Golds and a Silver, a collective 7 out of 9. That’s fine like Jeri Ryan, don’t you know. Question here is why did 74kg American Superstar Jordan Burroughs get a forfeit finals victory over one of his two current main rivals, Frank Chamizo? You KNOW Jordan was ready to go. HATE the gamesmanship, not the gamer. So, here’s the answer as the Scribe gleaned from the excellent website and Twitter feed of USA Wrestling and Flowrestling and the not-as-excellent sites of U.W.W., United World Wrestling…..Jordan had the upper hand and would be seeded higher at the World Championships if (WHEN) he beat Chamizo at the Yasar Dogu. They both took care of business and were to meet in the finals. Chamizo didn’t want to chance dropping to the #3 seed at the World Championships, so rather than risk losing to JB, Chamizo…..fill in the blanks. Meh. In the final evaluation, they’re both great. And Jordan will be revered as one of the G.O.A.T.s*** of wrestling. Chamizo, a Chamois****. Other excellent American results: defending 92kg World Champion J’den Cox DESTROYED EVERYBODY and won the tourney title. Final combined score, J’den 42, rest of the World, same points as a dead man. For those who, like the Scribe, are mathematically challenged, that total would be ZERO. Kyle “Captain America” Snyder shut out some disrespectful Iranian for the 97 kg Gold. At 79kg, Alex Dieringer mowed down his weight class, tuning up for his best of 3 showdown with World Champ Kyle Dake for a spot on the U.S. World team. Yianni Diakomihalis takes the 65 kg title, smacking around U.S. World Team rep (for now?)*****Zain Retherford in the first round.
FIRST HAND FORUM: CHURCHILL HEAD COACH BRIAN HAWKINS
A change has occured at the Scribes (work) home high school as highly successful Coach Clarkson has moved onto a position at Smithson Valley. Sliding ably in is new head Wrestling Coach, and former assistant, Brian Hawkins. Coach Hawkins noted “tons of interest” from his incoming freshmen class and expressed hope of tapping into the middle schools “in the near future.” All good things, and heres more, in the Coaches own words:…..
EVEN THOUGH ITS THE OLDEST SPORT, WRESTLING SEEMS TO BE ENJOYING A REVIVAL. DO YOU AGREE, AND IF SO, WHY?
I agree. I actually think that the attempt to have wrestling removed from the Olympics had a huge positive impact on its popularity. Wrestling is a brotherhood, and the attempt to destroy the sport made the wrestling community stand up and take action. The sport was put in a position where changes had to be made to adapt to the modern audience. You have seen rule changes that force more exciting action. (As) a higher number of young athletes are being attracted by what they see when they watch the sport, we are starting to see an explosion in the level of athlete that begins wrestling at a younger age. And I only expect this trend to continue. Wrestling is growing again.
WHAT DID YOU EXPECT WHEN YOU TOOK THE JOB AT CHURCHILL AND WHERE ARE YOU AND THE PROGRAM NOW IN RELATION TO THESE EXPECTATIONS?
Churchill has a winning tradition, and had just come off a fantastic run with a few truly elite wrestlers. But, all those kids had just graduated. The program was very small. There were only 3 boys and 1 girl left with any varsity experience. And the rest of the kids knew very little useful wrestling technique. We quickly realized we had a big time rebuild on our hands. The goal for our first year was to build fundamental skills and grow the size of our program. By the end of the year, the kids had bought into the program. The goal for the second year was to transform our program from a team of individuals into a family unit. Those bonds and relationships are essential to team accountability and success. In year number three, the goal was a district championship. Over the course of our first three years here, our girls have improved from 34th in the region to a best finish of 7th. Our boys have improved from 7th in the district and 18th in the region to reigning District Champions and 3rd in the region. In our first year, we had six district medalists, eight regional qualifiers (one medalist) and one state qualifier. In our third year, we had 10 district medalists, 14 regional qualifiers, (seven medalists), five state qualifiers, and two state medalists. Up to this point, I think we have accomplished all of our short-term goals. Our ultimate goal is to put this program in a place where we can sustain this success over a long period. Our graduating class has built that foundation. We will not win a championship every year but we have an entire team full of capable wrestlers. I think our coolest accomplishment to date is our performance in duals over the last two years. Our girls are 15-6 in that span, while only filling half the weight classes most of the time. Our varsity boys are 19-1, with our loss coming to regional runner-up Lake Travis by only 3 points. Our kids love the team aspect of wrestling. they love rooting for and coaching each other. They are unselfish and completely invested in the success of their teammates. We love competing in tournaments but we consider ourselves a dual team and we take great pride in competing together. I truly believe there is not a program around that can match our family bond. I think that is what separates Churchill and that is why this program will have continued success in the future.
IS WRESTLING A TOUGH “SELL” TO YOUR ADMINISTRATION AND/OR STUDENT BODY, AND IF YOU SEE IT THAT WAY, WHY?
Our administration has given us tremendous support since day one. Our Athletic Director, Coach Ron Harris, is our biggest fan and does everything he can to support us. He has been instrumental in helping us build our program. We also get tremendous support from our football program, which is critical to our success. Our new principal, Mr. Todd Bloomer, has also been incredibly supportive of our program. We are truly blessed to receive the support that we do from our administration. When our staff arrived, it seemed the majority of our student body did not know that Churchill had a wrestling team. But over time, our kids have done a fantastic job of building a brand for themselves in our school. They take care of business in the classroom, stay out of trouble, and they are just overall good people. I think teachers, administrators, and other students appreciate and admire that. Our support in the student body has grown each year and I expect that to continue.
HOW DOES WRESTLING HELP YOUR STUDENT ATHLETES?
Where do I begin? for one, I believe that all sports teach very important life lessons and skills to young people. I do not think it is even debatable that wrestling develops more of those life skills than any other sport. Wrestling teaches young people how to be independent. It builds accountability in one’s actions (and inactions). The ownership of responsibility for your own success carries over to all aspects of life. Practices and competition can be brutal at times. You are forced to develop mental toughness. You fail repeatedly but you learn a lesson from each failure until you succeed. Then your confidence skyrockets. This self-confidence carries over off the wrestling mat as well. You are forced to develop leadership skills as you take younger wrestlers under your wing and show them the ropes. You make sacrifices nobody else your age has to make, and so later in life, you understand why sometimes you must sacrifice something you want in the short term so that you can have something you need in the long term. The sport requires self discipline. You must develop a strong work ethic. You will learn that effort always pays off, and that outworking your peers opens doors for you later in life. The most amazing thing is that all of these things carry over to other aspects of your life. When a young person becomes a wrestler, they will also become a better student and a better athlete.
SAN ANTONIO IS THE 7TH BIGGEST CITY IN THE COUNTRY IN AN ATHLETICS-CENTRIC STATE. HOW CAN WE LEVERAGE OUR SIZE AND STATUS TO GROW WRESTLING IN THE CITY/COUNTY/REGION/STATE?
The city of San Antonio does not have enough wrestling programs. The Greater San Antonio area has less than 15 wrestling programs at the 6A level. (TXs largest school classification). The city of Huston has almost 50. Dallas and Fort Worth combined also have nearly 50. Starting up new programs has a cost. I am self-aware enough to understand that I do not know what that cost is or where that money is going to come from. I do know that until the other school districts in this city offer wrestling, it is going to be very difficult to grow the sport. I think that North East ISD has proven that the cost of wrestling is worth the price. Wrestling puts as many NEISD kids on the state medal podium as any other sport. Beyond that, my answer to question #4 covers the other reason why more school districts should consider adding wrestling programs. We should always strive to do what is best for the kids, and I think wrestling is part of that.
A COUPLE OF GUYS WHO GOT NOTICED
And it was about time, as the National Wrestling Media Association, founded in 1989, dropped a couple of “Good on yers, mates” on two of the Scribes most favorite folks in the fine art of wrestling coverage. Journalist of the Year went to the Des Moines (IA) Registers Cody Goodwin, who somehow manages to keep track of nearly 400 squads at every level from kiddos to team USA and does so with a humble greatness, a keen eye, and a speed and grace that belies his bulk. Its ok, bulk is acceptable in wrestling coverage. Theres more to love with upperweights than lightweights, and in the world of wrestling writing, Cody would put a wind up Alexander Karelins back. Division I SID of the Year Award went to Brian Reinhardt of NC State. Pretty much the only thing more entertaining than highlights from a Wolfpack dual meet victory is the interplay between Brian and Wolfpack Alpha Male/Head Coach Pat Popolizio as they invent ever cleverer repartee on the PackMentality Pop-Ins podcast. Its like listening to Don Rickles and Buddy Hackett warming up to roast each other. Maybe NOT that intense, but fun, fun, fun. Brian brings in guests from all aspects of Wolfpack wrestling past, present, and future. Congrats, guys, and well deserved!
See you next month!
- CORRECTION X DEAUX-the extraordinarily talented and equally well spoken Garnett was an All American at Va Tech, not Cornell as the Scribe misrote in the original posting. And, Jarod has taken his considerable skills to Rider, greatly augmenting Coach Hangeys staff. MUCHO thanks to the Takedown Wrestling Radio crew for Garnetts career update. As to the school misidentification, the Scribe promises 2 full sets of stadium steps at Lane the next time in Blacksburg. Promise.
*Coolidge was famously known for being a President of few words. Marceau was the extraordinary French Mime/Actor who brought the house down in Mel Brooks classic comedy “Silent Movie.” And Earl says more with less than just about anybody.
**Ducat: semi-synonymous with discretionary income, small show of support, contribution, etc…..spell-corrects to Ducati, an amazing motorcycle line. Hoping our team sticks to Harleys, though. ‘Murica!
***Greatest Of All Time, the ultimate title of respect for the Best of the Best in ANY category. In wrestling, think Gilgamesh, Milo of Croton, Gama the Great. For comedy, think Redd Foxx or The Marx Brothers. For dessert, think the Scribes sisters ABC (Apple/Blueberry/Cherry) pie. SON…..
****An elusive, highly maneuverable European quadruped that gets skinned regularly.
*****Retherford beat out Diakomihalis for the U.S. team spot at 65kg in a HIGHLY controversial 2 match set just a month ago, and a formal protest/call for a rematch has justly been lodged.