3rd Season, Column 9: Fixin to get fun, Over-looked and Under-rated team, pt. 1, USA mines glory in Russia, A SoCon preview, and a TX State Park stopover

5 AMERICANS, 4 PLACEWINNERS, AND SOME PRECIOUS MEDALS

Don’t stop the Scribe if you’ve read this before because it’s just too much fun to write about. Once again a mens team of American Freestyle Wrestlers mounted an assault deep in the heart of Russia, and ONCE AGAIN the U.S. piled up some precious medals and place winning performances. 3 are teammates at the WolfPack RTC out of Raleigh, NC, with 2, 74KG Tommy Gannt and 86KG Lee Davis, both being former college wrestlers at NC St. Their teammate at the tournament, 97KG Timmy McCall, battled for Wisconsin during his college career. Gannt and McCall headed home with Bronze, while Davis and 74KG Logan Massa, a Michigan Wolverine with a year yet to go for U-M, finished 5th. Massa was actually Gantts victim in one of the Bronze medal matches. Telling you, folks, the USA is building some serious depth at all 10 internationally competed weight classes in Mens Freestlye. Will this growth in Anerican quality AND quantity somehow, some way help persuade the Pooh Bahs of wrestling to make the Olympics a 10 weight class strong competition again? You knew the answer to that before you finished the last sentence. But right before you started laughing.

SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON

PREVIEWING GARDNER-WEBB: BULLDOGS GO BIG FROM THE GET-GO…

What can you say about that team from Boiling Springs, North Carolina? Well for one thing, looks like the Schedule Fairy snuck up on Gardner-Webb and took a 2×4 to them while they were dreaming of a better than last years 2-13 record. Goodness gracious, you Runnin Bulldogs, 4, count em, 4 TOUGH tournaments in the first month of the season? What, the Chinese Navy couldn’t work you into their Spratly Islands War Games rotation this semester? Let’s take a look, shall we…First weekend of the season, the traditionally tough Hokie Open. 6 days later a visit to the always uncomfortable (for SoCon teams, always, and upon occasion, others) heights of Boone, NC, for the Appalachian Invite. Before the November page gets ripped off the calendar it’s a WAY out west trip for a dual with Cal Baptist and a next day all day grind at the RoadRunner Open. Keep the bags packed, please, cause the Runnin Bulldogs aren’t back in Boiling Springs but a bit before heading to Fairfax, VA. 1st weekend of December destination: the George Mason Patriot Open. Jon Sioredas and his Cal Poly Mustangs rode a similar route of tournament travel last season. It did not go well. We shall hope for better. One can be fairly certain Coach Daniel Elliott, 15 years on staff and entering season 8 as head coach, knows what his team needs. It’s just that from here, it looks like scheduling according to Neitzsche. So, what kind of Bulldogs are gonna be barking this year? Well, 30 strong for starters, hailing from a dozen states. Over a third of GWs roster is home grown North Carolina talent, with both the Linker and the Schiess brothers amongst them. The SoCon Coaches poll has GW tabbed fifth, perhaps a spot further back than one might expect with 8 starters back. That’s 8 out of 9, not 10, because GW sent out a 125lb competitor all of ONCE last season. There’s big time improvement coming in the littlest weight class, though, as promising freshman John Jones III (Columbus, GA, Northside, off a 43-0 State 4A senior season title) brings his 3X state qualifying career to Boiling Springs. Also in the running, 2019 JR. Nationals Freestyle All American Michael Pappaconsantinou. So that’s the beginning of the Bulldogs lineup. As to the other 9 classes, only 174lb now-Sophomore Sean Homet filled 1 weight class all season long last year. Interestingly, Homet and departed 2X SoCon Champ Tyler Marinelli were the only 2 Bulldogs with winning records last season. Both were also NWCA Academic All Americans and, as a team, Gardner-Webb finished 11th in the nation in cumulative G.P.A. That’s rarefied academic air right there. As to mat success… GW needs production out of 1 of its two promising freshmen. They probably also need to keep Jeffrey Linker at 197 instead of having him go to war as an undersized heavyweight. There’s some talent throughout the lineup. Enough to improve on last years duals win-loss record? Yes. Enough to move up the SoCon pecking order in order to get within eventual striking distance of the Big 3, UTC, App St. and top 15 threatening Campbell? Maybe. Enough to survive the aforementioned 4 tournaments in 5 weeks minefield intact and healthy for the Southern Scuffle, the Conference Tournament, and the NCAA’s? Rather not speculate on that. Let’s just say, GO, you Runnin (NOT hairy) Dogs, GO! ADDENDUM: Initial posting of this column failed to give proper recognition to those G-W athletes repping the Scribes home states, NJ and FL, and his adopted land love, TX. So, SHOUT OUT TO: Jacob Conrad (157/165), Freshman, Land’O’Lakes, FL, Carrollwood Day; Samuel Mora, 174LB, Freshman, Amarillo, TX, Tascosa,* Taylor Parks, Junior, 149LB, Arlington, TX, James Bowie.

ABOUT THAT COACHES POLL

To no one suprise the defending SoCon tournament Champs, the Campbell Camels, got the nod as the Preseason 2020 Tournament favorites. Appalachian State, who shared the regular season title with both Campbell and UTC, was picked 2nd, with the Scribes beloved Mocs (UTC, baby!) 3rd. Slotted 4th through 8th in the preseason poll: The Citadel, the above featured Gardner-Webb crew, VMI, Davidson, and conference AND D1 newbie Presbyterian.

TWO TEAMS WE’LL BE TALKIN ABOUT ALL YEAR LONG

These would be The 2020 All Underrated and Overlooked Team, because….because, and that team WE have to talk about (since apparently no one else wants to) the all Decade Disappeared Team. Here we go….

ALL OVERLOOKED/UNDERRATED TEAM : HOW CAN I QUALIFY?

Glad you asked! First, you need to be really good, but NOT, great, at wrestling. At least not in too many noticeable ways, ¿verdad? It helps if you’re a freshman or a sophomore or coming into one of those seasons off of redshirt/deferred status. Any more than 10 combined state titles/high placements at national events, while not an automatic disqualifier, is a definite no-no. For the All Overlooked & Underrated Team, avoiding these early accomplishments is suggested. Finally and of greatest importance: your quality can not be noticed enough to be on ANY professional media list of this years expected All Americans, blood round (round of 12) or round of 16 contestants. So there you have it, and now, without further ado, you have the Scribes 2019-2020 All Overlooked and Underrated Team, Part 1…

285LBS..

Gannon Gremmel, Iowa State

Hes 46-22 heading into his 3rd year as the Cyclones top Hvwt. He tied for 2nd in wins amongst Coach Kevin Dressers big boys with 27 w’s last season. He placed at every regular and post-season tournament heading into Nationals. He went 9-5 against fellow Big 12 Conference heavies, the toughest bunch of big boyz outside the Big 10. He pinned App States SoCon champ Cary Miller. So, for these and other reasons, the 2020 All Overlooked and Underrated Team, 285Lb, its the big man straight outta Dubuque, IA., Hempstead High, Gannon “The Grimm One” Gremmel. Now, Gannon, don’t let this go to your head. You better not overlook very talented teammate Kaden Sauer in this week’s wrestle-off. Just sayin….**

YOU NEED TO GO…..

Barely an hour from beautiful downtown San Antonio the heart of Texas beats strong and loud at Guadelupe River State Park. 3 miles in on P.R. 31 off State Road 46, this little big gem of a park showcases many of the best things the Lone Star States outdoors has. Lots of large, easy to walk to campsites and multiple camper/RV spots, all reasonably priced. Flat hikes, hill trails and simple access to the gorgeous Guadalupe River, flowing swift and clean throughout the Hill Country. Trees that in their youth would have shaded Abraham Lincoln had God allowed him to live and to visit the Deep South he helped set free. Every Saturday promptly at 9 AM there’s an easy and informative guided tour of one of Texas’ pristine wild places, the Honey Creek State Natural Area. Fishing, bird watching, biking, kayaking ..you can dip your toes into the outdoors or wade in deep at Guadalupe River State Park. Yes, we love it. Unabashedly.

HERE COMES THE SEASON!

See you soon,

Ted Carreras

*Home High School of 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist Brandon Slay. Tascosa HS was where NWHOF Coach Johhny Cobb and crew produced long lines of champions for the Rebels. The now retired Coach C. returned not one but two out of the blue calls from the Scribe and is still as gracious and helpful as he was in that original 1999 meetup at the TX HS Championships in Austin.

** Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa- this column originally credited AJ Nevills, whom Gremmel split matches with last year, as having achieved AA status at the NCAAS. Uh, no. He went 0-2. The editor deserves a pay raise. You deserve an apology. Here it is. APOLOGY.