2019 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
In the city formerly known as Astana, now Nur-Sultan, the proud people of Kazakhstan await the Worlds eyes as wrestlings global championships will be decided over the course of the next 10 days or so. Multitudes of experts in all communication fields have been fairly consistent in stating the USA mens Freestyle team is a medal lock. Just not for Gold. That shiny mantle looks like its Russias to lose, literally and figuratively, as they are the defending Mens champs. For the record, the Scribe has the US with a team silver and individual Golds from Jordan Burroughs, 74KG, Kyle Dake, 79KG and J’den Cox, 92KG. Silver looks like its within both Kyle Snyders (97KG) and Nick Gwaizdowskis (125KG) massive reach as well. Looks from here as if Daton Fix, 57KG, Tyler Graff, 61KG, Zain Retherford, 65KG, James Green, 70KG, and Pat Downey, 86KG, will win a match, or two, or even 3, but that these 5 will leave Nur-Sultan sans precious metal. That, though, would be a worthy tune-up for Americas medal stampede in Tokyo next year at the Olympics. Calling it now! Yeah, biased. 1st generation biased. So theres that.
As to our wonderful womens Freestyle team….they’ll be great. They’ll win medals. They’ll kick most everyone’s butt, but will finish outside the top 3. Probably. Maybe. The Mount Fuji that is the Japanese Womens World Team is too much mountain this time around, and you’d have to like the Ladies of the Rising Suns chances as hostesses next year as well. From 2021 on, well, we shall see. Amongst those quite knowledgeable with our womens teams, theres concern about an international lack of success from our Cadets and Juniors. Those 2 squads feature our non Senior level talent. Across every written and broadcast platform the Scribe has absorbed, and that’s quite a few, few answers are forthcoming. Other than 2X World Finalist Macy Kilty, our Juniors had a rough go of it in Bulgaria this past June. The younger age bracket Cadets had, however, their first EVER 3 finalist showing and hauled in 3 silvers and 2 bronzes. That’s progress. The tough young ladies overall record was super as well, if you ignore the 0-5 mark in matches against, you guessed it, Japan. So there’s the target. As previously stated, the Scribe will humbly defer to the expertise of the pros re our ladies history and current status and note this: monitor TakeDown Radio for their soon to begin Womens wrestling podcast and read the posts from Transition Wrestlings Gabrielle Lord-Klein for the latest ladies stuff. At this site we are spinning up to speed as fast as we can. Here again is our Senior Womens team, ready to rock the Khazakhs….and the Chinese, Canadians, Mongolians, Russians, Turks, Aizerbajanis, Cubans, French, and maybe a Japanese or two…..Whitney Conder, 50KG, Sarah Hildebrandt, 53KG, Jacarra Winchester, 55KG, Jenna Burkert, 57KG, Alli Ragan, 59KG, Kayla Miracle, 62KG, Forrest Molinari, 65KG, Tamyra Mensah-Stock, 68KG, Victoria Francis, 72KG, and Adeline Gray, 76KG. The gurus at Trackwrestling will stream the World Championships live, providing excellent coverage. Flowrestling sends their team to Nur-Sultan as well, so following options abound.
HEY, GRECO, S’UP?
The US Mens Greco Roman team remains, unfortunately, almost an afterthought on the World stage, as this hugely popular International style has never found a handhold in the American sports consciousness. This despite the USA having scored two of the biggest upsets in the history of ALL sports, team or individual, both occurring since the new century began. In 2007, the US Mens Greco Roman team won the World Championship.(1) That’s roughly akin to the USAs 1980 Gold Medal in Mens Hockey, only bigger. As to the individual, does the Rulon Gardner-Alexander Karelin match come to mind? SHOULD. WON’T. Not in 10 out of 100 THOUSAND randomly selected sports fans minds. Because when Gardner, the giant, barrel-bodied baby-faced brawler beat the unbeatable 13x World/Olympic titlist Karelin at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, it was incomprehensible. Impossible. Inconceivable, even. But, especially notable, it was “unbroadcasted”. That’s not a word, that’s a reality. This is the dilemma always facing Team USA Greco. Do good, do better, do great, don’t get noticed. And yet they labor on, in itself a mark of the highest of athletic ideals. Not for the glory. Not for the money. For the betterment of themselves and the sporting world around them. We salute you, Americas Greco Roman Warriors, even if we know you not. We know you ARE and we know what you stand for.
2019 TEAM USA GRECO ROMAN
Max Nowry, 55KG
Ildar Hafizov, 60KG
Ryan Mango, 63KG
Ellis Coleman, 67KG
Raymond Bunker, 72KG
Patrick Smith, 77KG
John Stefanowicz, 82KG
Joe Rau, 87KG
G’Angelo Hancock, 97KG
Adam Coon, 130KG
Outstanding bios, match videos, and competition summary has run all Summer long on TrackWrestling with their series “100 days to Nur-Sultan.” It’ll make you feel like an expert.
JUST SO MUCH D1 STUFF
Wow, where to start? Alphabetically? That might be at the Air Force Academy. The Falcons welcome another new face as 2X Oklahoma St. All American Chandler Rogers takes the Director of Operations position. Rogers will continue to compete as well, aiming to make the US Senior Greco Roman team. Also showing up at a new place, former Rutgers star John Van Brill, now the volunteer assistant coach at Bucknell. Comin to Jerzey? Well, that would be former Wyoming 3x AA Bryce “Nyce” Meredith. Bryce will be part of the Princeton Wrestling Club and the New Jersey Regional Training Center. Absent? That just might be defending 133 lb National Champ Nick Suriano of Rutgers. Reports out of Jerzey indicate Nick won’t be competing right away, if at all, this college season, taking an Olympic redshirt to try and make the O team in 2020. He would have 1 more year left for college competition if he wanted it. Then theres the skins v shirts thing. You remember that, right? At THE Ohio State University, it’s all about earning the Black Shirt. The first two went to 3yr starters and Multiple All Americans Luke Pletcher, 133lbs, and 197lb Kollin Moore. In Brookings, SD, The Rabbits are gettin jacked over the Gold(2) shirts. The first weekly winner, 157lb Colten Carlson. How about a follow up? Former NDSU Assistant Coach Gage Hutchison, the 3 year Hvt. NCAA Championships qualifier for the former Eastern Michigan program(3), is in training…at the Detroit Police Academy. And aiming at a HS coaching position. Good for you, Gage, and thank you Hannah Holiday of Leader Publications for the info. And thank you Jason Bryant for getting that nugget in your fabulous Mat Talk Online column. Just stay away from any nuggets in Nur-Sultan, Jason. Nugget sources of any type there, questionable at best. Just sayin. Schedule news? They’re finally becoming available, check the college wrestling boards at the Mat.com for a bunch.
SHAMELESS FANPLUG ALERT
Here’s what the Scribe has gleaned so far about the 2020 Southern Scuffle, set for a mid week showing Wed. and Thursday, Jan 1st and 2nd, in beautiful downtown Chattanooga.
IN-Host UTC, Davidson, and VMI from the SoCon. From the PAC 12, Cal St Bakersfield. From the Big 12, Iowa State, Air Force, and Northern Colorado. From the E.I W.A., Navy. From the BIG 10, Rutgers. From the newly combined MAC-EWL conference, Binghamton, Lock Haven, and Cleveland State. A full team list is due soon. You and yours are due for some fun-find it in Chatt-town and ring in 2020 with wrestling, Southern Style, at the Scuffle!
‘CUE THE LOCAL ANGLE: PANTHERS PROWL S TX BBQ
A band of Purple Panthers has called that now 6 years young BBQ establishment on SAs Blanco Road their post regional tournament home several years running. The mentor of their mat success and subsequent savory reward dinner: Weslaco (TX) Head Wrestling Coach Rolando Becerra. The steady hand behind this band of Panthers S Texas success story, “Coach B” and staff consistently produce more with less, exemplifying the Can Do attitude. Somehow, despite Football coaching duties, a full slate of English classes, and his wrestling teams needs, the affable Coach B found time to fire off some pointed replies to the Scribes questions.
FIRST HAND FORUM: WESLACO HEAD WRESTLING COACH ROLANDO BECERRA
Although its the oldest sport, wrestling seems to be enjoying a revival. Do you believe so, and, if so, why?
I believe it has enjoyed a resurgence with the increased visibility of mixed martial arts (MMA) for some kids. Mainly that’s the way we’ve had kids indirectly interested due to that.
You’re a successful coach in one of the largest and lesser well known areas of the state, often defined more by what it does not possess; funding, a stable population base, etc., as opposed to what it does have. How have you been able to leverage these perceived “handicaps” to your advantage in producing Weslacos success?
It’s difficult. But, it lends itself to (kids having) a “chip on the shoulder” mentality. Sometimes kids get extra motivated knowing their success despite the lack of support spites others. It gives them a sense of pride.
Wrestling is sometimes a tough “sell” to administrators, school staff, parents, and athletes. What are some of your tools that have helped you succeed in doing this?
First of all, wrestling is inherent. It’s in our blood. Well, I believe two things are….wrestling (fighting) and running. To me, I tell kids all the time. You have to be good in one of those. I preach self-defense as the number one thing you should want to take wrestling for and most kids get drawn in to that.
How does the sport help your student/athletes?
At its core I think it helps athletes find out who they are, whether good or bad. This is one of those sports that reveals some of our strengths and many of our weaknesses. If an athlete is honest with himself they can learn from it and work to correct those (weaknesses).
Texas has a top 5 population nationally, 3 of the countries 10 biggest cities, and a long history of athletics-centric success. How can we leverage our size/status to grow wrestling in the area/region/state?
I think it has to be a change in mentality. We have too many close minded adults whose insecurities and (negative feelings about wrestling) seep into their children. I’ve had kids that aren’t even willing to give wrestling a chance because of comments that are made by parents or coaches. In order to fight that mentality in kids we could get wrestling introduced in elementary and junior highs to teach younger kids the benefits and historical significance of wrestling.
THE EVOLUTION OF AN EVENT:
9/11 THEN, NOW, AND ALWAYS
A dark, sick feeling after the earliest, sketchy and completely inaccurate radio reports. Dismay as the automatic weapons armed law enforcement allowed only a few brief seconds of spousal contact before being separated and directed to our differing work places. Anger building as the scale of murder and destruction became evident and at the vacuous commentary from broadcasters and those observing and listening to the reports. Literally sprinting outside to scream rage to the skies that the families beloved, adopted country could be so brutally assaulted. Trembling with suppressed emotion when asked by management to lead employees in an outpouring of feelings. A spousal reuniting and, simply, holding each other, wondering. That was the then.
The incredible support of so much of the world that devolved into oh so typical international distrust. The emergence of a coalesced Bogeyman, a sneering, elusive villain seemingly always just out of retributions reach but never out of camera range. The reports, conferences, commissions and plans that chased each other in a seemingly endless whirlwind of futility. The slowly growing revelation that Americas reality had been permanently altered…and that what and who we are would still exist. That so many horrific planned attacks by enemies known and unknown would be thwarted by any means necessary. That accurate stories would emerge, some through Hollywoods lens, some through spectacular and searingly honest journalism.(4) The growing knowledge that the long term greatest need would be to care for and nurture those who ran forward when all others wanted to run away. That first viewing of the Memorial, hours spent in contemplation, sadness, and resolve. This is the now.
America stands. Its people love, prosper, and grow. We learn from the past, succeed in the present, and plan for the future. The World looks upon us, some with love, some with hate, some with pride, some with envy, some with understanding and acceptance, some with confusion and denial. But…the World looks upon us, and feels…..and,
THIS WILL BE THE ALWAYS…..
(1) Just prior to our Greco Roman team leaving for the World Championships, the squads long-time assistant coach, mentor, and wrestling/life exemplar Joseph “JJ” Johnson suddenly passed away at age 61. Intermat Senior Writer Craig Sesker and USA Wrestlings Gary Abbott (@ The Mat.com) have both written eloquently about this sad event.
(2) Just don’t get OverGolded, Colten. Check with the Wayans Bothers on how bad that can be.
3. Immediately after posting their best year in recent memory, and with their first All American in 20 years returning for the following season, EMU axed their wrestling program. The words that best describe this travesty are probably being prepped for court as this is written.
4. ZERO DARK THIRTY opens with a darkened screen and the playing of audio tapes from the 9/11 attacks. It maintains an at times difficult to watch intensity, albeit with Hollywood flourishes, of the hunt and killing of UBL.
THE LOOMING TOWER by Lawrence Wright. The book is a deeply researched history of the roots of the evil that manifested itself that day. It covers a half century of dark history, and, once picked up, simply cannot be put down. Yes, there was a mini series. Read the book anyway.
See you later this month.
USA! USA! USA!