Between Seasons, Column 31: Murder most foul; Secret Scraps and Season resets; Folks who found new homes; and Westward Ho from San Antonio

EXECUTION, EXPECTED

Even the hardest of hard core wrestling fans would have been hard pressed to know of the plight of Navid Afkari. A championship level Greco Roman wrestler from Iran,(1) Afkari and 2 of his brothers had been arrested in 2018 on a variety of charges. These included conspiracy, illegal protesting, defamation, and the murder of an Iranian Military Guard member. This went virtually unnoticed until just recently, when the Iranian regime found themselves with a very leveragable situation. A group of helpless hostages whose very existence was a whim to the Mullahs. Hostages whose fates were suddenly and very visibly a cause celebre for the Western World. Our World, that they alternately loathe, despise, fear, and are envious of. Nothing could have been more joyous to the Iranian regime. Those who thought this was a unique situation should harken back not just to the 1979 hostage crisis, but rather to Thomas Jeffersons presidency. The 3rd President of the United States, disgusted with Middle East piracy, hostage taking and wanton executions of Western military and civilians, sent in the Marines. In 1803! Do the words “To the Shores of Tripoli” ring a bell? This cultural conflict has a history nearly as long as our sport. Did anyone really think that Nafkari would be spared? A torture-induced (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a Wall St. Journal Op-ed attested to this) series of “confessions” gave the Iranian regime an opening, and they ripped Nafkaris life away through it. What next? Probably the same thing that occurred in 1968 when the great Iranian champion Golam Rheza Takhti was found dead in his hotel room. The greatest wrestler in Iranian history, who won medals across a decade and a half worth of World and Olympic championships, won the love of Iran but the ire of the Shah. His death was ruled a suicide, but the Savak, the Shahs Secret Police, were heavily rumored to be involved. The only lesson learned here is one that the West hasn’t learned in 215 years. Regardless if Iran is ruled by a semi secular dictatorship or a Caliphate, give the regime an inch and they’ll take a foot. Or a neck.

THERES WRASSLIN ON THEM THAR ROOFTOPS

And hotel rooms. And ballrooms. For the past 2 months or so wrestlers at every level have finally begun to return to action, and folks pretty much everywhere are oh so happy. Wrestling based charitable organizations, independent event organizers, and Regional Training Centers have all tried their hand at producing cards, and more are on the horizon. While this helps slake the thirst for domestic based high quality competition somewhat, the swirling winds of change blowing around international events are still a bit concerning. UWW, United World Wrestling, has canceled the World U23 Championships for this yr, and remains mum on the Junior World Championships. Here in ‘Murica, wrestlers dont care. USA Wrestling is full speed ahead for Championships the weekend of Oct. 8-11 in Coralville,(2) Iowa. With the 6 Olympic weight classes to be contested, in mens and women’s freestyle and mens Greco-Roman. BOOYAH! Credit where credit is due: the Flowrestling crew is front and center on this one, streaming the 3 day event live. LOTS of intriguing matchups in all weight classes. Fantastic competitions with a number of suprising results have been put on already this fall by such diverse organizations/individuals as Beat the Streets New York, The Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, and MMA star/Marketing Guru/SmackOff Champ Chael Sonnen. The aforementioned “F” team is staging a series of 8 man brackets in a variety of weight classes with two upcoming, a 150 lb and a 195 lb tournament. There’s even payouts in cashmoney for the competitors. The Hawkeye Wrestling Club is setting up their own mega event for November 1st. Strange and wonderful bedfellows indeed. Come one, come all, and go for the fall!

SAFE LANDINGS

The most recent edition of this column postulated on the at-times unexplained and oft troubling trend this past off season of coaches and athletes making sudden and in many cases somewhat unexpected departures. Fortunately, the last 2 months have given us much good news to celebrate. While Joel Sharratts departure at Navy was coming (at Navy, if you lose to Army much, you lose your job) not too many saw Cary Kolat standing on the bridge in Annapolis. Coming with Kolat from his staff at Campbell are Mike Evans and Blaize Cabell, while Dan Neff and Loyd Rogers were retained from the previous staff. The assassination of the Old Dominion program saw coach/uber-recruiter Daryl Thomas join new Campbell head coach Scotti Sentes (Riverdale, FL, baby!) at the Camel shack on Buies Creek. Then from the Michigan State staff in came Wynn, as in Michalak, as in (like Scottie) a stud athlete/coach from Tom Borellis Central Michigan teams back in the day. The Sentes/Dixon/Michalak trio is a formidable group off and on the mat and keeps the level of the SoCon (Southern Conference) coaching staffs on an upswing. The SoCon also swapped out some coaches at App State and the Citadel. App State Co Head Assistant Coaches Ryan Leblanc and Josh Roosa both left Boone. Leblanc became the main man at the Citadel, replacing 2 decade plus Bulldogs HC Rob Hjerling. Roosa is now the Head Coach at Kings College in PA. Citadel 4 year mat star Sawyer Root (Harmony, FL, Baby!) starts his coaching career this year at Newberry College, like the Citadel a South Carolina school. Also about the Mountaineers, former App St. Star Randall Diabe moves from the volunteer position to assistant. Making a big move, from Corvallis, Oregon, to Boone, North Carolina, one Ian Miller. The well traveled, 3X AA from Kent State had a 4 year run as Jim Zaleskys assistant but when the Oregon State staff was axed, Miller went coastal, bringing his amazing style and talent to the SoCon.(3) Over at Gardner-Webb Roderick Davis segues from team member to grad assistant. Ryan Hunsberger comes aboard at VMI after great success at the scholastic and club level in the Keydets home state of Virginia. That’s a quality pickup for Head Coach Jim Gibson.(4) The staffs at the Scribes beloved UTC (GO MOCS!), Davidson, and Presbyterian are unchanged for the upcoming season. More changes of note: former OK St. 2XAA, USA wrestling Greco Roman star, AND former Air Force Director of Wrestling Operations Chandler Rogers is now current Little Rock assistant. Rogers is yet another branch on the coaching tree(5) of legend in his and our time John Smith. Luke Smith, no relation, is the new big bird at Bakersfield, as Manny Rivera relinquished the Roadrunners reins to his newly hired chief assistant.

RANDOM RAMBLINGS

Huzzah X3 to Ohio States Kaleb Romero, Fritz Schierl, and Zach Steiner for getting the Grad School thing going while staying matside for the Buckeyes. In Laramie it went down differently, but still great. Goodbye, 2X AA Montorie Bridges, face of the Wyoming Cowboys for years. Hello Montorie Bridges, Grad student, future Federal Law Enforcement star(6) and face of fear for current and future scumbags everywhere. SHOUT OUT-Pharr, TXs own lightweight star, Diego Olivera, saving the life of a WalMart co-worker his first day on the job. PIONEERING EFFORTS PAYING OFF. Wow, you go, Coach John Clark and the Sacred Heart Pioneers mens-AND WOMENS-wrestling teams. The incredible efforts and equally amazing results of this Coach and the school and community have been lauded in this column for several years now. Now, it seems, they’re everywhere. Catch the story of this squad, its growth, installment of a women’s Division 1 squad, plans for a Regional Training Center, and much more. Find their story on platforms such as TrackWrestling, IA Wrestle, The Mat Talk Online Newsletter, and soon, in the latest issue of How to Do It Magazine, where Coach C will share his secret recipe for a killer flourless chocolate cake.(7) GET BETTER QUICK-to Former US military star, OSU AA, and martial arts mainstay Randy Couture, recovering from injuries stemming from an ATV accident. Same same to Iowa AA star wrestler/coach Ryan Morningstar, victim of a stroke.

DOIN THE 90 DRIVE

Most folks get in and out of San Antonio via 10 (East/West) or 35 or 281 (North/South). Theres a highway, though, that will provide a quality drive and a true TX taste. While US 90 gets going a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, and has great stuff before it hits the Lone Star State, this story concerns its exit from the Southwest side of the Alamo City on its way to a western end in Van Horn. The rolling fields of Southwest Bexar County give way in short order in a zippy trip to a town called the France of Texas. Castroville was established over 175 years ago primarily by settlers from the Alsace region, and its under 3,000 small town charm is bracketed by history and bolstered by nature. A slew of historic sites abound. Catch the architecture and ambience of the Hotel Jarde, established in 1852. Enjoy a tasty French dish at the Alsatian Restaurant, or a tummy yummy (or two, DO NOT miss the lemon bars) at Habys Bakery. There’s an old fashioned swimming hole, the wandering wet wonder that is the Medina River, and plenty of small shops to spend/waste money/time in. So get off the Interstate and get on down Highway 90. And theres fun beyond Castroville. That’s for a later column.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) This is IN NO WAY a reflection of the Iranian people, whom the author has always found to be as amazing a race as exists anywhere. The problem for the West and Western ideals has always been the Regime, NOT the people.

2. A suburb of Iowa City, Coralville, IA is sister city to Mountaintop, FL and DahmHott, AK.

3. The Scribe caught Millers high flying act at the 2015 Southern Scuffle, where Ian unfortunately suffered one of his many injury defaults.

4. Catch the excellent, no coach speak style of Coach Gibson and key assistant Ty Schoffstahl in the 3rd Season, Column 12 edition of this column (11/18/19)

5. Starting to look like a Banyan from here, Coach Smith.

6. Following in the law enforcement footsteps of his father and uncle.

7. Coach Clark will also reveal his tricks for best-ever Abelskiver pancakes that he talked Brandon Eggum out of. Hopefully. Probably not.