Sisyphus, that mythological Greek doomed to push a massive boulder uphill only to have it forever roll down, could very well be the USA Greco Teams mascot. Amazing athletes, talented coaches, years of planning and sacrifices of immense personal and financial nature have woven themelves into a fabric of futility for our Greco team. The heady days of Dennis Hall, Matt Ghaffari, Matt Lindland and Brandon Paulson are distant memories. The World and/or Olympic titles of Steve Fraser, the late Jeff Blatnick, Rulon Gardner and Dremiel Beyers are cherished but hold little weight in Americas collective sports consciousness. For over a decade the USA Greco Team has had heartbreak and suffered salt poured into their wounds. Our medal total since 2010? A silver for Superheavyweight Adam Coon(1) in 2018 and back to back Bronzes for Andy Bisek in 2014 and 2015. The last time team USA seriously challenged the world, we SHOCKED the World, taking the Team Greco Roman title in 2007. This colossal achievement remains Americas ONLY team Greco Roman Championship. It was truly a team effort, also, as the USA had no champs and just 3 medalists. For any number of reasons Greco Roman wrestling has always been a stepchild in the American athletic family and, until recently, in this column. However, the latest group of G-R stalwarts may very well be perched on the edge of American sports consciouness. The teams skill set and socio-cultural makeup are meshing with a rejuvenated American awareness on immigration, race and the true role of the military as protectors of our way of life. Our Tokyo team is small in number with only 4 wrestlers out of a possible 6 qualified for competition. It is, however, large indeed in purpose and determination. The true measure of the men currently comprising Team USA Greco will come over the next 4 years, or “quad”, leading into and including Paris 2024. How the top 3 at all 10 wt. classes(2) fare both domestically and internationally during that time frame can set an important standard. A standard that the World in general, and American sports fans in particular, may very well enjoy, applaud and most importantly remember. Here are the 4 men who will take the Red, White and Blue into upper-body battle in Tokyo.
60kg/Ildar Hafizov, Army WCAP
67kg/Alejandro Sancho, Army WCAP
87kg John Stefanowicz, Marines
97kg G’Angelo Hancock
For incredibly deep and thoughtful reading/listening on our team, its history and its potential, you are directed to the excellent website/podcast 5 Point Move. For equally free and hopefully more easily digestible previews find Greco Roman writeups on our stars in the following earlier columns….. Season 4, Column 5 5/9/21 Season 4, Column 4 5/4/21
SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON
Looks like the Southern Scuffle is a go, folks, so start setting your schedule for Jan 1st and 2nd in Chattanooga. Of course the UTC Mocs, the host team, will be front and center, aiming for their 1st Top 10 finish since 2012. So far the Scribe has learned NC State, North Dakota State, The Citadel, VMI and George Mason have opted in for THE big event that kicks off January 2022. This column will provide as extensive coverage as possible for a free and non monetized site concerning the grappling and good times in the Scenic City. Heres the first of many Scuffle team features.
PATRIOTS ACTING BRAVELY, PLANNING BOLDLY
George Mason has their priorities straight. The Patriots, in Coach Frank Beasleys 5th season, are expecting a massive uptick in regular season results and even more in post season accolades. On a recent recruiting road trip, Coaches Beasley, Mike DePalma and Camden Eppert shared serious enthusiasm for the George Mason game plan and their implementation of it. And why not? Last years the Patriots placed 5 at the challenging MAC Tournament and finished just outside the Top Ten. GMU really shined in the classroom as the Patriots earned the 5th highest Team G.P.A. in Division 1 wrestling with 5 wrestlers making the MAC All Academic team. When queried the staff as a whole simply stated a lofty goal: finish in the Top 25, team scoring, at the National Championships. That, folks, is a BIG jump. From here that seems the conclusion of 3 more seasons of progress, not 1, but the Scribe is not scrapping in that room. Assistant Coach DePalma is and the former Edinboro star and Kent St. All American has an overriding rule for that space. EVERYBODY going HARD for all 7 minutes. They’re not there yet, according to sources, but they’re getting closer all the time. A bunch of fresh faces went to war for the Patriots last season. 9 of their 11 true freshmen saw action with mostly predictable results. Their two most experienced men, redshirt senior Tahla Farooq and Grad student Alex Madrigal, never sniffed action. The school couldn’t even compete until January 21st due to restrictions, concerns, etc. In 2021s greatly shortened season, George Mason had almost as many matches canceled as they wrestled. Without a dual meet win last year theres plenty of room for positive movement. 3 Patriots posted winning individual records led by sophomore 133lb Josh Jones 10-5 mark. Presbyterian transfer 197lb Austin Stith found some traction and has 2 more seasons in the Green and Gold in one of the nations deepest weight classes. GMU wrestling really stood up again off the mat as the team posted the highest percentage of alumni donations of all the schools sports teams. As to on mat competition they’ll start right in the thick of it with The Hokie Open November 7th. 2 weeks later its the Shorty Hitchcock Memorial. The Patriots will host their own Open, sponsored by ARMS Software, on December 5th before coming to Chattanooga for their 4th tournament in 8 weeks. Hey, you have to go hard, far, and often when your motto is “BE UNCOMMON”. The Patriots are doing those things and being that team.
See you sometime soon!
(1) Coon barely held off uber talented Arizona St. freshman Cohlton Schultz for the right to rep the US at 130kg. Now Adam has taken his talents to the N.F.L. and the top spot for Greco Roman Heavyweight may be up for grabs.
(2) For the 3 years between Olympics wrestling is contested at 10 wt. casses for Greco Roman and Mens and Womens Freestyle. At each Olympiad the I.O.C. shrinks that down to 6 wt classes for the 3 styles. The organization that shouts diversity, inclusion, and opportunity for all cuts 40 PER CENT of the Worlds most athletically talented men and women out of the picture.