Team USA is looking gnarly as our Mens and Womens Freestyle and Mens Greco-Roman are deep into preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. The long, arduous process to select our 3 squads has seen more bumps, bruises, knockdowns and get-ups than a Sugar Ray Robinson-Jake LaMotta fight. Getting the first punch in was the Chinese Virus, and it hit hard. The entire sports world suffered a 3 month to full years hiccup. Even as wrestling used a range of events for a rolling start to the 2020-21 season its publicly perceived penultimate event, the Olympics, were in danger of not occuring until just recently. Thank God for the strength and resiliency of our middle school, high school, college and RTC athletes, coaches, and (in MOST cases) administrations. We DID get to enjoy a magnificent season that had so many “WOW” moments. Simultaneously our Senior level athletes did what they do best: they kept at it and kept getting better at it. Not like they didn’t have an obstacle or two hundred, mind you. A suprising sidetrack to the process of putting our best sugarfoot forward for Tokyo 2021 was a last minute announcement concerning qualifying standards. AFTER several MONTHS of freewheeling, winner take all events across ALL styles and ALL ages of competition (GOOD!) came the completely unexpected statement that these results would ALL go directly into the seeding decisions for our team trials events. BAD! BAD SEEDING COMMITTEE! No soup FOR YOU! Oh well, onward, and after a last chance qualifier event in Ft. Worth that had its own little quirk (“True second place” matches) it was a supremely confident and extraordinarily talented crew of Senior level men and women that formed our Tokyo team. And, while the U.S. ended up with a formidable squad across all 3 teams, there’s not much doubt that our Womens Freestyle squad is leading this particular charge. That’s where this column will start a 3 part thumbnail sketch on our teams for Tokyo 2021.
USA WRESTLING TOKYO 2021- WOMENS FREESTYLE
Theres World and Olympic Champions and multi event medalists filling each and every weight class for our American women. Five time World Champion Adeline Gray (76kg), Olympic and World Champion Helen Maroulis (57kg), and World ChampionsTamyra Mensah-Stock (68kg) and Jacarra Winchester (53kg) may be the biggest of big names of this bad-ass(1) group of women but it is a FULL team of terrors. At 50kg is multiple time World Medalist Sarah Hildebrandt (@sarhilde Twitter and Instagram). Shes been carrying the Red, White and Blue to victory for 8 years and has had her Coach, Brad Harper, in her corner from the jump. Its been a great year already for the Hildebrandt clan. A few weeks before Sarahs amazing 3 match Trials finals win over WCAP (2) star Jenna Burkert, brother Drew made All American at the NCAAs by finishing 4th in the 125lb class for Central Michigan. Amazing all around. Then there’s miraculous, as in @miraculouskc, our 62kg posterior rearranger, Kayla Miracle. Ms. Miracles list of honors and accomplishments are a column unto themselves, so, briefly-3x World Medalist, 4x collegiate national champion, multiple international place winning athlete for 10 yrs, etc., etc. Theres more than an outside chance that this steel-hard band of sisters will roll into Tokyo ready and stroll out with wins and medals in virtually every weight class. YES, Tokyo is the Dragons den of Womens Wrestling. Yes, Japan is THE undisputed Queen of Womens Freestyle Wrestling. And YES-THAT home cave, AND that fully earned, highly deserved reputation, is now looking right at a band of bad ass(1), sword swinging AMERICAN VALKYRIES. Aint nobody blinkin, folks. Going to be a war. DragonsBlood, please, straight up. Make it a TRIPLE.
SMALL NOTES ON THE BIG BOYS
By now you probably know the Iowa Hawkeyes regained the top spot in D1 college wrestling with a thrilling performance at the NCAAs. The Hawkeyes went old school and sewed up the title before the Finals where only 125lb Spencer Lee won for Iowa. Penn State went a spectacular 4 for 4 in the championship round to take 2nd, with Oklahoma State 3rd and Arizona State 4th. The absence of former finalist Stevan Micic cost the Michigan Wolverines a podium spot, dropping MGoBlue into 5th. Meanwhile, 2 HIGHLY questionable calls went sour for NC State as the WolfPack, a STRONG candidate for Top 4 heading in, finished 6th. Rounding out the Top 10 were Missouri and Minnesota in a tie for 7th with Ohio State 9th and Northwestern 10th. After the fantastic performances and Chinese Virus clear operations at the three day event, the most special occurence was easily the performance of Stanford sophomore Shane Griffith. He captured the hearts and engaged the minds of sports fans everywhere, winning the 165lb title. That a decision was made somewhere by some people to terminate Stanfords wrestling team, along with 10 other high performing squads, could not stop Griffith from climbing the D1 wrestling mountain. He and his teammates wore all black singlets to share their displeasure (at least) at that decision with the world. Meetings concerning that situation are occuring as this is being written. PLEASE check KSW, Keep Stanford Wrestling, AND 36 Sports Strong, in your thoughts & on your keyboards. What seems at the editors station already, though, is the book “13 Years of Acclaim and Pain: Stanford Wrestling”, by Jason Borelli. The main architect of the Cardinal ascension to PAC 12 wrestling powerhouse and multi purposed proponent of the greatness of a Palo Alto education was just announced as the new head wrestling coach at American University. WOWSERS. What this means, if anything, for the survival of Stanford wrestling is not yet public knowledge. Concerning the nationwide groundswell to keep the 11 sports and Stanfords foot dragging, “trust the process…and get a team of suits that can serve them.”
HE WENT WHERE? SHES DOING WHAT?
Column favorite and writing/broadcasting smoothie Earl Smith stepped away from one fine media site to help make another one even better. Earl took his talents from The Open Mat to Intermat shortly after wrestling writing/reportings own BHHHC(3) Willie Saylor assumed financial control of Earls new home. Its kind of like moving the Starship Enterprise from one Earth orbit to another. We’re well served in either case. Having worked in a dozen different fields in 4 states and 3 distinctly different regions in this country one can relate. Stepping into those recently emptied size 16 TripleH The Open Mat brogans, one Christopher Miller. A rare DoubleCat with degrees from both Ohio University and Northwestern Miller has covered sports at both NYU and Pitt in addition to his alma maters. Tough act to follow, Christopher, we all look foward to your work. Twitter him up @C_Miller_atTOM. Keep your ears open, also, for a new podcast coming soon. Gabrielle Lord-Klein, creator and publisher of Transition Wrestling, the first/best source for Womens Wrestling news, let drop on her long form interview with Jason Bryant about just such an endeavor. It should be both informative and fun.
WINE-DING DOWN WITH THE SCRIBE
Back for another season is this columns informal and highly irregular (in both style and frequency) guide to the beverage of the Gods. Here, in an updated review with a more accurate and more relatable ratings system, we have an old fave…
GRAND VIN DE BORDEAUX. 2018. CHATEAU DE SEGUIN
The 3rd go round for this fine Trader Joe’s surprise upholds its rating. Bordeaux are held to a high standard in the wine world and generally hold a price point out of range for the author even when gainfully employed. The $11.98 sticker has, happily, remained for months. Also remaining is its ability to mix and match well with chicken, roasted or pan fried as well as a simple pork sausage. It made a brunch of charro and borracho beans with diced and shaved vegetables special. The liver and sweet potato/russet wedge with garlic dinner was pleased with its presence as well. Typically, Bordeaux is a wine bridge too wide and far for the Scribe to cross, but the trip to this bottle was a walk made special, not spoiled.
THE RATINGS, BY GLASS-
.5 Drank it. Won’t buy it. If offered, will politely refuse. 1.0 Drank it. Might buy it. If offered, might say yes, might say no. 1.5 Drank it. Liked it. Would buy it. If offered, yes, thank you. 2.0 Drank it. Liked it a lot. Would buy it and look for it. If offered, yes, please, thank you very much. 2.5 Drank it. Loved it. Buy it, hunt for it. Tell friends about it. If offered, OF COURSE. If not offered, politely ask. Hug optional. 3.0. Drank it, entranced by it. Buy more than 1. Hunt it, order it, tell strangers about it. If offered, OF COURSE. Ask for a larger glass. If not offered, consider pleading. Hug mandatory, gift suggested.
‘CUE THE LOCAL (FOR NOW) ANGLE
At the 8 years young “meat, beer and fun” BBQ HQ on San Antonios North Central side (just North of Hardberger Park, FYI) a passel of wrestling parents, fans, and alumni of enlightened(4) schools across the USA enjoyed some late Spring & Early Summer chowdowns. The local chapter of the Air Force Academy parents held their Spring celebration on a big back porch full of food, fun, family, friends and sunshine. On the scholastic side the Weslaco Panthers and the Churchill Chargers both made pit stops the past two weeks during their respective successful post-season runs. Good luck at state to these fine young men and women and, of course, to ALL our Region 4 reps.
See you sometime soon!
(1) If Gabrielle Lord Klein (also known as the Victorious GLK) can drop this descriptive of our Womens team on Jasons Bryants podcast, we can drop it here.
(2) World Class Athletes Program, where outstanding military men and women serve our country while sharpening their international mat savvy.
(3) Bald Headed Hero Head Coach. NOT putting the 🧠 in the Cael Sanderson/Sean Bormet/John Mark Bentley/Sam Barber/Jon Sioredas/Tony Robie/Damion Hahn ranks yet. Just sayin.
(4) You know, schools that applaud AND support their teams.