The great state of North Dakota is once again, and for the umpteenth year, playing host to hundreds of coaches, a thousand or more wrestlers, and millions of dreams. Americas aspiring young mat stars will slug it out in Fargo. Competition is held in both international styles of wrestling, Freestyle and Greco-Roman. Their tangible prize: a large, gorgeous wood and metal stop sign. It indicates they put a halt to every other champions hopes for this tournament in their respective weight class. Its that rarest of opportunities: to be able to conclusively say that for this glorious fortnite, they ruled as the best of the best. To their coaches, its affirmation of direction and effort for both their stars and the states they wrestle for. And, for the college recruiters in attendance, its days and days and nights of non stop shop till you drop. Officially, its the United States Marine Corps Junior and 16U Nationals, with 17 weight classes for the 16U group, 15 for the Juniors. Every athlete who places here is a hot prospect, folks. Every single media member, fan blogger, or bleacher buzzard makes this pilgrimage, or needs to. Call it crazy, call it overblown, call it Mat Mecca for ‘Murica, but at least once call it your Summer Vacation plan. Not this year, ND, but soon, very soon.(1)
BIG SUCCESS, SMALL SCHOOL STYLE
Attention college bound wrestlers, especially those with pre-med plans and/or an interest in a top flight liberal arts education. There’s a school you might not know of but need to. A small school with a big time wrestling legacy, great financial aid options, close to major metropolitan (read: high employment options) areas, and the best Philly Cheeseteak in America. OK, only 3 of those things are really accurate, but they’re the important ones in Collegeville, PA, home to Ursinus. Founded four years after the Civil War, Ursinus has 60 courses of study and competes in the Division III Centennial Conference. Head Coach Joe Jamison heads into year 3 after a decade of the grind that helped produce the current greatness for Princeton and Chris Ayres. Ursinus finished Top Ten in the very tough Northeast Regionals last season and are looking for more. For a nice personal from the inside look at the Bears catch 125lb Will Schwartz’s interview with Kevin McGuigan, Philly Wrestling Podcast episode 15. Ursinus is 170 green acres of old school academic options and modern directions. And when you do check them out, please don’t bring up Coach Jamisons questionable Pro Baseball fan choice. It seems to be one of his rare failures(2).
Staffs are filling up all around the country. New American University Coach Jason Borrelli reached out to an old friend and coaching compatriot, bringing Alex Tirapelle back to the East Coast. Tirapelles experience as an ex head coach at Penn, a conference rival, and his time in the Big 10 and Pac 12 will serve A-U very well indeed. American Universitys hiccups over the past 18 months have been many and difficult. Head Coach Teague Moore was abruptly out. A-U had no dual season, wrestling only in the E.I.W.A. tournament. Only 3 Eagles competed with 2 advancing to Nationals. It was truly a lost season. Also gone during the past year and a half time frame were Coaches Erik Wince and Jeric Kasunic. Kasunic, a pinning machine for American and a 2x national qualifier, is currently with Accenture. National qualifier and stud 184lb Tanner Harvey sat the year out, then grad transfered to Oregon State. Also now at another school, national qualifier 149lb Khizan Clarke,(3) wearing North Carolina blue for his last season on the mat and 1st grad year as a law student. The GOOD news? Tirapelle coming over to get back with Borelli. With a fresh start in a new part of the country the talented duo should help have A-U flying high again soon.
Illinois, already facing foward with this Aprils promotion of Mike Poeta to the Fightin’ Illini Head Coach slot, added 140 D1 wins, 3 National titles, and 4 AA honors to its staff. They all come wrapped up in the long, lean cradle & MMA machine known as Ed Ruth. Ruth steps back full time to his arena of greatest excellence and everybody in Champaign-Urbana is doing a happy dance. And keeping their heads the HELL away from their knees.(4)
SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON
Bellarmine filled one of their 3 coaching slots, naming former Army Associate Head Coach Ned Shuck to the Knights top spot. Shuck promptly filled the airwaves with not one but two long form interviews on the Pro sites Intermat and FloWrestling. Still uncertain, who will fill the assistant coaches slots and wether the Knights will make the trip to Chattanooga for the Scuffle.
A belated “Happy Birthday” to 5th year Davidson Head Coach Andy Lausier, who kicked yet another chronological milestone to the curb this past July 7th. Along with again making the calendar wonder why it even bothers Lausier (along with assistants “Smooth” Joey Dance and “Jerzey” Chad Walsh) have a full destruction(5) of Wildcats to work with. For, like, the first time ever, like.(6) 29 Wildcats are all in a row and set for the 21-22 season. Davidson’s the first SoCon crew to make this coming years roster official, kudos to them. 11 freshmen and 8 sophomores make for a youth heavy roster but there’s a dozen years of starting experience amongst the Wildcats upperclassmen. Anchoring the action will be star lightweight Kyle Gorant and Mitchell Trigg at 285. One of many high notes for the ‘Cats last season was their earning the most Conference wins in school history. Davidsons return to the Southern Scuffle in 2020 ended a decades absence. With last years event wiped out by the Pandemic there’s a definite need for a Wildcats sighting in Chattanooga.
Its multiple A’s for effort in Boone as App State placed 22 wrestlers on the SoCon honor roll, JUST edging out Campbell with 18. An earlier version of this article had these numbers reversed. Mia apologia, por favor!
See you sometime soon!
(1) To enjoy this magnificent mishmosh of mat mayhem, follow the Fargo notes/podcasts of Jason Bryant, @Mat Talk Online. You will also be highly entertained by Intermats multi-person squad featuring Earl Smith and Cody Goodwin. And HOPE mightily for another series of roundtable podcasts with those three plus the slick, sarcastic siren of American Womens Freestyle wrestling AND smacktalk, Julia “B*tch, PLEASE” Salata.
(2) There’s a huge number of good things about this school and its Coach. One of his pro sports fan choices, maybe not so much.
(3) Clarke gets a double SHOUT OUT in this column. He made this columns All Overlooked and Underrated team last season, and he hails from one of the Scribes 3 home states, sunny FL.
(4) Not that what you do matters much. If Ed wants you in a cradle, he’ll PUT you in a cradle.
(5) A Destruction is the name for a group of feral or “wild” cats. Close enough.
(6) Apologies, the wifes Love Island addiction is like, everywhere. NOT like.