3rd Season, Column 24: Confer-ence crowns both locked down and in Dispute; SoCon News; and Random Ramblings

The Mid American Conference and the Eastern Wrestling League eloped last off season, and the now sprawling Superconference has produced some highly entertaining results. Missouri, Old Dominion, Lock Haven, Rider, and Central Michigan held the Top 5 spots in the Preseason Coaches Poll. Brian Smith’s Tigers have faced two of their ranked brethren and earned wins over Old Dominion and Central Michigan. The Tigers took a 24-8 win over ODU at the South Beach Duals in Ft. Lauderdale and a 25-13 road win at Mt. Pleasant from Tom Borellis Chippewas. They wont face Lock Haven or Rider, and Mizzous 20-12 victory over Cleveland State clinched at least a tie for their 9th straight conference title. Only John Hangeys Rider Broncs can tie them. That’s if Rider wins their last home dual versus Clarion…..AND if Missouri falls to 2-11 SIUE. Kinda looks like another crown, regular season style, is coming to Columbia. Mizzou has lost multiple All American wrestlers and all star coaches from last season and more duals this year than the past 5 campaigns combined. #TigerStyle just keeps on performing, though, and will as long as BHH Head Coach Brian Smith is standing at the gate in Columbia. One addition to the Tigers fold, 2x West VA National qualifier and 3X Missouri state H.S. champion Matthew Schmitt. Schmitts a Grad student transfer who has 2 years of eligibility left. Despite the unlikelihood of catching Missouri, Rider has looked strong and the Broncs hit the weekend at 9-2. There was both hope and expectation that they could challenge BIG 10 power and in state rival Rutgers. First, though, they went down to the wire in a win against former EWL foe Lock Haven. These are two smaller schools with big talent and, well, its Jerzey v. PA mat style. Lots of pride there, and that 3 point win by the #straightouttaLawrenceville crew pushed their win streak to 7. The streak was broken, though, in a hard to swallow 25-6 home loss to homestate rival Rutgers Sunday night. Rider is number 3 in the Garden State again this year, but could end up Top 25 come nationals with a strong finish. The muscle in the middle for the Broncs all year has been 157LB Jesse Dellavecchia. Dellavecchias split matches with fellow Top 10 ranked, state rival Quincy Monday of Princeton, and he led 3 Broncs to the podium and a team 8th place finish at the Southern Scuffle. Dean Sherry at 174 and preseason MAC #1 197LB Ethan Laird will hit the post season in the 20-25 win range. A powerful group of 8 seniors, both starters and high quality backups, have led the Broncs charge through this so far special season. To add “very” to this descriptive the Broncs will need at least 1 more dual meet “w” AND a team podium spot at the 15 squad strong, 2 day long MAC tournament. They’re capable of both. Figuring the number of national qualifiers is a head scratcher right now, but Dellavecchia and Laird seem like locks. Sherry, senior big man Ryan Cloud, and 141LB Peter Lipari, a mid-season transfer from Rutgers, could also earn their way to Minneapolis by great showings at the MAC tourney. Rider is hopeful for both Lipari and Dellavecchia being awarded 1 more season to compete after this campaign closes. As to Central Michigan, the Chippewas handed Rider a beat down conference loss in Lawrenceville way back in December to the tune of 28-10. Since then the Chips have had a true roller coaster of a season. 3 STRONG tournament showings were highlighted by a 6th place finish at the Midlands, WAY up from 11th last year. 4 Chips got up on the podium highlighted by Hvt. Matt Stencels 2nd place finish. Not to brag but this columns author has been big on the CMU big man since oh, his freshman season. He will be, barring catastrophe, a 3X All American and will finish Top 5 all time for CMU in wins, pins, and everything else statistically relevant. CMU came out hot to start the seasons 2nd half but not hot enough to cook the then unbeaten Top 5 ranked Hokies. #DaDirtyBirdz from Blacksburg landed spurs-first in Mt. Pleasant and scratched out a 4 point ‘w” over CMU. It became bad with a 7 point conference road loss to NIU and got worse when Mizzou came to town and left with a 12 point triumph over the Chips. Coach Borelli then brought his squad out of a mid season, well, not slump, but maybe a case of the hiccups. Its 5 straight wins for CMU now heading into the end of the season match against Michigan State. That one is for The Mitten States D1 wrestling silver medal. Kent State became the 7th conference victim of the Chips as CMU stopped the Golden Flashes 27-12. As always this year the Chippewas bookenders, 125LB Drew Hildebrandt and Stencel opened and closed the Chips efforts with wins. Hildebrandt is 27-3, Stencel just behind at 25-4. 141LB Dresden Simons season has really highlighted the MACs overall conference strength. Simon recently dealt Evan Cheek of Cleveland State his first dual loss of the season. One of Cheeks 30 wins this year was over Ohios National qualifier Shakur Laney, who beat Simon 8-7 in OT less than 2 weeks ago. And theres Riders Lipari. And did someone mention AA Grant Leeth of Missouri, also battling to stay in the 141LB MAC race? WHOA. One more Chippewas note: a lone senior starter this season, 157LB National qualifier Logan Parks, 17-10, 6-3 in conference. With 2018-19 165LB starter Bret Fedewa hopefully returning from injury, the Chips, in the MAC, are in it to at least place in it.


The pecking order for the regular season SoCon title is settling into place and will likely be settled Thursday the 13th. Thats the meeting date for defending Tournament Champ Campbell and 2019 regular season tri-champ Appalachian State. The Camels and the Mountaineers have taken turns the past 2 weekends all but eliminating fellow regular season tri champ UTC from title consideration. App State went into Chattanooga and left with a 15 point win. Then Campbell invited the Mocs over and proved to be rude hosts as they also handed UTC a 15 point defeat. The winner of this weeks Buies Creek donnybrook is easily the odds on favorite to take the regular season crown. And folks, just because the Camels won this matchup in a 19-17 thriller last year on the road, don’t count App State out. Yousefs(a) crew has taken 4 out of 5 from Campbell when the Mountaineers have visited the Camels and lead the rivalry 9-2. In depth late season looks at both squads came out in last weeks column, and this match will be the feature tilt of this season for the conference. For UTC, this year the third leg on the SoCon stool, it’s been a season of “so close yet so far.” The Mocs have been right there without making that step to otherwhere just a few too many times to call this a fully successful season…yet. Swing a couple one and 2 point losses the Mocs way and they have wins over Army and Illinois and a shot at a winning dual meet season. A proper 3rd act for “The Kyle Ruschell Initiative, Season 2” would consist of wins against the Citadel and Indiana and a reversal of fortune versus some beatable App St and Campbell opponents at the SoCon Tournament. UTC has battled all season long and their conference losses say more about those foes steady build up than any flaw on the Mocs part. The team closest to the SoCons big 3 may very well be VMI this year. The Keydets are in position to have a winning conference record and possess a legitimate All American candidate in 174LB “Nasty” Neal Richards. They had a sparkling 3rd place showing at the All Academy Championships. Their end of season roster retention is up from 17 last year to 22 this time around and they have earned multiple wins over non-conference foes. The Keydets honor their seniors this week, and, with 5 duals left, can nearly double their win total from a season ago. Not quite so for the Citadel, Gardner-Webb, and Davidson. These schools all carry the weighty burdens of highly selective enrollment, smaller rosters, stringent academic standards, and in the case of G-W and Davidson, brutally hard in state recruiting wars. YOU try bringing in your home states best going up against the “come with us” pitches from NC State, UNC, Campbell, and App State. For Gardner-Webb, 2020s highlight so far came in Februarys 2nd weekend as the Runnin’ Bulldogs tripled their season win total in 2 days. The Dogs made it “Blue on Blue, Heartache on Heartache”(b) as they dumped the Duke Blue Devils and peeled off the Presbyterian Blue Hose. As has been the case all season senior Roderick Davis led the way. Davis bumped up to 285 to seal the win vs. Presbyterian and also clinched the Duke match with a 1 point win at his regular wt. class, 197. To be fair G-W picked up 4 forfeit wins in the 2 duals, but, hey, they came to wrestle, right? 4 matches left on the schedule, they will be favored in just 1. Win that and thats one more “w” than last year, and only 2 seniors, Davis and Jacob Reames, leave the 26 man roster after 2020. The Citadel has a legitimate shot at a .500 season, no small feat for the small military school from Charleston, South Carolina. They’ve also enjoyed fine individual seasons from senior 285LB Mike McAleavey and soph. 165LB Dazjon “Cheese” Casto. Casto has a good shot at a 25 win campaign and a chance for a SoCon finals berth. He missed the All Academy Championships and an opportunity to square off against nationally ranked Randy Meneweather of Air Force, but did go 4-1 at the Edinboro Open. A dozen Citadel underclassmen have logged significant mat time this year, helping to offset the difficult senior seasons of Doug Gudenburr and Martin Duane. MIA all year, tough Rian Burris, a 25 match winner last year, still rostered but not wrestling in what would have been his final season. McAleavey, Burris, Duane and Gudenburr all say good-bye, and theres no headlined story trumpeting the incoming class. So its finish strong, Citadel, and maybe sneak somebody into the Nationals. IF its Casto, and if he can turn in an effort anywhere near what he did at the CKLV, it just might inspire some tough Midwest grapplers to take a long look from a cold place at the warm, deep South of lovely(c) Charleston. Meanwhile, 1 state north, the Davidson Wildcats are showing signs of life under the tutelage of Coaches Andy Lausier, Joey Dance, and Chad Walsh. They stand 1 win away from equaling their victory totals from the last 2 seasons. They are still paper-thin on experience, fielding 3 seniors and a junior, and roster depth. Thats 3 seniors on an 18 man squad. YO. Since its Davidson, you know those papers are littered with high grades and no red marks. Since its Davidson, you know it won’t be pretty when da big boyz show up on the schedule. Example(s): App State, loss, 41-3; UTC, loss, 47-0; Pitt (Pitt? Really, Davidson, PITT? What were you thinking? Probably not 51-(-)1. Which happened). Anywhoo, the drive for excellence from the Wildcats wrestlers cannot be doubted, and the skill sets and work ethic their coaching staff possess are unquestioned. What remains unanswered as year 3 of the Lausier era heads towards 1 more potential win (Gardner-Webb, Feb 16th) and a definite beat down (Campbell, Feb. 23rd, it was 42-(-)1 last season) is this. Can anyone bring in enough high academic standards athletes to a “selective, prestigious liberal art college” where applicants GPAs AVERAGE 3.9 and the student body size is less than half of a large TX high school? The jury is out on that one. Fortunately, given the strength of the pre law program there, good chance some of those judges are wearing Wildcats colors under their robes. What they are probably not wearing is the colorful plaid of the SoCons, and Americas, newest D1 wrestling team, the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Frankly, not many at all are wearing those colors, as there are just 15 athletes each on the mens and womens roster. That both squads have been competitive in their first ever seasons is amazing in and of itself. That the Presbyterian women are 6-6 is nothing short of miraculous. Womens wrestling at the collegiate level is growing rapidly in a variety of directions and one of the results is that there will be several national champions, both team and indivduals, crowned this season at various sites and times. The Blue Hose women spent last weekend in Marietta, Georgia, competing at the WCWA Nationals. 116LB Jaslynn Gallegos and 143LB Morgan Norris both grabbed Gold there. 2 National champs in year 1, Coach Dany Deanda and Director of Wrestling Mark Cody? What can be said except Sacre’ Bleu Hose!(d) The mens team has a win under their stylish stockings as well, a 44-0 shutout of Truett McConnell in a very cleverly scheduled home opener. Obviously, theres nowhere to go but up for these two young squads, and with Cody and the Coaches Deanda, heights will be reached.


Big Lous back, and we dont mean the famous table sized pizza producing joint here in SA. 184LB Lou DePrez returned with a vengeance for Binghamton with a decision, a major decision, a forfeit win and a tech fall after an absence. Now if the Bearcats can get some of their last year late season mojo back, they may yet make something of this campaign. Theyll probably have to find somebody to fill 165 and 174, though.

Disturbing tidbit from the one gifted with gab and great hair as Ben “Funky” Askren noted verbal gloom from UNI Coach Doug Schwab about the hopes for a return for the “Hog”, 2018 197LB AA Jacob Holschlag. If the Hog is no go, there goes UNIs top 10 finish.

The 30 win club picked up some new members, as American University 149LB Kihzan Clarke and the aforementioned CSU Viking Evan Cheek broke the barrier for the season. As to the career 100 wins group, some have joined since last writing and some were certainly missed. Like National champ and 3X finalist Mark Hall (who?) of Penn State, Tanner Hall of Arizona State, Patricio Lugo of Iowa (Edinboro), Max Thomsen of Northern Iowa, and Colston DiBlasi of George Mason (IA ST).

See You next week!

Ted Carreras

(a) Yousef, the giant, loveable, but fierce bearded, musket-wielding mascot of App State. Don’t run, unless you’re faster than 1200 ft/s…..

(b) THE classic Bobby Vinton “love lost” song from 1963. Your parents weren’t old enough to know they even wanted to make you yet. We hope.

(c) The Scribe has no personal knowledge of this city and is simply relying on 350 years of generally positive reviews.

(d) From the French. For surprise, not exasperation or dismay.

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