SEASON 5 COLUMN 6: HIGHLY BIASED OLYMPIC PICKS; PEOPLE, PLACES & ROSTER THINGS; & SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON

15 Gold Medals! Every match won by Fall!! Each athlete standing, smiling, and singing along with the Star Spangled Banner!!! Its an Everly Brothers song come to life!!!!(1) Croon all you want, die hard USA Wrestling fans, but you just might have to suffer an expectation adjustment here. The beautiful, hard, terrible truths of wrestling at the Olympics are many. Here are some of the most vexing…

  1. The I.O.C. eliminates 40 percent of weight classes the entire WORLD competes at EVERY year thats NOT an Olympic year. Theres usually 10 different wt. classes being contested. For the Olympics the World is squeezed into a size 6. You feel that?
  2. Cheating teams continue to cheat. They are STILL allowed to compete. EVEN in cases where the cheating has been PROVEN to be Nationwide, sponsored and approved by the cheating countries.
  3. The “Random” draw for the assignment of matches can easily, and more often than statistics might indicate, somehow seem to arrange for favorites to meet in the 2nd or even 1st rounds.
  4. Repechage. Its a Monty Pythonesque French Knights word meaning if you lose, you scr@@wzd. Drop a match anywhere before the semis and IF the guy/gal who beats you doesn’t make the Finals, BUH-BYE.

So why compete at all? Why put up with this stuff? Because, as someone named Dan Gable(2) once said: “Yeah, its hard. Its Wrestling. It never occured to me that it wasnt supposed to be hard.” With that said, these HIGHLY biased, fervently hoped for, quite possibly inaccurate but nonetheless committed to paper predictions…..

GRECO ROMAN 60KG- SGT. ILDAR HAFIZOV ARMY

Most Likely 1-2 DNP

If he faces one of the Top 4 1st round, AND his victor makes the Finals, Hafizov wins once in Repechage. If he gets a 1st round win, he will fall in the quarter finals.

GRECO ROMAN 67KG SPC. ALEJANDRO SANCHO ARMY

Most likely 0-2 DNP

Will probably face a Top 4 opponent, 1st round. Will either not be drawn into Repechage or will drop 1st match there.

GRECO ROMAN 87KG STAFF SGT. JOHN STEFANOWICZ MARINES

Most likely 1-2 DNP

Can win 1st round if not facing a Top 4 foe. If defeated 1st round and pulled into Repechage, 1-1 there.

GRECO ROMAN 97KG G’ANGELO HANCOCK

MOST LIKELY 2-2 (T), 5th

Has a win over Olympic #2 seed and can win 1st round match vs. almost anyone. If 1st round win, then likely into semis, then 0-2. If 1st round loss, then pulled into Repechage, makes Bronze Medal match, finishes T-5th.

The U.S. only qualified 4 wt. classes out of 6 in Greco Roman for these Olympics. To be fair neither our 77KG nor our 130KG #1 guys, Jesse Porter or Adam Coon, would have been expected to have a winning record in Tokyo. Coon is currently trying to make the Tennessee Titans roster and Porters coming off a training camp injury, Post-Qualifier tournament.

MENS FS 57KG THOMAS GILMAN

Most likely 3-1 BRONZE MEDALIST

Gilman can beat anyone of the Top 4 and can be beaten by any but the last 4. A Non Top 4 opponent, 1st matchup, would be best. Win that, another win, a semis loss, then a Repechage victory for Bronze. IF he is FULLY healthy. There’s a floating question about a foot injury. Very few people know for sure, and they’re not talking.

MENS FS 74KG KYLE DAKE

Most likely 4-0 GOLD MEDALIST

2x Defending World Champ at 79KG, Dakes down a wt. class and dirtier than ever. AMAZING talent in this class, including current 2x 74KG World Champ Zaurbek Sidakov of Russia, 2x World Champ and Olympic medalist Frank Chamizo of Italy and World Medalist, 2x current Asian champion Daniyar Kaisanov of Khazakhstan. Dake, unseeded,(3) could very well end up facing all 3 back to back to back. Won’t matter. BOMBS AWAY, Kyle, BOMBS AWAY!

MENS FS 86KG DAVID TAYLOR

Most likely 4-0 GOLD MEDALIST

Taylor, the 2018 World Champ, has won Gold in his last 5 international tournaments after missing the 2019 Worlds due to an exhibition match injury default. Hes undefeated in Freestyle since the 2017 season. He has a 2-0 record against 2x World and defending Olympic Champ Hassan Yazdanicharati of Iran. Yazdanicharati is so good he has twice as many international wrestling medals as he has syllables. Theres also World Medalist Deepak Punia of India and World Medalist, 2x Russian, THREE TIME European(4) Champ Artur Naifonov in the mix. Those three are seeded 1, 2, and 4 respectively. Also very tough, the Olympic Opening Ceremonies flag bearer for San Marino (by way of the University of Michigan), #3 seed Myles Amine. In point of fact the top 6 finishers from the 2019 Worlds are all present and accounted for. For Taylor, the path could be similar to Dakes. As an unseeded competitor, he could face some combination of 3 of the Top 4 all in a row.

MENS FS 97KG KYLE SNYDER

Most likely 3-1 SILVER MEDALIST

The ONLY American Mens Freestyle wrestler seeded at these Olympics, Snyder, (AKA Captain America) comes in at the number 2 spot. That will be of little benefit as, (and you can mark it down here and now) somehow, SOMEWAY, with that AMAZING random draw magic, Kyle will face either Azerbaijans Sharif Sharifov or Irans Mohammad Mohammadian in the first round. Possibly even back to back. Why? Because 10x World and Olympic medalist Sharifov upset Kyle in the semis of the 2019 Worlds and Mohammadian pinned Kyle when last they wrestled. AND they are both unseeded, which is highly defensible and HIGHLY convenient. For SOME folks. Just sayin. After a multi year run of NCAA, World, and Olympic championships from 2015-2017, Snyders had Silver, Bronze, and DNP (did not place) results. Along with some Championships, mind you, but still. These Olympics will be heavily stacked against a return to form for Snyder. Still, the feeling here is he will make the finals to face his and everyones 97KG nemesis, 4x World and 2x Olympic champ Abdulrashid “The Russian Tank” Sadulaev. Sadulaev has 135 international wins and as many losses as answer options on a T/F quiz. He and Snyder are 1-1 against each other. The “Inevitable” rubber match at the 2019 Worlds went sideways when the aforementioned Sharifov(an Olympic champ himself) defeated Snyder in the semis. You KNOW what happened last year. These two Titans are now married, mid to late 20s, and 10+ years each into their grueling international careers. What happens if/when “SnyderLaev III” goes down in Tokyo? Thought here is it will, and that an easier path to the Finals will grant Sadulaev the edge.

MENS 125KG FS GABLE STEVESON

Most likely 3-1 BRONZE, W/ A BACKFLIP

The utter antithesis of the Dancing Bear heavyweight, Steveson is a King Kong sized break dancer who will break out or go broke tryin in Tokyo. No seed? NO PROBLEM. The field includes World and defending Olympic champ Taha Akgul of Turkey and 3x World Champ Gino Petriashvili of Georgia. SO? When told the odds where 1 in 6 he’d draw those guys, Steveson said the odds were backwards. THEY had a 1 in 6 chance of drawing him.YO. Way too early Muhammad Ali comparisons aside, Steveson floats, dips and flies like your average Olympic gymnast. PLUS 100+ pounds of #SmoothNasty. Like that? It’s accurate, and available at the right price. Hes lost 2 matches to 1 guy in college and beaten everybody else, with 2 yrs of college eligibility left. Here, if theres a slip up, self induced or otherwise, it’ll be the only one. And, unless ALL his N.I.L., (Name, Image, Likeness)(5) ducks are lined up in a million dollar row, say thank you and goodbye as he exits Tokyo, stage right. Right outta that backflip to stick the landing, WWE, Hollywood style.

USA WOMENS FS BREAKDOWN

There is no false attempt here at portraying any further knowledge, in depth or otherwise, of our Womens FS team, the field they face, or an accurate assessment of their chances for Tokyo success. What this site has been able to cobble together has been shared here both recently and repeatedly. Most recently, in the SEASON 5, COLUMN 2 edition of this publication, dropped on 6/28/21 and immediately available by scrolling up once you finish this piece of work. Whats about to happen here is a prediction. You probably know how its going to go, but here goes anyway.

WOMENS FS 50KG SARAH HILDEBRANDT

Most likely 2-2 (T),5th

Too tough a group for even the former World Silver Medalist (2018) to overcome. The top 6 wrestlers from 2019s World Championships are all here. Hildebrandt closes out an illustrious career with a great showing against a lousy draw in a brutal field.Then….whatever she wants.

WOMENS FS 53KG JACARRA WINCHESTER

Most likely 4-0 GOLD MEDALIST

The defending World Champ continues her wicked, wicked ways and lays waste to the field, becoming Americas 2nd Womens FS Olympic Gold Medalist AND cementing her status as Team TwitterQueen. Like Hildebrandt, Jacarra faces a group that had included 2019s Top 6. Then, 2019 champ Yong Mi Pak had her country, North Korea, pull out at the last minute. Insert political observation at your own discretion. To the talented and tough 53KG field taking aim at Americas lightweight Wildcat, this warning: “Target is angry. TARGET IS ANGRY!”

WOMENS FS 57KG HELEN MAROULIS

Most likely 3-1 BRONZE MEDALIST

Defending Olympic and 2017 World Champion Maroulis leaves it all on the mat, including her shoes, as she finishes strong. Japans only #1 seed is here, Risako Kawai. Again, EVERY medal winner and both 5th place finishers from 2019 have found their way to Tokyo. Not seeded, Helen could be gone after an opening round with the wrong draw, but if there’s anyone that deserves a blessing from the Wrestling Gods, its her. A TV career (possible) and huge amounts of sloppy kisses (definitely)(6) await.

WOMENS FS 62KG KAYLA MIRACLE

Most likely 1-2 DNP

First time, worst time is usually true even for transcendent talents like @ miraculousKC, who as the #4 seed(7) may very well find her first Olympics to be a zero-sum experience. Watch for Top seed, defending World Champ, and 8 time Asian Games medalist Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan to make noise here.The 2nd member of Japans Kawai crew, Yukako Kawai, benefits from sister Risako Kawais drop down to 57kg. Miracle will show toughness, skill, and desire, but against this field won’t get to show it much. Next year, different story.

WOMENS FS 68KG TAMYRA MENSAH-STOCK

Most likely 4-0 GOLD MEDALIST

Defending World champ. Effervescent Energizer Bunny with deep religious roots and Tasmanian Devil toughness. STRAIGHT OUTTA KATY (TX) MORTON RANCH HIGH SCHOOL, BABY! Shes one of three American wrestlers who earned seeds for Tokyo, along with Miracle and 76kg Adeline Gray. Theres tough customers here, folks, with savvy Nigerian Blessing Oborududu, 2019 European and World Medalist Anna Schell of Germany, and rising French superstar/model Koumba Larroque. ALL the winners from 2019, Fifth to 1st, present and accounted for? YUP. That includes you know who, who it says here will take the Red, White and Blue on a Happy Dance that’ll leave ’em Dancing in the streets. All Night Long.

WOMENS FS 76KG ADELINE GRAY

Most likely 4-0 GOLD MEDALIST

There are 38 Continental, World, and Olympic medals spread through the portfolios of the Top 6 finishers from 2019s Worlds who (stop the Scribe if you’ve read this before) are all in Tokyo. Adeline has 10 of those medals including 5 World Golds. Thats more than ANY American wrestler, male or female, has ever earned. She has losses to several talents in the field, including Canadas Erica Wiebe. Wiebes 4 Olympic/CommonWealth medals aren’t even included in the aformentioned total as she had an off 2019. Gray v. Wiebe is a BIG deal folks, athletically, and from a biased ‘Murican male viewpoint, socio-culturally. Border Battle. Center Right America vs. Center Left Canada. Multiple World Champ vs. Defending Olympic Champ. Colorado country beauty married to the military. Glamorous single Cover girl from a big city suburb. Brunette vs Blonde. Long hair vs short hair. Have we given you enough to work with yet, NBC? SHEESH. Seriously, look for tough bouts for Adeline all around, not just from Wiebe or host country star and 2019 World Silver Medalist Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki. The belief here is that the 76KG class remains, for 1 more brief shining moment, in the age of Adeline.

‘BOUT TIME YOU WENT BACK TO WORK

Said somebody to somewhere in TX. Way ahead of the San Antonio employment curve, 3X Nebraska AA and NRTC athlete T.J. Dudley to an Assistant position at Brown. Dudley will help tune up Head Coach Todd Beckermans upper weights as well as bolster the dual-school (Brown & Harvard) New England Regional Training Center.

Former PSU star Brady Berge has regained his health, gained a degree and landed on South Dakota State Head Coach Damion Hahns staff. The JackRabbits just inked their BHHHC(8) to a new 5 yr contract. GOOD moves both.

Legendary 4X FHSAA champ, 2x Iowa State All American, and former team USA star Earl Hall heads to Greeley, CO, and joins Troy Nickersons Bears. Northern Colorado is bursting with young lightweight and middleweight talent. They’re ALL smiling at this hire.

3X NCAA Qualifier and former MAC Champ Shakur Laney returns to his alma mater, Ohio University, bringing both recency and intensity to the Bobcats lightweight crew. The MAC might have room for movement with Missouris departure, and Laney should help provide fuel for that. BTW, the Bobcats DO boast not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 National Champs. Just sayin. Again.

As first reported by Intermat, and confirmed elsewhere, Buffalo is down an assistant. Former Central Michigan All American and 4x NCAA qualifier (once for NC State) Justin Oliver leaves the Bulls for…not sure. Hopefully to a school that will take a holiday trip to Chattanooga.

The author once foolishly pleaded with former VA Tech Head Coach Kevin Dresser to stay in Blacksburg because “Iowa State wants you, Coach D, but VA Tech needs you.” Half right and boy, it is GOOD to be wanted. While Tony Robie has more than ably kept Tech on track for consistent top tier status, Dresser said yessir to a new 5 year deal in Ames. That storm warning has become a full grown Iowa State Cyclone bearing down on both the Big 12 and the NCAA podium.

SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON

21 men and 13 women comprise the recently released Presbyterian College wrestling rosters for the upcoming season. Still seeing just the name Mark Cody as Coach, Director of Wrestling Operations, etc. Sent a resume here yet, Justin?

UTC had a Summer special as recruit Dayne Dalrymple won a Fargo Juniors Title at 132 lbs. A 2x state champ, 3x finalist for Christian Brothers HS in Memphis, TN., Dalrymple was one of 3 recruits that Mocs Head Coach Kyle Ruschell landed in last Novembers early signing period.

Recent VMI Grad and 4 year wrestler Cliff Conway is now the new Championships assistant for the Southern Conference. Maybe the Keydets can pry the tournament out of Boone after the current contract expires. SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON, Cliff. You KNOW you read it here first.

Appalachian State has been confirmed as a ready, willing, and oh-so-able participant for this upcoming seasons Southern Scuffle. The Mountaineers appearance gives the SoCon a legit 2 team shot for Top 10 finishes along with host UTC.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

USA!USA!USA!

(1) Ask Grandma if she used to Dream, Dream, Dream about Grandpa while they were dating. It’ll put a smile on her face and be good for an extra hug. And possibly cookies.

(2) Nope, not footnoting Coach Gable in this column. If you know, you know. If you don’t, you’re not reading this anyway.

(3) No seeded spot for Dake because his international triumphs are at a different weight class, 79KG.

(4) What? WHAT?? Naifonov is a 2x Russian but 3x European champ? How is that? IS RUSSIA. NO ASK.

(5) Basically, college athletes can now LEGALLY earn money while in school for these things. Steveson is a senior to be (junior if he wants, Covid year) at the University of Minnesota. Thinking the long and short term options are pointing elsewhere. Really now, would YOU go back? (9)

(6) From her friend Rebecca Ropers dog, named…Helen. For obvious reasons. PLEASE, PEOPLE!

(7) Placed a phone call. A VIP answered. Not name dropping, but THANK YOU, Mr. Gary Abbott, for confirming Kaylas seed status. Truly great people somehow find a way to make time for even regular folks.

(8) Bald Headed Hero Head Coach. Say it slowly, let it sink in. NEVER enough of these.

(9) Not even for Coach Brandon Eggums Abelskiver Pancake recipe would you do this. Wow, footnote to a footnote with a Lord of the Rings reference. Stopping now.