YO. It’s a former RailRoad, Lee Corsos 5th favorite adjective, and the ONLY description for this past months worth of stunning upsets, startling results, sad departures and simmering hopes. Really now, who foresaw 6 of the Countries Top 10 teams losing in a 3 week span, 4 of them at home? That the 4X defending National Champions would have their 60 match win streak broken? That THOSE results would share equal headline time with skin check protocol, overseas recruiting trips, (ALLEGEDLY) and vaunted coaches resignations? That there would be the birth of multiple new Mens Division 1 programs AND the first ever Womens D1 team? That nearly a dozen Collegiate All Americans who collectively own multiple National Championships and years of college eligibility would forego this season to pursue Olympic glory? That “6th year Senior Eligible” would change from No way, No how to why not? SUCH a month. Better bring it, December. You’ve got a LOT to live up to.
IN WRESTLING, WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS CHANGES EVERYTHING
The single most powerful operative phrase in collegiate wrestling comes from this tournament, whose results echo throughout the entire season. That phrase will be thought, written and uttered from the beginning of each college wrestling campaign through to the seeding meetings for the National Championships. “In Vegas “. “At Vegas.” The preposition is variable and irrelevant. Its effect, combined with the name, is constant and staggering. Simply put, the results of this event, both individual and team, carry near mythic significance well beyond its acknowledged level of competition. The Midlands, in Chicago at months end, are older and the Southern Scuffle is THE test at the TRUE midpoint of the season, but the CKLV has swag. And almost always the greatest number of participating teams. The Scribe has never attended and cannot this year, so find your go to result sources at all the usual sites from the usual suspects. For a historic perspective on the tournaments namesake you are referred to last years Season 2 Column 8 feature [Nov. 30th] : “THANK YOU, CLIFF, FOR THE KEENNESS”. This years event is set for December 6th and 7th. As this column is primarily centered on those schools that do not always receive national attention, heres a feature or three on a few squads set to get the bright lights, big city treatment the first weekend of December in Sin City.
CAL POLY WORKS THEIR FORMULA: 8(w)÷5(T)+2[d]y>2019R
Where w = weeks, T is tournaments, d is duals, the yield should be greater than 2019s results. Solve for success. BHH HC Jon Sioredas(a) has his Mustangs out of the starting gate at a 2-0 clip in his 4th season as Cal Polys coach. The youth movements still in full effect as CPs putting only 3 seniors out on the mat this season, 2 starting. They both bear watching. 149LB Joshy Cortez is coming off a 9-2 redshirt season after claiming a 2018 PAC 12 Tournament Silver, down a weight class and ready to make noise. Then there’s Tom Lane. The 2X National qualifier has maybe been overshadowed the past few years by now graduated/MIA conference rivals Matt Williams of Bakersfield and Corey Griego of Oregon State as well as current Stanford stud Nathan Traxler. No longer, as Tom Terrific has ripped the roof off the young season like the Cyclops popping the lid on his treasure room/pantry in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.(b) A 77 second pin against SF State and a nasty 9-0 shutout beatdown of Buffalos tough sophomore Sam Schuyler lend credence to Coach Sioredas blunt 3 word assessment of his 197LB star, and we quote: “He is ready.” The new 8 strong herd of Mustangs coming in next year all call the Golden State home, BTW, and 19 of the 25 current CP team are Cali strong. New assistant Coach Sean Fausz, the 4X National qualifier from NC State, will team with talented 2nd year Head Assistant Coach Chris Chionuma and Volunteer Isaac Blackburn to make Coach Sioredas staff one of the best West of the Rockies. The Mustangs are already 2 wins up on last years tough dual meet results, and Lane won’t be lonely at the Nationals this year. As to the CKLV, be pleased but not suprised if theres a small, sturdy herd of Mustangs standing top 8 come Sunday.
NOT CLEAR AT CLARION
The Golden Eagles were a pick to be sneaky-good this season. To be honest, this site missed that badly. So far this season Clarions missed the mark as well. 4 finalists and 2 champs at your own tournament to start the season sounds respectable, is, really. The champs, 149LB 6th yr senior Brock Zacherl and 197LB Greg Bulsak, had squeaky close wins. Bulsaks was understandable and it was a good one, a revenge victory over Penn States Michael Beard. Zacherl beat a wrestler from PA also, by 1 point. A PA HS wrestler name of Ed Scott. They’re separated by 6 years of experience and not much else, apparently. 141LB tough Taylor Ortz who, like Zacherl, was lost for last season at the CKLV, has had an interesting return. He didn’t go at his own teams tournament and has lost by pin since, 2-1 on the young season. Every Golden Eagles been tagged with an “L” and the team stands at 1-3. And you know what’s next. This years CKLV will be something to point at for Clarion. What talon they use to describe their results there is, at this point, a big variable.
FIGHTING SCOTS MAKING #DatFoolYT A HASHTAG REALITY
Upon many occasions since the Edinboro University administration shook the wrestling world two seasons back both fans and media have been up in arms. The reassignment of AD Bruce Baumgartner, Americas most accomplished ever Olympic wrestling hero, and the departure of multi decade über-succesful Head Coach Tim Flynn caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Snark cannons were firing at will, some aimed by the author. Well, with a retooled 33 man roster, a 5-1 dual meet mark and a Top 8 finish at the tough Navy Classic, the ‘Boro be making fools out of most everyone. Including Yours Truly, who, based on observation and a smattering of inside information predicted gloom, then doom for the Scots program within 3 seasons. Could that still occur? Certainly. See St. Olaf, Eastern Michigan, Boise St., Nebraska-Omaha, etc., etc., etc. Likely at this point? Unsure, but its sure trending the other way. Head Coach Matt Hills retooled staff, with Sean Boyle and Earnest James replacing Mike DePalma and Pat Bradshaw, have the Scots heating up their first season in the bigger and better Mid American Conference. The MAC absorbed the 7 team EWL, Eastern Wrestling League, and the new group is 15 squads strong. It stretches from Buffalo, New York, to Norfolk, Virginia, to Columbia, Missouri, and its sending 4 teams to the CKLV. Edinboro just might be carrying the conference flag come Sunday. If so, Navy Classic Champ 174LB Jacob Oliver and 285LB Jon Spaulding will probably be leading the charge. Spaulding, a sophomore, took 3rd at the Annapolis event, and don’t bet against 197LB Dylan Reynolds finding a top 8 finish either. Reynolds was an astonishing 32-12 last season with 8 and 7 match win streaks. The ‘Boros big 3 combined for 82 wins last season, and they’re 25-5 on the young campaign. Or maybe it’s the Fantastic 4? 184LB Cody Mulligan is a tough 2X PA champ from Edinboros “feeder school”, Saegertown High. He had a double digit wins campaign last year as a redshirt and he’s currently 9-3 with 5 bonus point wins. The depth of the 184LB competition may keep Mulligan off the podium but not points-less. Ditto for 157LB Peter Pappas. Edinboro, you are looking GOOD. Scribe, maybe not so much. Glad to be, at least for now, wrong about these guys. FREEDOM!!!
HOFSTRA: CHAMPAGNE HISTORY, CAVIAR DREAMS, 6 PACK BUDGET
Been a bit since the Pride was a factor on the National Stage. In Head Coach Dennis Papadatos 5 previous seasons Hofstras been beset by more than their share of scheduling issues, small numbers of bodies but large numbers of injuries, and especially a nationally noticed “eh” attitude when the team has been noticed at all. The one shining exception was 2 seasons back when the Pride had their first All American under his tutelage, and first since 2012, 285LB Michael Hughes. What was going to be a springboard for continuous forward progress became a bit of a bummer last year. In an interview Papadatos noted a much more positive attitude from his current squad, with significant changes in quantity and quality of practice and preparation cited as major factors. What has that meant so far? Well, a good showing at the Princeton Open, for starters, with All Overlooked and Underrated Team member Ricky Stamm powering to a title. Sage Heller, the oldest of the 3 Heller brothers on the team, took 2nd. Freshman Reece Heller put up a 4-0 run in the “C” division at the Journeymen Classic with brother Sage, Stamm and several other Pride grapplers coming away with top 3 finishes in various divisions. Then it was a 7th place team showing, Stamm 2nd, Reece and Zachary Knighton-Ward 3rd at the Black Knight Invitational mid-November. So there’s definitely signs of life in this Pride. Its just a bit small in numbers and experience to effectively take on the elephants that will be lumbering around in Las Vegas this weekend. Needing note: a fine 24-12 win over a good Air Force squad. THAT should help dispel some questions as to this 22 man deep teams capability against similar foes.
SMALL NOTES ON THE BIG BOYS
PENN STATE LOST!!!!!
Wait, that was last month. Repeat once per day for the next 70 days. Once you finally believe it, it will be accurate again. Maybe. They’re not going to the Cliff Keen, the Midlands, or the Scuffle. They ARE hosting the Olympic Trials, though. It’s a chance for PSU wrestlers to show they belong at that level. And maybe a chance for a coach as well.
Iowa is the new Number 1. They are beating very good teams very badly and good teams worse. Who will be numbers 2 through ? is the biggest question. Be seeing you, Penn State, Ohio State, VA Tech, NC State, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Arizona State, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, etc., etc., etc. Patrick Mcgoohan has a nice home in the Village you can visit to map this out.(c)
Minnesota is still without their All American Hvyt. or a statement win this season. They do have 12 individual tournament titles and an invite to the CKLV. Doubt they’ll find any of what they’re missing there.
Arizona State has THE statement win of the season. They also hosted their all time record crowd. One came to watch the other. The Sun Devils are 5-0. Thats just 1 less win than they had all last year. Theyll win a lot more this year. Arizona State is going to the Cliff Keen. They’ll win a lot there also.
Nebraska has a statement win over Northern Iowa and another win against a tough Wyoming Cowboys team. Nebraska almost always beats a tough Cowboys team. The Wyoming kind, not the Oklahoma State kind. Nebraska is going to the Cliff Keen. They did great there last year and might do better this year. If they do they’ll be 2nd. Or 1st. They just might do that.
Wisconsin is not going to the Cliff Keen. They are going to the Midlands, though. They did go to Iowa City. There were lots of close matches in the Iowa dual. The final score wasn’t, though. 32-3, Hawkeyes. It could have been worse. Wisconsin could have scheduled all three.
Virginia Tech has had ONLY statement wins this year. Dual meets and tournaments alike. This years best 1st year wrestler for the Hokies said they’d have a good team next year. That sounds scary if you’re not a Hokie. If you are a Hokie, right now you’re not scared of anybody, and you’re going to Vegas. To watch your team.
Ohio State is going to the Cliff Keen. Theyre real good, real young, real suprised they lost at home to VA Tech and real disappointed they lost their best current AND their best ex-heavyweight the same month. That’s THE Ohio State University-keepin it real.
Northern Iowa has 3 statement losses this season. To Nebraska at home, to Northwestern on a baseball mound, and to their own schools advancement policies when Michelle Van Dorn was promoted away from athletic communications. Hopefully the Hog, 197LB Jacob Holschlag, won’t be the 4th. He was hurt in his 1st match back after losing last year to injury. The Panthers are going to the Cliff Keen. In fact UNI has nothing but tournaments all month long. Its OK, the #Panthertrain got derailed early last year too but ended up finishing ahead of schedule.
Pittsburgh made the Top 10 team rankings. They probably won’t stay there, but no one will really want to wrestle them anyway unless they have to. They’re that kind of team. The one that makes you look not quite good enough on AND off the mat. No offense, but your A.D. probably secretly wishes his/her coach would coach/style the way Keith Gavin does. #likeaboss
Oklahoma State doesn’t have a statement win because, well, they’re Oklahoma State and THEY’RE the statement win for other teams. They do have a puzzling loss, though, by the skin of their teeth. Or somewhere. We’ll have to check with Seth Duckworth about that. The Cowboys aren’t going to the Cliff Keen, but they’re coming to the Scuffle. Now THATS a statement win, Chattanooga.
NC State is undefeated. They have 6 wrestlers in the top 20, including 2 sets of brothers. They’re going to the Cliff Keen. Their rankings may go higher afterwards. On the first schedule published this season the WolfPack was heading to the South Beach Duals. The most recent version says they’re coming to the Scuffle. If that’s true, take a bow, Chattanooga, take a bow. That’s bow, as in to applause. NOT bow, as in weapon. Even Hawkeye couldn’t slow this Pack down. #AmericanWerewolves.
Last year Lehigh had more ups and downs than a Disney World thrill ride. They’ve started this year the same way. 1 and 2 on the mat and 0-M-G off it. Super Associate Head Coach John Hughes is now something else and somewhere other than the Mountain Hawks practice room. Hope the Hughes household and the Mountain Hawks can both regain what they need from this divergence. Outside looking in, neither seems likely. Lehigh isn’t going to the Cliff Keen, the Midlands, or the Scuffle. They are wrestling Penn State on the 6th, though. Then they’re going to Ft. Lauderdale(d) for the South Beach Duals 3 weeks later. After this seasons start, they should probably go to Ft. Lauderdale sooner. And stay longer.
Oklahoma has been in the same place for forever that Pittsburgh and Lehigh are now. An excellent team with superb coaching, big bucks backing, a national championships pedigree, and nationally locked in place as “the other team” in their state. That’s reality in the state of Oklahoma. State, that is. Cowboys, not Sooners, sadly. Sweet Lou Roselli was lured away from Ohio State to address this issue head on. In his 4th year in Norman Lou still has a headache. It’s in Stillwater, but there are signs it’s subsiding. Top flight in state talent is opting for Crimson and Cream rather than Black and Orange. There’s that hiring of Eric Guererro away from “Them”(e) to help improve and expand the Regional Training Center. There’s a full roster of talent plucked literally from coast to coast to supplement the Sooner State studs staying home and choosing Oklahoma. This year? 1-1 in duals, maybe below expectations returns tournament wise so far. The CKLV and in fact this season will go a looong way towards setting the current and long term future of both this team and this coaching staff. Still don’t understand the 7 heavyweights. Has Greg Kerklviet called yet?
Princeton is amazing. They are undefeated. (Until this weekend, when they wrestle Oklahoma State and Iowa back to back this weekend). They will wrestle anyone, anywhere, anytime. (See the first parentheses). They have 32 wrestlers from 13 states ranging from Agaisse to Yancopoulos and Massachusetts to Utah. Theres a 14 member wrestling support staff, 4 All American coaches and 1 wheelbarrow. #GetIn, because it’s going to be some ride. Just for fans though, as the Tigers have already sailed to the New wrestling World seeking history and fame. They brought Glory with them. #BurntheShips
SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON
PRESBYTERIAN TAKING A PERMANENT MARKER TO WRESTLINGS WALL OF FAME
Its been a season of firsts for the Blue Hose Mens and Womens Wrestling team. Coach Dany Deanda has guided the 1st ever D1 Womens wrestling squad to a fantastic 3-2 dual meet record and a 3rd place finish at mid Novembers East Stroudsburg Open. Now the Blue Hose Women will have their first home competition on the 7th hosting Limestone and Life University. The mens team has picked up its pace as well and is setting up for a dual with Franklin and Marshall this month before ringing in the New Year in Chattanooga.
MOCS DON’T TAPER, THEY TEST
UTCs 2-4 season start was 4 matches out of 30 from being 5-1, but 2-4 it became. Onward! Chattanooga rolled into a deadly December dual run that includes road meets with Top 10 powers VA Tech and Iowa State. By way of warmup, the Mocs welcomed MAC power Ohio into Maclellan on the 1st. This is a sweet rivalry that is usually close and competitive throughout. It was again and this one went the Mocs way 19-15. UTC won 6 matches to the Bobcats 4, none more important than upset wins at 133 and 149 by Franco Valdes and Tanner Smith. Once again the Mocs anchors, 125LB Fabian Gutierrez and 197LB Rodney Jones came through with Jones OT victory icing the dual. UTC will not compete at home again until…you guessed it…the Southern Scuffle Jan 1st and 2nd. Good tickets still available!
DAVIDSON DOES THE LESS IS MORE DANCE IN DECEMBER
Last season the Wildcats roared out of their den and started with multiple wins. Success spoiled both Rock Hunter and Andy Lausiers team as they went winless for the rest of the year. This year they’re looking for a reversal of fortune as November yielded an 0-3 start. Just 2 matches all month long for Davidson in December, vs. George Mason(f) and Long Island University on the 6th. Then it’s the Scuffle on Jan. 1st and 2nd. They’ll be well rested if not well tested by then.
VMI “TRYS”, WORKS QUADS
The Keydets load up the plates and go heavy two days in December, as they have 2 matches on Dec 6th and 3 on Dec 22nd. First, its George Mason(f) and LIU in Fairfax, VA. Then, it’s a 3 days before Christmas 3 match event with Edinboro, Hofstra, and host West Virginia in Morgantown. There’s strong ties to the Fightin Scots program as VMI Head Coach Jim Gibson and Assistant Ty Schoffstahl coached and wrestled there respectively. They will open the New Year in beautiful downtown Chattanooga at the Scuffle.
APP STATE HITS DECEMBER HO-HO-HOPING FOR AN UPSET OR TWO
With 4 wrestlers ranked in most if not all the major National polls, BHH HC JohnMark Bentley and his Mountaineers are enjoying this seasons start a whole lot more than last. Whether or not the air up there in Boone stays at getyagiddy levels depends a lot on what happens with the Tar Heel States wrestling Round Robin. It all got rockin this past weekend when the Mountaineers met the North Carolina Tar Heels. App States 4 Top 20 ranked wrestlers took 3 wins and the Mountaineers grabbed another victory as well, but the Tar Heels prevailed 19-13. Next up, an even higher mountain looms as App State takes on Top 10 foe NC State. Tasty, that Tar Heel State wrestling round Robin is.
GARDNER WEBB GETS 2ND WEEKEND DUAL/TOURNEY DOUBLEHEADER
Let’s face it folks, how many cross country junkets are in your budget each season? Fresh off a 6 day, 72 hour drive, West Coast road trip, the Runnin Bulldogs back off the odometer this week. It’s a one state away event when, along with conference foe VMI, GW participates in a tri meet at George Mason(f). Difference for the Bulldogs is, they’ll stick around for the Patriot Open on December 7th. Lock Haven, Army West Point, American, Columbia, host George Mason(f) and SoCon members GW and VMI will all bang heads Sunday the 7th.
CAMELS GO MINING FOR MEDALS MID MONTH IN RENO
After their most recent success, finishing 2nd at the Navy Classic, Campbell was 2nd in the Nation in wins by pin and had half the team ranked in the Top 20. Their next event, the Reno Tournament of Champions, sponsored by FloWrestling, squeezes nearly 20 teams from almost every competition level into a 1 day throwdown. The event starts with a 2 day HS event and culminates with the college action Sunday December 15th. Till then the Camels will lay low, tune up their GPAs and their moves, and get ready to make another move on the National scene at the Midlands months end.
CITADEL FINDS FRYING PAN NOT HOT ENOUGH, HEADS FOR A FIRE IN VEGAS
The Citadel overscheduled in the early part of this season and has paid the price so far. Their one on-paper winnable event, a home dual against conference foe and first year team Presbyterian, looks further away than its Dec. 20th date seems. Maybe that’s because of all the smoke emanating from the Bulldogs next planned competition site. As noted somewhere above in this column, theres no stop bigger, bolder, and badder on the early season wrestling scene than the CKLV. And that’s exactly where the Citadel is headed Dec 6th and 7th to tussle with, oh, about 40 or so teams full of its best wrestling friends, virtually every one of whom would be favored over the Bulldogs in a dual meet. This after the Citadel finished 1 spot lower than next to last at the Navy Classic. Coach Hjerling and Coach Cleveland, just this: leave the women, children and Charlie the mini Aussie at home. This will get ugly.
ALL OVERLOOKED AND UNDERRATED TEAM, 149
Note-the selection of Clarke was made prior to the authors knowledge of the athletes selection for a similar team on the Flowrestling Radio Live Show. After consideration, and with all due respect, the author feels his reasoning for the selection has enough individual merit and the included selection will stand as originally written. TC
149 KIZHAN CLARKE AMERICAN
Here’s a foolproof formula for producing a worthy candidate for this prestigious squad….Have an awesome redshirt season, get a cold slap in the face break-even or much worse official initial campaign, and then go CRAZY. Get tons of wins, beat lots of people most folks besides your homies didn’t think you could, and then have a disappointing end to the highly improved season. Throw in a weight change and you have the makings of something special. Khizan Clarke, COME ON DOWN! An insane 32 win redshirt freshman campaign. Sophomore blues at 16-13. Then, HulkSmash your way to 27 wins and improvement from season beginning to end. Until a 7th place EIWA Tournament finish leaves you back in Washington, DC, while nearly half your team goes to Nationals. Clarke took 157 as far as he could last year, and with 2X National qualifier 149LB Michael Sprague graduated, down drops Clarke. And down goes everybody standing up in front of him this year. 14-0. Champion, Battle at the Citadel. 1st place, American University Round Robin. Conqueror of the Navy Classic. A pin, 2 tech falls, a major and 4 shutouts. There’s a 3 tournament December looming for the talented Eagle junior. First, the George Mason(f) and the Wilkes Open, then an end of the year litmus test at the prestigious, big boy laden Midlands. Show up and show out this month and Clarkes building a case for not just an appearance at Nationals but a seed and a podium shot.
See you next week! Ted Carreras
a. Chattanooga All American, class of 2005. GO MOCS!
b. STILL the greatest, cheesiest, most fun fantasy movie ever. AND with love lines so hokey it makes “The Princess Bride” script blush.
c. Shout out again to the late British actor who conceived, wrote, acted in, produced, and directed the 17 episode cult classic TV series, “The Prisoner.” The Village in this film is way past anything Dow Sherwood or M. Night Shyamalan ever dreamed or nightmared about.
d. Check with Nando down there, Lehigh. He has something for anything that ails you. He truly does, dahling, he truly does. And by now, you know that to the author, Lehigh looks Mah-ve-lous.
e. That would be the Cowboys, not the giant ants from the 1954 Nuclear scare Sci Fi classic or the Far Side cartoon.
f. THANK YOU, over and over, Coach Frank Beasley and the George Mason Patriots, for your availabilty at scheduling time, your willingness to reach out, and for the very fine slogan. Not to mention that the Twitter feed @MrsBeasley is bad to the bone.