OH SAY, CAN YOU, I.O.C., 7 INTO 5 NOT A WHOLE-SUM EQUATION, SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON, AND LOOK AT THE BISON (FROM A SAFE DISTANCE)
2021 TOKYO: YES OR NO?
The bigger question may yet prove to be Beijing 2022, but as of right now the pandemic postponed Summer Games are coming at ya like a Japanese Bullet Train. First team to arrive for the Games was Australias softball squad. The distance, not great, but the preparations and precautions MUST have weighed heavily on the Lady Thunder from Down Under. They’ve been on site for weeks now. Wrestling-wise our compatriots from the Worlds best Island Continent haven’t been a force since, well, never, really. The most recent Aussie medal on the Mat came at the London Games….of 1948. As to which team dominates in Tokyo, it’s a “Keyser Soze”(1) lineup featuring Russia, Iran, The U.S.A., Turkey, Japan, and more -stans than you can fit in a Yurt or a Yugo. Americas chances at scoring the most points teamwise probably went out the window when Team USA didnt qualify to compete at 65kg. We have a great shot though, at medaling in 4 of the 5 classes the Red, White and Blue will be competing in. Our rep at 57kg, 2017 World Silver Medalist Thomas Gilman, will be coming in under the radar, off a foot injury, and on pretty much nobody’s potential medalist list. We like it like that. 2x World Champ Kyle Dake and 2018 titlist David Taylor are serious Gold Medal threats at 74kg and 86kg respectively. Former World and Olympic champ Kyle Snyder may be just a step back at 97kg…or he may just step on the gas. 125kg rep Gable Steveson is a multiple World Champ at age class competitions. Tokyo will be his USA Senior Olympic debut. Hopefully its NOT a one and done, but the WWE and Hollywood are already whispering sweet things in both of his ears. More on Team USA, the Ladies and our Greco Men, in later columns.
IT MUST BE THE NEW MATH, MONEY
Wrestlers typically compete in college on a five year plan. 5 years of matches with a single season, usually their first, not counting against their eligibility. It’s most often, and most importantly, used to prepare young folks fresh out of competitions against 14-17 year olds for the rigors of brutal Hand to hand combat with a bunch of grown-@ss men. There IS a difference, dear readers. Believe it. The numbers crunch for athletic money was taken to a whole new level for this upcoming season by what happened last year. The Pandemic shortened campaign was ruled a “not gonna count” year by the NCAA. That means EVERY wrestler on EVERY teams roster could, theoretically, return THIS year. As a 5th, 6th, or in a number of notable cases, a 7th season of strapping it up for the dear old alma mater. Where it seems to hurt the most is in the incoming crop of new athletes. Monies and spots set aside have been scrambled and in some cases spent. Outstanding potential scholar/athletes are literally twisting in the wind from one end of the country to the other. In checking with notable staffs from Coast to Coast the Scribe heard the same story when one was heard at all. Schools, staffs, and teams will face what seems an embarrassment of experience this season. Along with a laundry list of potential roster pitfalls for several years to come.
SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON
The TwitterVerse has been quivering with excitement with transfer news, wrestling camp updates and huzzahs and chest thumps celebrating off season success for wrestlers and soon to bes. Heres some news and notes to make a SoCon fan smile…
PRESBYTERIAN PUSHES ON
Entering season 5 of the Mark Cody engineered wrestling experience the Blue Hose seem to be settling into the D1 world. Theres a dozen rostered women on the first D1 Female team though only 11 had results posted from last season. 4 of them finished with excellent winning records led by rising star 116lb Jaslynn Gallegos 14-3 mark, 39-6 for her first 2 seasons. Right with her, 155lb Morgan Norris, a near identical 39-9 over 2 campaigns. Another sign of burgeoning Blue Hose success: the geographic reach of their roster. It’s a near Coast to Coast experience with grapplers from West Virginia to Nevada finding their way to the campus. Find one of their young, successful athletes, Ainslee Lane, active on Twitter @ainslane where she dispenses wrestling and cultural wisdom nuggets in equal measure. The Blue Hose men have been quiet this off season so far but sometime between now and next season there should be an assistant coach announcement, perhaps two.
UTC, CITADEL MAKING THE GRADES
Score it high for both the Mocs and the Bulldogs as 3 UTC grapplers grabbed NWCA Academic All American honors. That’s the most in a campaign for the Mocs in six seasons. Also good, all 3, Franco Valdes, Weston Wichman, and Drew Nicholson are back to flex their brains n brawn combo next year. In Charleston, 4 Bulldogs took it to the limit as they hit the Dean’s list with 4.0s. Not too shabby a team G.P.A. showing for the Citadel as well, a very braggable 3.23. Except that Bulldogs don’t brag, they just bite. Just check with Citadel assistant Coach, former Purdue star Luke Welch, @Coach_Welch125. He will set you straight on all things Citadel wrestling, including their tight new logos and color schemes and possibly even their Internet National Championship for #WrestlingshirtADayinMay. Probably. Most definitely.
OVER HERE, OVER THERE, GOOD STUFF EVERYWHERE
North Dakota States big coaching staff shakeup was noted in last years Season 3 columns. Well, Bison dont get big and strong by standing around admiring their progress, folks. More was in store for the Fargo staff this off season as head Bison Roger Kish elevated assistant Obenson “Obe” Blanc to Associate Head Coach. A native of Haiti, Blanc was reunited with his father in Port-Au-Prince when he was 7. A year later they emigrated to the US, ending up a Continent apart. Reuniting in Naples on the Deep Southwest coast of Florida, Blanc found wrestling as a 10th grader. A year later he was a state finalist and national place winner. He capped his Senior campaign with an undefeated State title for the Naples Lely Trojans and a HS National crown. He earned All American status at Lock Haven University. Blanc then starred for the US on the international scene and for Pat Popolizios NC St Wolfpack as an assistant and Director of their Regional Training Center. This year 3 promotion for Blanc is well warranted. Joining, or rather rejoining the Bison is new Volunteer Assistant and former 4x National qualifier Cam Sykora. A big time points getter at the next to smallest weight class Sykora had 55 bonus point wins out of 87 overall for NDSU competing at 133 lbs. And CANNOT let a Bison update go by without a tip of the headgear to their “other” Assistant Coach, the talented and titanic Austin Marsden. Marsdens (@AustinMarsden on Twitter) massive presence had appreciably helped the Bison upperweights. For proof, note NDSUs 285lb Brandon Metz fine regular season and improvement throughout the post season.The upward trend for Metz culminated (so far) in a top 5 Freestyle finish and a Greco Roman Hvt. Championship at Americas U23 Tournament. Hes off to the World U23 Greco Roman Championships this November in Serbia. The Scribe is off the keyboard, at least for now.
See you sometime soon!
(1) The deadly, deliberate, murderous, never seen but always feared character in the excellent plot twisting movie “The Usual Suspects.”