2 OUTTA 3 AINT BAD, TEAM USA
The Nations best mat men and women have returned from the World Championships in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan the past 10 days or so with two teams earning trophies and one remaining a question mark. There is no question the American women shined brightest, bringing home 3 Golds, wrestling for a fourth medal, and finishing 3rd overall. They also served notice to the Giantesses of Womens Wrestling, Japan, that our ladies are looking to excel in Tokyo as well, site of the 2020 Olympics. While winning there may be too much, too soon to expect, Team USA Women have established themselves as a World force and a medal threat. The mens freestyle squad had a highly successful, if somewhat mixed set of results. They returned with 4 medals, 2 Golds and 2 Bronzes and a team Bronze tournament trophy as well. Especially sweet was edging arch-rival Iran for 3rd by a point on the competitions final day. It’s the 3rd straight year the mens team has taken home a team trophy. In the modern era where nearly a dozen wrestling rich countries no longer have their best men compressed into the monolith that is team Russia, world level competitors and teams are far more numerous. The US Mens team is a top tier World squad anytime the competition is staged in the 10 weight class format. The “thing in the way” for Team USA Mens Freestyle at the Olympics is that wrestling is contested at only 6 weight classes. 5 of our very best athletes will be trying to fill just 2 spots, and no other weight classes are a realistic option. Bluntly, that means two World Champions will be on the bench when the Team USA Mens Freestyle squad hit the mats next year in Tokyo. As to Team USA Mens Greco Roman squad, this year was, again, wait till next year. The breakdown on the let down that was Team USA Greco was covered AND headlined in an earlier column. Probably not much has changed in the past 10 days or so. Much needs to.
SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON….
The Southern Conference holds a special place in the Scribes heart, it being the bastion of the worlds greatest sport in the worlds greatest country’s most fun area to visit/vacay/live in. Fractured grammar aside, after 50 years of USA travel to 42 states including Hawaii, the view here is that its hard to beat the atmosphere, the people, the food and the feeling of the American South. The SoCon has kept the flame of wrestling burning since about the halfway mark of the PREVIOUS century, and its future is glowing brighter year by year. Up next in this and following columns at random will be a modestly detailed look-see at each of the fine schools in this conference fielding wrestling teams, starting with…..no suprise here….the Scribes beloved UTC Mocs.
UTC, YEAR TWO, THE KYLE RUSCHELL INITIATIVE
Forward is the only way to look for the Mocs as UTC puts one of the nations most daunting dual meet schedules down in front of their 29 man strong roster for the 2019-2020 season. Questions about the large number of, lets be honest here, extremely tough opponents, the dates of these matches, and the overall concept of the challenge were answered succinctly in a 45 second twitter posting by the entire Mocs coaching staff. They said it best, the Scribe “will explain…no, rather, sum up”(1)…The goals are All Americans and National Championships. Everything has to feed into that, and this year that means non conference showdowns with Army, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, top 10 ranked VA Tech and Iowa State, and 3 matches with teams from the Big 10. You know, the Colossus of College Wrestling conferences. Indiana, Illinois and Iowa appear on UTCs dual meet docket this season. Apparently the crocodiles from Ramree Island(2) weren’t hungry this year. Truthfully, Coach Ruschell and his crew know steel sharpens steel, and this will be a forging project years in the making. Making their final statements this season in a Mocs uniform, senior starters Chris Debien (141), Dominic Lampe (184) and Rodney Jones (197) should progress past last years efforts. Debien picked up his second SoCon title and NCAA Championships appearance in 2019, while Jones, 20-20 last season*, took 2nd at the conference meet and received an NCAA at large bid. Lampe, last of the 3 double-tough Lampe brothers to wrestle for UTC, proved his mettle by returning from back to back injury ending and redshirt seasons, finally making it back to the mat. Returning underclassmen starters Tanner Smith and Hunter Fortner* held down 149 and 174* for the bulk of the season with Smith, a transfer from the assassinated Eastern Michigan program, being named SoCon Freshman of the year. The Mocs look strongest at the middle weights for the year with outlier hopes for Jones at 197 and Fabian Gutierrez at 125. Gutierrez had a bang bang 17-4 record in his first year as a Moc. All season long he battled incumbent 3 yr starter Alonzo Allen for the job at the lightest weight, finally being edged out as Allen finished his UTC career with another NCAA Championships appearance. They come to Chattanooga from all over, as 17 different states can boast of a man in a Mocs uniform. As always, SHOUT OUT to the young men repping the Scribes home states, NJ and FL, and his adopted land love, TX….George Coleman, Pittsgrove, NJ/St Augustine Prep; Logan Andrew, Winter Park, FL, Lake Highland Prep; Franco Valdes, Miami, FL, Southwest; Jake Johnson, Southlake, TX, Southlake Carroll.
Clarion has settled their coaching staff as the Golden Eagles welcomed in former Campbell All American and 4XNCAA qualifier Nathan Kraisser and ex NCST upper weight star Malik McDonald. Kraisser was Campbells 1st All American under current uber-coach Cary Kolat (MANY more to come, #ROLLHUMPS!) while all McDonald did for the Wolfpack was to shape-shift his body from around 180 lbs to a nasty tough, 197lb NCAA Championships qualifier. Then he changed again and went 20-4…as a heavyweight. Then he came BACK down to 197 and made the nationals again! The man is articulate, talented, and nothing if not malleable. No less an expert than the #wordSmith himself, Earl Smith of the Open Mat, has pegged Clarion as a sneaky tough team headed into this season. Adding Kraisser and McDonald to the coaching crew is not going to hurt them, pero posiblemente some of their opponents, verdad?
SPECIAL NOTE: SAT 9/28 6-9 P
Go if you can, watch if you can’t, as The National Wrestling Hall of Fame/Dan Gable Museum hosts a celebration of life for beloved Coach Mike Duroe, who passed 1 year back after a valiant battle with brain cancer. The event will also be live-streamed on the Museums Facebook page beginning at 7 pm. Duroe was a towering figure in the sport for nearly 4 decades, assisting anyone who asked at any level to reach beyond where they would have gotten without him. Each of us who ever achieved ANYTHING in sports, or life, has had a Mike Duroe to help light their path and lighten their load. You knew of him, even if, like the Scribe, you never met him.
NOW, THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT, BE AT PEACE, FOR BY LIFE LIVED AND DEEDS DONE THOU HATH EARNED THY REST .
See you next month.
(1) Mandy Patinkin, as revenge-obsessed swordsman Inigo Montoya, bringing Cary Elwes’ character Wesley up to speed after bringing him back to life in the greatest fantasy/swashbuckler/romantic comedy of all time, “The Princess Bride.” Remake this movie, Sony Studios? INCONCEIVABLE!
2. A horrifying WWII story never either fully verified nor debunked had Allied forces driving a force of about 500 Japanese Imperial Army soldiers deep into the mangrove swamps on the tiny island. Less than 300 survived with on site accounts attributing the majority of the wounded and dying falling victim to ceaseless assaults by saltwater crocodiles.
*Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea MAXIMA Culpa…records and weight classes now correct for Lampe, Jones, AND Fortner.