SEASON 5,COLUMN 10: BIG BOYZ BREAK-DOWN; VIKINGS PLAN A MAC SACK; HE DIDNT START THE FIRE, HES STOKING IT; SCHE-DULES, STAFF, AND GENERAL STUFF; & SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON

The schedules, rosters, and coaching changes are dropping around the country like fluid levels in front of a 2 hour weigh-in. This time we’ll visit two blueblood programs poised for noise, a team just a few years removed from resurrection making progress in and out of conference, and hand out the latest Deep South scrappin’ stuff.

ARIZONA STATES A CASE FOR GREAT

The simple and best example for the team from Tempes prominent place in wrestling occured three plus decades ago. Collegiate wrestlings been contested for nearly 100 years and exactly ONE school outside the traditional epicenters of the sport has hoisted the team title. The year was 1988, the coach was Bobby Douglas, and you simply can’t overstate the importance of the run the Sun Devils made to the National Championship that year. All the sweeter: Head Coach Douglas is a 2X American Olympic hero, the team he forged in Tempe Arizona with a combination of brilliance and brutality had three starters from their own state, and when the dust settled the Sun Devils had exactly as many individual titlists as your author has degrees from Princeton(1). They won as a team and without a key teammate, injured just before the Tournament. The current team in Tempe is coming off a Top Four finish at last years Nationals. 8th year Head Coach Zeke Jones has been slowly, steadily building a National competitor at the school he competed at as part of that 1988 title-winning squad. A Pan American and World Gold Medalist with a 1992 Barcelona Olympic Silver medal on his resume Jones also once earned the Worlds Most Technical wrestler award. Jones original plans for a Top 4, 2020 NCAA team finish were derailed by Covid-19 and the permanent suspension of 2X National Champ Zahid Valencia. That came to mean exactly nada as Jones and the Devils just bumped the expectation and the collective effort forward a year, doing the team medal winning thing in 2021. Theres 40 rostered wrestlers this season with 6 set as Grad students or Seniors. The highlight-laden half dozen inludes senior Marlee Smith, whos been rostered for several years. Not an anomaly but a harbinger Smith has quietly pursued her sport and her education as a Division 1 athlete smoothly and with little fanfare. With the huzzahs coming from the USA Womens medal blitz in Tokyo the quiet buzz around Smith may yet rachet up a few decibels. Keep your eyes also on the Valencias, senior Anthony and freshman Cael, chronologically brothers two and three from the transcendent West Coast wrestling family. Especially be aware of All American and defending PAC-12 champ Anthony, who because of the Covid granted extra season will attempt to become the 1st FIVE-time champ in Conference history. 197lb Kordell Norfleet is looking for a fourth conference crown and may be the most overlooked and underappreciated guy in his weight class nationwide. Did NOT say Underrated. Don’t get it twisted. 125lb Brandon Courtney and 133lb Michael (mik-KALE, please, thank you) Mcgee will both attempt to move higher up the All American ladder after finishing 2nd and 6th respectively last season. The splash and dash in the 5 man junior class definitely comes from All American 157lb Jacori Teemer. Teemer totaled foes both great and small on his way to a 4th place National finish in a brutal weight class. A sophomore star: yet another Sun Devil All American. 285lb Cohlton Schultz is perhaps Americas best hvwt. Greco Roman wrestler at ANY age group. Last year he finished 4th at NCAAs and in a class loaded with returning All American upper classmen will have his hands full. So will anybody going up against him. Theres 16 other sophomores, including star to be 174lb Trey Munoz,* and 12 freshmen. Sun Devil SHOUTOUTS going out to homestate home boys: sophomore 157lb Hunter Balk, Weatherford, TX, who matriculated from Trinity Christian Academy. Sophomore 157lb Ethan Pickren, Panama City Beach, FL, South Walton HS. Freshman John Powell, Argyle, TX, Liberty Christian HS. Freshman Alexzander Owens, Palm Bay, FL, Palm Bay Magnet School. To keep this crew on track for a title run Jones and crew hammered together a spicy 2021-2022 schedule. After their Maroon and Gold team match November 5th, Big 12 Co-Champ Oklahoma comes to Tempe on the 19th. Currently the Devils schedule looks open in December, though they’ve often showed up and showed out at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Tournament that month. January 7th Top Ten Iowa State visits and the 28th its Oregon State. The Beavers, recently featured in this authors Season 5, Column 8, were hard on the Devils heels at last years PAC 12 Championships, finishing 2nd behind ASU. Come February the whole darn US of A comes to AZ as PAC 12 foe Stanford stops by on the 4th. Brian Smiths mighty Missouri Tigers are next, repping the Midwest on the 11th. Finally, East Coast power and 4X defending EIWA Conference champs the Lehigh Mountain Hawks land in Tempe on the 18th. Last year the Sun Devils set the wrestling world on fire when they broke Penn State’s 60 match win streak. Look for sparks (and Sparky, their funky pitchfork armed mascot) whenever the Sun Devils hit the mats.

WHATS NEW ISN’T, EXCEPT WHEN IT IS

at Cornell, where things had been status quo “ain’t broke, don’t fix” for decades till this past Spring. Then, in surprisingly short order 28 year Head Coach Rob Koll turned his face towards Palo Alto, California and left Ithaca for the top spot at the newly resurrected Stanford program. A same season departure of uber talented assistant coach Gabe Dean and the exit of Gabes 2X AA brother Max from the Cornell roster further shook the roots in Ithaca. Max will apparently suit up this season as a Penn State Nittany Lion. Gabes gone back to Michigan to run a storage shed company (2). Oh, and that Volunteer Assistant Coach guy? That one with the 4 NCAA Championships, 2 World Titles, and a 2021 Olympic Bronze Medal? Dakes his name, right? Kyle Dake. Yeah. Well, he’s staying….until the World Championships in October. Thats what HE said. After that? That’s what he DIDN’T say. Cornell, to their great credit, moved VERY swiftly to promote Assistant Head Coach Mike Grey to the top spot. Grey certainly didn’t waste time either snagging the uber-talented duo of Donnie Vinson and Kellen Russell to flesh out his coaching crew. Vinson comes up and off of Pat Popolizios NC State staff while Russell comes over from Sean Bormets crew at Michigan. Won’t bore you with a stupid-long list of their accolades. They’re both really, REALLY good at coachin n wrestlin n recruitin n stuff, though. Then Cornell took about a 6′ 250 plus pound further step in the right direction and double dipped on NC State, snagging Wolfpack RTC star Nick Gwiazdowski. Gwiazdowskis cred? Lots. Like 4X AA, mutiple NCAA titles and World medals cred. The staff is set and there’s a ton of talent ready to get after it big time since the Ivy League kiboshed the whole 2020-2021 season. Soon enough we will have the list of first year Cornell stars. Frankly, though, even if all of them decided to take the grayshirt route, sit out the year, or give up wrestling completely, Cornell would still challenge for a Top spot this year. They are just that good.

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO BOARD THOSE LONGBOATS

Not so fast, Mid American Conference, not so fast. Cleveland State has been toiling mightily since saving the program less than a decade back. Head Coach Josh Moore, promoted from Assistant four seasons ago, got past a Covid-19 second year NCAA Championships cancellation with a much better than the record reflected 2021 campaign. Look past last years 1 win team result and check the Vikings post season panache. Cleveland State had eight out of their ten men earn wins at the always tough MAC Tournament. 4 Vikings fought through to the semi finals. Buffalo transfer 149lb Marcus Robinson, 165lb Riley Smucker, 184lb Deandre Nasser, and 197lb Ben Smith snagged 8 wins between them in the first two rounds. Then Robinson and Smith took it one step further, upsetting the #2 and #1 seeds respectively to make the MAC Tournament finals. Cleveland State grabbed four more w’s on day two with the highlight being Nassers 2nd win in two days over Clarions (last weeks Column 9 featured team) talented Max Wohlabaugh. Nassers 3rd place victory sent him, along with Conference finalists Robinson and Smith, to the NCAAs. About the NCAAs: somehow, someway, SO many times guys on a heater, but with little or no national “respect”, get 1st round matchups with regular season conference foes. People who have already beaten them if not repeatedly, then soundly. Its the WC Fields effect: “Go away, Kid, you bother me.” CAN’T take the chance on a “smaller” conference star upsetting a big name, can we? Bad for business, wouldn’t be prudent. Both Robinson and Nasser faced Top ranked MAC foes in their First round matches with the expected results. Smith, though also losing his first match, fought through two days and three brutal rounds before bowing out. Those efforts, the return of all but two Vikings post season point earners, a solid recruiting class, and the coaching continuity lend a LOT of enthusiasm here to Cleveland States 2021-2022 chances. About this team, and that roster; 33 strong, ALL with at least two years left repping that glowering logo and bad-@ss horned helmet. Four juniors, seven sophomores, and 22, count ’em, 22 freshman. BIGGEST part of that stat by far: an even dozen frosh are coming off a redshirt first year campaign for Cleveland State. That, folks, is how you build quality depth, and what Viking doesn’t dig quality depth? Gotta keep those boats safe. Got places to go, people to beat, and podiums to place at. The Fab Four already mentioned WILL be on somebodys National radar this year. You should also look out for these Vikings. Coming soon to a pillaging near you, bookends 285lb Josh Kelbly and 125lb Logan Heil. Heil, of the famed Heil wrestling family (3), was 24-12 his freshman season before redshirting last year. Kelbly was a double digit match winner competing at 197 in his first season, then at 285 hit 15 wins in his 2020 redshirt sophomore campaign despite being injured half the year. He’s healthy now, full-sized, and hungry. YOU want to face a Viking like that? Go ahead, we’ll wait. All season long, thank you. You’ll probably get the Vikings schedule on Twitter same time this site does. It will be republished here. Hopefully it includes a stop in Chattanooga in January.

THE FIRE INSIDE TRAVIS PATRICK, PT. 2

Theres a Sunshine State success story being written by Lakeland (FL) Southeastern Universities Wrestling Team. An up and coming coach named Travis Patrick pulled a BIG trigger this Spring, making the 4th (or 5th, depends on your math) move of a young career to assume the top spot at Florida’s burgeoning N.A.I.A. power. Last week we gave you the where, what and the how of the early Coach Patrick, this time around its the why and the now.

After wrapping up his personal mat time Patrick wasted no time and headed to Menlo College. In 3 seasons with the Oaks Patrick rose to Associate Head Coach and helped his athletes achieve 10 All American honors, academic, athletic, or both. He helped develop Menlos first National champ in nearly a decade and became a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Advisor. He secured a Masters online in Applied Exercise Science and helped keep a long distance relationship alive, but otherwise struggled to accomplish much. Thats a joke, son, thats a joke.(4) Patrick was effusive in his praise for how the professional and personal aspects of his life blended so well and so swiftly. “I am incredibly grateful for my time at Menlo. I learned a lot about coaching both from the wrestling and the Sports Performance perspective. I was in an 18 month Masters program when I arrived at Menlo in 2015. My classes were online which enabled me to work full time during the day and work on my classes at lunch and in the evening. Tyler (she said yes) was still attending Southern Oregon. Balancing the long distance relationship, Masters program, sports performance and wrestling schedule was stressful at times but forced me to grow in a lot of ways that help me in my coaching career today.” Despite all that, it was no small bet when Arizona Christian tabbed Patrick to start their program as a first time Head Coach. “I knew early on in my coaching career that I wanted to become a Head College Coach,” Patrick asserted. “Going into my fourth year at Menlo I started talking to (Coach) Joey Martinez and the Athletic Director Keith Spataro about the possibility and pursued a few openings for interview experience if nothing else. The mentorship from Joey and Keith is what really gave me the confidence to take on the task of starting the ACU program so early in my coaching career. Joey trusted me as a young assistant and allowed me to gain experience on the administrative side of the job. (It) helped me understand the why behind a lot of what we did rather than have me just run practices and recruit. That helped me a great deal when I started at ACU.” But, in yet another one of those life altering moments, Patrick and his new bride heard a new call from the most trusted of sources. One that would take them across the country into a region, a state, and a lifestyle new to both. “Arizona Christian was great to me and my Wife (capitals his) so it was not an easy decision to leave. We enjoyed the process of building the program and were blessed to have the first All American in just its 2nd year. I believe God opened the door for us to make the move to Southeastern and He made it clear during the process that (Southeastern) was where he wanted us to be. The past Southeastern coaches, Brandon Jorge and Javier Maldonado, were both great resources during the process and had nothing but good things to say about the University and the administration”.(5) There’s a lot that followed reflecting the enthusiasm and joy of the interview subject, but one thing Patrick especially stressed. “The deeper my Wife and I went into the interview process the more we felt God pulling us to Lakeland.” Despite his Sunshine State Newbie status it was Patrick who corrected the author, a former 30 year resident, on some important Florida wrestling points. “With three N.A.I.A. programs in the state (SEU, St. Thomas and Keiser) there is increasing opportunity for talented HS wrestlers to compete at the next level and stay in state. Right now N.A.I.A. wrestling is growing faster than any other division and the level of competition within the N.A.I.A. continues to rise each year. Both of our (SEU) National Champions this past season were homegrown Florida wrestlers. I hope to continue that tradition and have SEU help grow Florida wrestling in the process.” And about that team Patrick, Assistant Coaches Koby Reyes and Aris Knight (with help from GA Olsen Delisca) are leading this season? “We have four returning All Americans and numerous others capable of qualifying and getting on the podium. We have a signing class of 18. This group is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season.” Indeed they are. Oh, there was one more thing. When queried about whats pleased Patricks palate the most since the young and talented Coach landed in Lakeland, he mentioned a stellar Farmers Market and Mojo Federal for BBQ and burgers. Whew. until those two nuggets dropped, the Scribe was feeling mighty humble.(6) See your Farmers Market and Mojo Federal and raise you the Pearl, Blanco BBQ and the Longhorn Cafe. All in small bills, Coach, all in small bills.

ARMY GETS 2021-2022 ASSIGNMENTS

Army West Points less than expected 2021 season included their 1st Star Match loss to Navy in 5 years and ended with a lackluster NCAA tournament performance. Knowing that and seeing this years brutal schedule one might think Coach Kevin Ward has adopted the Attila the Hun rule: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Not sure about that but be sure of this: Army will have an Army quality season. They will step up to every challenge and will again step forward towards the Top 20 spotlight. And boy, will they have earned every single accolade they gather in. In November alone the Black Knights will stand across the mat from a “Cat-5” level Iowa State team, and then stick around after the dual meet storm in Ames, Iowa for the Cyclone Open two days later on the 28th. For Army that might be the easier part of November. Their season kicks off the 14th at the always challenging Journeymen Duals while on the 18th its an away date with Penn State. December sees just two scheduled events, but with Rutgers on the 10th and the prestigious and potent Midlands Tournament the 29th and 30th, who needs more? One more tournament, The David H. Lehman Franklin & Marshall Open, is a one day toughie as Januarys schedule begins on the 7th. A team previewed elsewhere in this column, perennial Top 10 power Cornell, is up on the 15th. January 29th its Bucknell, whose new coach is properly noted also elsewhere in this column.(7) Army competes in the EIWA, and 4X conference champ Lehigh squares off with the Knights February 4th. Then its 15 days until the ultimate rivalry in college athletics: Army-Navy, the STAR Match. February 19th. If you think their football game is a deal, and it SO is, the intensity of their wrestling match can go off the scale. Navy traditionally dominated for decades. Then, Kevin Ward took over at West Point and flipped the script. The Black Knights ran off four straight wins including a down to the last possible deciding point: a tied match settled by criteria in Armys favor. Navy bid goodbye to long time Coach Joel Sharratt shortly thereafter, went headhunting, and brought in American wrestling legend Cary Kolat to set things aright. Last year, first year of the Ward-Kolat wars? 20-13, Navy. YO. Then, at the EIWA Conference Tournament, Army picked up its 2nd straight 3rd place finish, behind champion Lehigh and 2nd place…Navy. DOUBLE YO. Your move, Army. Answered in no small part by the renewed juice in scheduling, uber developer Coach Scott Green coming on board, and, no doubt, another big time recruiting class. When that news drops this site will do a deep dive on the full roster and what to expect. Can tell you one thing in advance, it WILL be….ARMY STRONG.

BUCKNELL GETS A BOOST

Tyler Smith, come on down! The 2018 Bison grad who finished with 107 wins, 4 NCAA qualifying seasons, and a successful post-grad coaching stint at VMI for column fav Jim Gibson, is back home in Lewisburg. Good move all around as Bucknell Coach Dan Wirmsberger gets perhaps his best living breathing example of Bison excellence back in the room to help tune up the troops.

NAVY HOLDS COURT…AT 30,000 FT?

Really now, tell me you can’t see the Midshipmens Head Coach Cary Kolat sliding into Samuel L. Jacksons seat on that Heli-Carrier. ‘Relax, Nick. I got this.’ For real, though, Kolat hosted a several hours long informal Q & A on a recent flight to Siesta Key, FL. Nuggets dropped included Kolats crews tournament plans: “Midlands this year”; his take on the All Academy Championships: “has to make sense with the timing and RPI”; and topics ranging from quantity of training time, who gets asked to be a Middy, and why they say yes. More Navy details? Follow @chenry_creative, Social Media Director, USNA. Or check with @wrestlinggoats. BTW, they’re climbing rankings, not trees.

SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON

Set Friday October 29th and $100 aside and make tracks to Chattanooga for the UTC 2021 Athletics Hall of Fame banquet.You and your date can celebrate 5 new inductees, one of whom is former Moc mat superstar and 9 year (2010-2018) UTC Head Wrestling Coach Heath Eslinger. This column, your author and a modest level of your reading enjoyment owes a bit of gratitude to Eslinger, whos coaching skills as well as tournament and city cheering talent wowed the Scribe and bride at the 2015 Southern Scuffle. Plus, theres good museums, better food and TOP flight coffee shops everywhere.

Gardner-Webb welcomed the newbies this week both on scholarship and in the athletic staff. Freshman Move Day brought the new Bulldogs onto campus for the first full influx of students since Covid. Coach Daniel Elliott noted the significance of the event and tweeted out his welcome. G-W also welcomed in Hattiesburg, Mississippi’s Mike Smith as the new Director of the Bulldog club. As of August 11th implementing and managing short and long range fundraising strategies and goals is job one for Smith.

Louisville, Kentucky, is seeing Knights these days as Bellarmine students hit campus the 19th. Year two of the transition to Division 1 wrestling sees new Head Coach Ned Shuck still scouring the countryside for an assistant. Tell you what, Louisville (LOO-vihl if you want to score some early points) has it all: Top 30 city style without the snark, a nice South/Midwest vibe, good people and very good food, multiple Fortune 500 companies, and pretty much whatever you’d want from the outdoors either there or close by.

The Southern Scuffle has added another top flight team. Cal-St. Bakersfield heads to Chattanooga for the big show January 1st and 2nd. Coach Luke “Lightning” Smith brings his second set of Roadrunners to the Scenic City and they’ll bring Cali high-quality and quantity along with classic Midwest grit. It will be the Roadrunners 4th visit in 5 years and they’ll be looking for their 3rd Top 10 finish. As usual, CSU-B schedules hard; in addition to the Scuffle they’ll meet the field at the CKLV in early December.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

*Munoz is the son of former NCAA Champ Mark Munoz, NOT NFL Star Anthony Munoz. Additionally, late information has him entering the Transfer Portal.

(1) Princeton was the Scribes dream school from the heady days of early academic success to the day that final, fateful “Dearest Theodore” letter arrived. Think thats what it says. Its…a little..hard to…hard to…SIGH. The Scribe is STILL down with that wheelbarrow loading up Tigers fans on the way to the Championships, though. #GetIn

(2) Gabes company, @mystorageGL, mystoragegreatlakes@gmail.com, will build to suit and won’t stop till you’re more than satisfied. Not paid to say that. Know enough about Gabe to believe that.

(3) Dean Heil won 2 NCAA titles at OK St and was so good that the rules committee wrote up a way to help stop him. Sadly, it worked. Brother Josh is a super senior this season at Campbell who was f’ed over so badly at NCAAs last year the Rules Committee wrote up a way to stop what happened to him from ever happening again. TRUE. Hey Rules Committee, leave this brother alone, will you please?

(4) Foghorn Leghorn, the cartoon rooster and avatar of things DEEPSouth, will set you straight EVERY time, son. Knowledge bombs that’ll sink you like a STONE.

(5) Major props also need to go out to Athletic Director Drew Watson, who handled a fans bloq inquries as if a National News network had promised an hour long feature documentary. Sherlock Holmes WISHES his guy was this good.

(6) Never lasts. Ask the Bride. Actually, don’t.

(7) Hmm, multiple column news subjects, nicely interwoven. WOULD say it was cleverly planned, if it had been.