The College Wrestling season hit full swing this past weekend with action literally from Coast to Coast. Let’s poke around a bit and find some fun stuff, shall we?
UTC ASKS AN OLD FRIEND TO STEP OUTSIDE
Chattanooga hosted SIUE in what was originally a tri meet until injuries trimmed Presbyterians roster down to below optimal team competition levels. So it was up to host UTC and the Cougars, out of Edwardsville, IL., to put on the whole show. They wrestled in the brisk outside of Miller Park in beautiful downtown Chattanooga. (BTW, great tickets are still available for the Southern Scuffle Jan 1st and 2nd. GoMocs.com or 423-266-6627 for the fracas, for the fun, for the food, FOR THE CITY!) Score it 29-14 Chattanooga over their former conference foe as UTC took 7 out of 10 bouts with 4 bonus point wins. Last year’s star backup, 125LB Fabian Gutierrez, new 133LB Moc Franco Valdez, and 4 year starter 141LB Chris Debien accounted for 2 of those big victories. Following some back and forth at mid match, Chattanooga sealed the deal with Michael Waddells (a transfer from Oklahoma) first period pin at 184. UTC then took a weekend bus ride to Roanoke, VA and competed at Sundays Southeast Open. 10 Mocs placed at the always tough season opener set in the Great Commonwealth. 8 D1 teams sent “attached” competitors. This means they repped their schools on an official capacity. More on this event in a bit. SIUE headed home and heads east next weekend for a double dual with West Liberty and Coach Matt Azevedos Drexel Dragons. Of opening night note for the Cougars: the varsity debut of 3rd generation wrestler Max Kristoff, son of SIUE Hall of Fame All American Kip Kristoff and Grandson of Olympic Hero, SIUE Hall of Famer and former Coach Larry Kristoff. #Kristoffcubed won by fall, and 2 of SIUEs 2019 National qualifiers, 157LB Nate Higgins and 285LB Colton McKiernan, picked up the Cougars 2 other victories.
WISCONSIN WINS BIGLY AND LITTLY, ARMY NEARLY MOVES THE CHEESE, NAVYS VALOR DOUBLED UP BUT NEVER DOUBTED, AND OH NO, FRESNO, O-3?
Fridays 4 way, way out West, featured the Wisconsin Badgers, Army, Navy, and Fresno State in a 2 location quad meet of sorts. Very early in the day it was Chris Bonos Badgers being unkind visitors as they thumped Fresno State 31-8. Where the Bulldogs were strong, the Badgers were stronger and Wisky ran away with the win. But Wisconsin nearly lost their cheeseheads against a tough, talented Army team. Coach Kevin Ward has the Black Knights of the Hudson honed to a nasty edge right from the jump this year, and they jumped all over Wisconsins middle and upper weights. Army won 5 of 6 matches from 149 to 197 and held a 2 point lead heading into the Heavyweight match. Wisconsin All American Trent Hillger won his match and the dual for the Badgers with a 7-0 victory over Armys Ben Sullivan. Army would go on to defeat Fresno St. 29-9, and now preps for a tri-meet with Chattanooga and Illinois. Keep an eye on the Black Knights, folks. Right now they’d be the favorites for the All Academy Championships…if they choose to attend. Their absence last year was widely noticed and keenly felt. Navy took the All Academy title in 2019, and Friday they took a win from Fresno St. as well, 25-9. That the Midshipmen were overmatched in a 24-12 loss to Wisconsin probably did little to dampen their spirits. Coach Joel “Human Motivational Quote” Sharratt has never experienced a result that he couldn’t re-positive. Thats similar to repurposing and also beneficial for the environment. The Midshipmen finished the trip with a 27-6 win over Cal Baptist. Going undefeated on the weekend for Navy, 125LB Logan Treaster and suprising 197LB freshman Jacob Koser. Navy is sniffing at 900 wins as their 2 weekend w’s have them at 899 in an amazing 112 years of competition. As the Midshipmen will face Penn State next, win 900 will have to wait. As to Fresnos results, their 3 losses perhaps had some head scratching going on from the Valley faithful. Again, it’s all about matchups, and not enough of them were good enough for the Bulldogs on Friday. Fresnos middle weights, though, hung tough with 7 wins in 9 matches from 174LB Jackson Hemauer, 149LB Greg Gaxiola, and 157LB Jacob Wright. Hemauers dropped down from 184 where he had a stellar 23-13 redshirt freshman campaign for Coach Troy Steiner last year. Also of note: the biggest of the Bulldogs big guns, All American 197LB Josh Hokit and NCAA qualifier 285LB A.J. Nevills, did not compete. At least not on the mat, as Hokit is still barreling through bodies and scoring touchdowns for the Fresno State football team. Nevills? Not sure. As of this writing unimpeachable sources indicate plans for the big, bad, back end duo for the Bulldogs are fluid and subject to change.
ITS 4 DEGREES IN LARAMIE, AND WYOMING COACH MARK BRANCH IS LAUGHING
At least at this authors twitter weather comments, as WYO hosted the Cowboy Open for the 42nd year and for the umpteenth time in single digit weather. Cowboys don’t care. They, along with conference foes Northern Colorado and the Air Force Academy, cinched it up and went at it Saturday. There were a slew of other teams as well, pretty much all area small school powers. In brief, it was a bit bumpy for the home team, at least compared to last year and also to this seasons lofty expectations. 9 Cowboys made the finals between the two divisions contested at the tournament and 4 won titles. That paled, however, compared to last years 9 champs. Air Force Head Coach Sam Barber, whose Falcons had 2 titlists, probably said it best in a pre tournament interview. Both his Falcons and Troy Nickersons Northern Colorado Bears are just simply getting better each year. Both may be closing the gap on their old Western Wrestling Conference and current Big 12 rival. In fact, Air Force has had Top 25 ranked recruiting classes 4 of the last 5 years. One of their recent additions, Sophomore 125LB Sidney Flores, claimed his 2nd Cowboy Open title in as many seasons this past Saturday. Flores is a fine example of the “top-flight” talent AFA has been pulling in of late. He was a 3X California state qualifier and a finalist in 2017. He won the 2018 National Collegiate Open and placed 5th at United World Wrestlings Junior Nationals the same calendar year. Back to this past weekend as the 2nd champ for AFA, 165LB Randy Menewether, ripped through his matches with 4 pins and a 5 point decision win. Air Force next heads to Boone, NC for the Mountaineer Invite November 9th. The 3rd D1 team at the tournament, Northern Colorado, had a real show up and show out showing. The Bears won 5 of the 10 titles in the Elite division, 6 overall on the day. Super recruits Theorius Robison and Andrew Alirez, both heavily pursued home state talents, won at 133 and 149 respectively. Theres only 2 seniors on the Bears roster, and 19 of the 30-strong team hail from the Rocky Mountain State. Robisons finals match victim: outstanding junior and Wyoming 2018 All American Montorie Bridges. The 149LB Alirez was simply dominant. Greeley, Colorado, is where UNC is located, and it’s at Greeley Central HS where Alirez, to quote UNCs media notes, “accomplished a lot.” YO. Read it for yourself, not enough room here. Former App St. 184LB national qualifier Alan Clothier looks right at home in a Bears singlet, anchoring the left end of the picture taken of UNC’s 6 Cowboy Open Champs. His mountains to mountains move was highlighted in an earlier column (APP ST STAR GOES WEST). A returner from last years All Injured-M.I.A. team, 157LB Jimmy Fate, won a Bears v. Bears finals match 12-0 over teammate Ethan Leake. More on this bad band of Bruins in a later column. Hint: They’re comin to the Scuffle!
SO COOL SO HOT, SOCON
All the Southern Conference teams were in action this weekend. Campbell had a big showing at the Southeast Open. They had 6 champs, 4 in the Open division, the most of any team. 17 Camels in all clambered up the podium. Top 6 ranked heavyweight Jere Heino sat the tournament out, so the Camels backup big man, Mongolian born Odgerel Batkhishig, took 5th. Heino, BTW, also stars internationally, for Finland. SoCon power App State, Gardner Webb, VMI, and Davidson all joined in the Sunday fun in Roanoke, VA, as well. App State had about 20 competitors, but only 4 “attached.” They all placed top 3 as the Mountaineers elected to send freshmen/sophomore division competitors only. G W, featured in last weeks column, sent 20 Runnin Bulldogs to Roanoke, with 5 in the Open division. Best showing there was Brandon Brights 2-2 mark. 3 top 6 finishes highlighted GWs work on the freshman/sophomore matches. As noted before, work being done and work to do in Boiling Springs, NC. Davidson saw Kyle Gorant, 133LB, go 3-1, good for 2nd place in the freshmen/sophomore bracket. In all, 10 Davidson wrestlers were in action, more than half the roster. Speaking of half the team, these Wildcats put 8 on the SoCon All Academic team last year, and they’re expecting even more for 2020. VMIs performance was highlighted, ¿qué sorpresa?, by Senior 174LB Neal Richards work. He went 4-1 on the day on the way to a 5th place finish, twice defeating North Carolinas tough Clay Lautt. You know Neal was looking to see Carolina stud Devin Kane instead. Kane gave Neal his first and last losses of the year last season, 2 of the just 6 defeats Richards suffered in 2018-19. They’ll meet soon enough. A trio of young Keydets, 197LB Zach Brown, 157LB Will Lawrence, and 149LB Job Chisko (brother of former VA Tech 2XAA Solomon Chisko) finished 1st, 3rd, and 5th respectively.
SNARK FILLED COMMENTARY THAT ONLY WRESTLING NERDS WILL LAUGH AT, OR…..
SMALL NOTES ON THE BIG BOYS
Penn State sent 11 wrestlers to the Clarion Open. That’s also in Pennsylvania. Only 3 Lions made the finals. Only 2 won. Obviously the influence of global warming, the meteorite, and the re-election campaign are to blame there.
Va Tech thumped Missouri 29-10. The win was suprising, somewhat. The margin was suprising, definitely. Then the Hokies hosted the Southeast Open. It used to be the Hokie Open. But calling it and running it like that is a no good, pretty bad thing legal wise anymore. So, its the Southeast Open. Don’t get it twisted, either. Missouri was at the Southeast Open, too. They used a lot of their starters. VA Tech didn’t. Missouri had 3 champs. VA Tech had 3, too. You score it.
The Ohio State University had 5 champs at the Michigan State Open. That’s as many as all the other teams combined. That’s greedy, but impressive. They would have had 6, but their best heavyweight is transferring. Their 2nd best heavyweight is representing the USA overseas. Their 3rd best heavyweight couldn’t win the tournament. Darn it all, Ohio State. Get your bigs in line, will you?
Oklahoma State didn’t wrestle but IS going to PA. this month also, to wrestle Drexel. Good for Oklahoma State, probably not very good for Drexel, but that’s wrestling. They’re BOTH coming to the Scuffle. Cowboys and Dragons in Chattanooga, oh my!👌🐲.
Michigan sent 22 wrestlers to the Michigan State Open. 8 placed. Their best Heavyweight, Junior World Champion Mason Parris, was their only titlist. If you know of any countries in need of an Olympic wrestler, call Anne Arbor. They can probably spare what you need. #MGoInternational.
Iowa didn’t wrestle, other than themselves. Out of sight, out of mind. Like their wrestle-offs. Coach Brands and the team were IN sight, in a corn field, in a press conference, just recently, though. WOW. SO Iowa. LOVE Iowa. The state, the wrestling, the food, the women. If you can combine them all, it’s a win-win-win-win.
Minnesota wrestled Friday night, beating Cal St. Bakersfield 28-9. Coach Manny Riveras Bakersfield Roadrunners are good. Gophers Coach Brandon Eggums (typing “Gophers Coach” and ANY name other than J. Robinson will ALWAYS suck) are better. You’re wonderful, Brandon*. AD Mark Coyle, you’re not. Wonder if we’ll still receive the weekly Minnesota wrestling newsletter after this. Speaking of Minnesota news, their best heavyweight didn’t wrestle either. Details, read Mark Palmers Intermat article.
Cornell wrestled….overseas. 133LB Chas Tucker, 165LB Andrew Berreyesa, and 184LB Max Dean went Greco at the U23 World Championships. Fortunately, once you Go Greco, you can come back. Tucker will this year. Berreyesa and Dean will next year, they’re Olympic “Big” Redshirting. C’mon, a couple of those per column you expect, right?
NC State sent a Pack (now we’re done) of wrestlers to the Battle at the Citadel. There were 7 other teams. NC State had 4 place winners and a champ. They also sent 3 to the Southeast Open. No big names for the WolfPack in either event. Eventually, most of those guys will be. Big names, that is. That’s how you earn Top 10 ranking for 58 straight weeks. Thats Alpha Wolf Head Coach Pat Popolizio and staff for you. BTW, Pat P. HATES rankings. We’d LOVE to see a 3 way Folkstyle/Freestyle/Greco Roman match between Pat Pop and NC ST. Media honcho Brian Reinhardt. As long as Brian gets choice. That way, he can choose not to participate. Good choice, Brian.
BIG BOYS, THE NEXT BUNCH
Northern Iowa. Iowa State. Arizona State. Lehigh. Oklahoma. North Carolina. Pittsburgh. Stanford. Princeton. And some others. We love you, but apologies, we are at deadline. Next week we promise. The Scribe has a wife.** And a real job. Speaking of which….
‘CUE THE LOCAL ANGLE
At that easy-going, hard to beat BBQ stop smack dab in the middle of San Antonio on Blanco Road, the Scribe was thrilled by fans and alums from all over the USA wrestling map. Details in a column to come, but Michigan, Ohio State, Minnesota, Fresno State and South Dakota State had an audience and gained some new appreciation for their respective schools wrestling skills. And on the local HS note, former San Antonio Churchill HS state finalist Trey Culberson made a pit stop. He made the day brighter with his early 2000s stories of SA and TX matside and now business success. So stop by sometime, grab some grub and gab it up a bit with the crew. You never know who might stop by!
ALL OVERLOOKED AND UNDERRATED TEAM, PART 2
197LBS. GREG BULSAK, CLARION
Doggone it, Greg, you were a TOP choice for this team. Then you had to go and beat your teams top heavyweight, Ty Bagoly, in a special feature match in Clarions wrestle-offs. Then you won the Clarion Open, getting revenge on young Penn State star Michael Beard in the process. Don’t care. You’re still the choice for this spot. Bulsak was 17-6 last year in a season abbreviated by a 4 week and 2, 2 week absences from competition. He was 17-4 as a redshirt 3 years ago, a WolfPack Open, PA State Athletic Conference, and Eastern Wrestling League Finalist in 2018, 10-1 overall in EWL duals, 6-0 during last years regular season. Good wins and no bad losses highlighted his 2018-19 campaign…until the EWL tournament. 2, 1 point defeats from wrestlers he had shut out in the regular season shut off Greg’s post-season hopes. That’s “fixin to”*** change this year.
See you next week! Ted Carreras
*Yes you are, Coach. STILL waiting on that Abelskiver Pancakes recipe, though. Just sayin.
**No, shes not from Iowa, shes from Florida. Even better. G.R.I.T.S., dontyaknow
***state verb of Texas. SURELY you knew that by now