Based upon its staggering 50% success rate in predicting the USAs Mens and Womens Freestyle World Wrestling teams, if this column played professional baseball for a living it would be earning 75 million dollars a year. Sadly, this is not the case. There is simply no sugarcoating the extremely poor job the Scribe performed in predicting who was going to represent the Red, White and Blue at the World Championships in Oslo this October. Let’s clean up the mess and move forward, shall we?
•53KG Predicted: Emily Shilson
•Winner: Amy Fearnside
•55KG Predicted: Jacarra Winchester
•Winner: Sgt. Jenna Burkert
•59KG Predicted: Maya Nelson
•62KG Predicted: Kayla Miracle
•65KG Predicted: Forrest Molinari
•72KG Predicted: Kennedy Blades
•Winner: Kylie Welker
Read this column strictly for enjoyment, NOT for financial gain. Lesson learned. Concerning the results, recency bias raised its ugly head with the 53KG pick, as World Cadet & Junior Champion Shilson was decked in the quarter-finals by eventual Silver Medalist, #1 seed Ronna Heaton.(1) Shilson came in on a 22-0, two time NCWWC(2) winning streak. She’s been winning everything in sight the past two years. The 20 year old is an American superstar already, just not a senior level number one yet. Up next for Shilson, the U23 World Championships this November in Belgrade, Serbia. The champion, Amy Fearnside, earned the Gold from all the way back at the Seven seed spot. Fearnsides been kicking USA opponents to the curb since 2014. She’s a two time World Team member, a four time WCWA(2) All American, and is one of seven Titan Mercury Wrestling Club members going to Oslo for the World Championships. That’s a big chunk of team sponsorship, folks, just an amazing show of support by the West Coast based group advancing the sport since 2012. The 55KG best two of three finals showdown between column pick, 53KG Olympian Jacarra Winchester and 57KG Olympic Trials finalist Jenna Burkert was decided in the last minute….of ALL three matches! YO. Sergeant Burkert came up oh-so-short in an EPIC 3 match set with two time Olympian, Gold Medalist, Helen Maroulis, for the 57KG spot for Tokyo. This time around Burkert [@theJokerJB] did the damn thing and the heat she will be bringing to Oslo is a whole ‘nother kind of Global Warming threat. The last mistake in this columns WFS prognostications came at 72KG. World Cadet and Junior Champ Kennedy Blades had a scary “things that go bump on the mat” moment, apparently sustaining a concussion in one of her two matches versus fellow uber-talent Kylie Welker. Saying “apparently” because that, while double sourced, is unverified. What is verified(1) is that there WAS an injury. Both Welker and Blades came into this World Team competition after finishing second at the Olympic Trials as 17 year olds. That’s not a YO, thats a YOWZA YOWZA YOWZA. Also a Yowza, that Blades went back out to compete in the second match where she fell by fall. Your Honor, the Scribe pleads recency bias again, referencing Blades 16-6 victory over Welker at this years Olympics Last Chance Qualifier. No, Your Honor, we are NOT mocking….yes, your Honor. We withdraw our objection. Wish her Coach(es) had withdrawn Kennedy. We shall see how that plays out long term.
•61KG Predicted: Nick Suriano
•Winner: Daton Fix
•65KG Predicted: Yianni Diakomihalis
•70KG Predicted: Alec Pantaleo
•Winner: James Green
•79KG Predicted: Jordan Burroughs
•92KG Predicted: J’Den Cox
•125KG Predicted: Mason Parris
•Winner: Nick Gwaizdowski
Suriano went out in the quarters with a 3-0 loss to eventual Silver medalist Nathan Thomasello. Then after a backside win Nick stepped away from the third place chase for the last spot on the team, citing injury. As of this being written Suriano’s next move, college, freestyle, both, or fighting, is not yet public knowledge. Fix is a threat to medal at either of the two lightest international weight classes, and his presence at 61KG along with Olympic 57KG Bronze medalist Thomas Gilman gives America a SOLID 1-2 start. At 70KG is where you should have noticed betting on these picks was a potential problem. The Scribe went with former Michigan three time All American Pantaleo over two time World medalist, four time Nebraska All American James Green. Who, as numerous professional writer/broadcaster/paper cut lemon juice pourers gleefully noted these past few days, has represented the US at this weight since Obama’s last term. Green’s presence is glaringly predictable. He will be within striking distance of, or standing on, any podium that’s put up at any tournament he’s healthy and competing at. His capabilities were NOT missed here, just misplaced. Snuck THAT one in on you. The final Freestyle flub was the selection of Michigan 2019 Junior World Champ, two time AA, NCAA finalist Mason Parris over two time World medalist, four time (now five) World team member Nick Gwaizdowski. [@NGWIZZZ] The four time NCAA All American, three time finalist and two time champ has been doing unheard of and unpleasant things to opponents since his high school days. Witness a senior year New York State High School title where he went 50-0, with 43 pins and seven “HELL no, Coach, I’m not going out there and you can’t make me” forfeits. College excellence followed and then a looong stint as the USAs top FS Hvwt. until this year. While Minnesota’s sr. to be Gable Steveson is the defending NCAA, US Sr. Freestyle AND Olympic champ, Gwizz is our big man in Oslo. That, courtesy of Steveson turning down the spot and Nicks two straight finals wins over Parris, a Michigan senior who’ll have an extra college year past this season if he wants it.
MENS GRECO ROMAN
Only one of our four Olympic Greco Roman competitors will be on the World Team. 97KG G’Angelo Hancock will be in Oslo, but 60KG Sgt. Ildar Hafizov and 67KG Spc. Alejandro Sancho were bumped off in the Trials Finals. 87KG Staff Sgt. John Stefanowicz was out as the All Marine Team he repped was summarily disbanded after the Olympics. Notably, three Greco Roman World Team members will be starring for college teams this NCAA season. 67KG Peyton Omania will again wear the Green and White of Michigan State. 130KG Cohlton Schultz is aiming for his second All American campaign in two tries for Arizona State. Finally, 82KG Ben Provisor, a decade plus veteran of the senior Greco Roman scene and two time Olympian, will be a 31 year old freshman at Grand View University. Vast improvements have marked our Mens and Womens Freestyle teams over the last decade. Incremental needs to be the acceptable bar for American Greco Roman advancement for now. Earning wins in more than one weight class and perhaps multiple wins in one or two would be a big step up from what went down in Tokyo in August.
ALL OVERLOOKED AND UNDERRATED TEAM, 184 LBS: DEANDRE NASSAR, CLEVELAND STATE
Sometimes you get lucky. The digging done for this seasons team preview of the Vikings unearthed a small but telling number of points indicating a big, big season for the redshirt sophomore from Bluffton, Ohio. First, his ability to generate and balance success in academics and athletics. Nassars one of two Cleveland State NWCA Scholar All Americans with a 3.65 GPA in Criminal Justice and back to back appearances on the Deans List. On the mat he’s seen success straight out of high school in a D1 meat grinder of a weight class. He has a top flight teammate perched at the next wt class up in 197lb Ben Smith to roll around with. Nassar also has a big, big conference target to aim at in uber-tough Northern Illinois All American Brit Wilson, himself a former member of the A.O.&U. team some years back. NOTHING a man like young Mr. Nasser probably likes more than a challenge, or two, or three. One more favorable factor in a fine finish for DeAndre this year: his ability to handle major weight changes. In winning more than 40 matches each of his last three hs campaigns he earned two state medals and an undefeated senior season while working around a 20 pound weight differential. He’s dedicated, smart, strong (355lb bench, 555lb squat in high school) and he’s already had his own “Deandre Nassar Day”, March 9th, as proclaimed by the Mayor and good citizens of Bluffton. You just might see that pushed forward about 10 days this NCAA season.
SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON
Long past due for a Southern Scuffle update, and the hits just keep a’comin, folks. In addition to the original early commits add the Big Red of Cornell and the JackRabbits of South Dakota State. You will want to break in the New Year in the Scenic City.
Single source information has long time Drexel Assistant Coach Zach Sheaffer landing a position with Presbyterian. Sheaffer spent 10 seasons with the Dragons program and is a great late hire for Blue Hose Director of Wrestling Mark Cody.
See you sometime soon!
(1) The USA Wrestling podcast “Weighing in with David Mirikitani”, Episode 212, noted injuries to Blades in a semi final win and to 92KG Mens FS finalist Kollin Moore, also in the semis. David went 5/6 on his Mens FS picks and also gently and PROPERLY reminded the audience that Womens 53KG finalist Ronna Heaton may also choose to be known as Ronna Heaton Gross. As in the wife of USA FS star, three time All American, NCAA Champ and hugely fortunate husband Seth Gross.
(2) The NCWWC, National Collegiate Womens Wrestling Championships, and the WCWA, Womens Collegiate Wrestling Association, both ran events and tournaments for womens wrestling. The sports explosive growth after years of producing Olympic level athletes in near obscurity has led to an ever evolving turf war stretching across divisions, formats, and championships. The incredible unifying success of all four of our international Womens Teams, Cadet, Juniors, U23s, and Seniors (Olympics) could NOT have come at a better time.