SEASON 5, COLUMN 17: GIANTS BOTH BEHIND & UP FRONT AT SDSU; ALL OVER-LOOKED & UNDER-RATED TEAM, 157LBS; & SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON, UTC STYLE

Part two of a sweet Dakotas double-dip, Whos zoomin who at 157, and a full check in on Chattanooga.

SDSU’s JUSTIN SELLS GREATNESS, HAHN HOPS ON FOR FIVE MORE

Let’s go back in time to move the JackRabbits story forward, shall we? In the post 2017-2018 college wrestling season the second most recent architect/power plant of SDSU grappling greatness made a logical next step in a sterling career and took a long term restore job at a BIG 10 power. Fortunately for the team, the school, the alumni and JackRabbits fans everywhere the solution to that and damn near any problem a school could have already resided in SDSUs Athletic Directors office. It’s debatable if any school has made a more positive hire in the past decade plus as when SDSU snagged Justin Sell from UNI in May of 2009. The progress that Sell has helped along since then is near legendary in status, but for this columns purpose the focus is mat driven. Sells 2012 hiring of Chris Bono as Head Wrestling Coach was a classic example of “Game recognize Game.”(1) Six ever improving seasons later Sell scanned the horizon for the next great SDSU wrestling coach. As usual he made all the right moves in making then Cornell Associate Head Coach Damion Hahn realize it was time to head West and Head Coach it up. Three seasons and a contract extension later an already top flite staff(2) added former Penn State star Brady Berge as their Volunteer Assistant. Hahn, Assistant Coaches Cam Simaz, Cody Caldwell and now Berge will work with three dozen athletes. The four seniors have a single starter from last year, Minnesota transfer Hunter Marko, listed at 157 after going 6-9 at 149 last season. It’s highly expected that Former Fresno St. National qualifier A.J. Nevills will be the 285lb starter. That WOULD enable fine young sophomore big man Spencer Trenary to take a tune-up redshirt year. If Nevills takes Trenarys spot eight of last years 10 SDSU starters can conceivably be that again. All American Clay Carlson (8th @ 141) along with sophomore Zach Price @ 133 are a nice one-two lightweight punch. Let’s not count out but instead get a SHOUT-OUT to Frisco, TX, Centennial Highs own 125lb Gregory Coapstick, who will battle to get quality mat time in his last go round. Back in the middle of things, if Marko moves up to 157 he’ll bump into Cade Devos, who made the NCAAs second round as a first year starter in 2021. Odd men out could be hard luck senior Colton Carlson @165, who’s yet to finish a season plus .500 in four tries. Or Cade King, 10-10 @ 174. Brookings HS hometown hero Jacob Schoon struggled a bit as a redshirt freshman at 184, always a meat grinder weight class in wrestling. One thing lost in the wash of SDSUs good but not great post season showing was that two Jackrabbits were both one match away from AA status, and they have five seasons between them to address that. The aforementioned Price won two more matches and lost 10 less in 2021 than in 2020, and 197lb Tanner Sloan ran off a 14-0 start before a 3-4 finish kept him off the podium. The schedule is tournament heavy with a twist as the Jackrabbits picked two major and one smaller event specifically to test their non starters. As it’s laid out, though, it looks like SDSU will know who’s doing what where by the end of November. Heck, maybe they do already. You know how fast JackRabbits are.

•SDSU 2021-2022

•11/13 @ Bison Open

•11/19 Northern State & Augustana

•11/21 Warren Williamson Daktronics Open

•11/28 @ Minnesota @ Cyclone Open (nonstarters)

•12/3-4 @ Cliff Keen Las Vegas

•12/4 @ Doane Open (nonstarters)

•12/18 @ Nebraska

•1/12/29-30 @ Midlands (nonstarters)

•1/1-2/2022 @ Southern Scuffle

•1/9 Wyoming & UNI

•1/15 @ Utah Valley

•1/22 @ Missouri

•1/23 @ SIUE + CMU

•1/28 West Virginia

•2/4 @ Oklahoma State

•2/6 @ Oklahoma

•2/11 Northern Colorado

•2/13 Little Rock

•2/20 NDSU (Border Bell)

ALL OVERLOOKED & UNDERRATED TEAM, 157LBS: JOHNNY LOVETT, CMU

So much is made of the “not recruited much, chip on my shoulder” attitude in wrestling. Sometimes it’s accurate, sometimes not, and sometimes the athlete in the description is way past the point of outside, artificial sources of motivation. Such a wrestler is redshirt freshman 157lb Johnny Lovett. Out of a heritage Florida program, Miami Southridge, the Spartan became a Chippewa after uber-experienced CMU Coach Tom Borelli caught more than a flash of potential in him. As a HS junior Lovett ripped through the ever toughening FL field, going 53-3 with his first title. He had a “you feelin me?” moment with a top four finish at high schools toughest tournament, the Super 32, Summer before senior year. Score his final HS season title number two, 58 w’s, 0 losses. Cap the run with a third place medal at the Senior Nationals, and then it was goodbye for now, Miami, hello Mt. Pleasant. 20-9 out the box as a redshirt, then 10-5 last year in the Covid 19 shortened season. He entered the NCAAs after a third place finish at the MAC tournament. Only a most untimely injury during a tough two point loss stopped Lovett from a next round, bloodround forfeit win and a top eight finish his first year. As this years rankings rolled out #SparChipNC157 (unless Mr. Lovett objects, his new column nickname as an official Twitter handle was not found) was sitting at #22 and #18 respectively. With a full tank and a Spring/Summer touchup or two watch #SparChipNC157 beam up a Transporter room full of hardware this year AND make a strong case for a 3 season renewal of same.

NEWS, NOTES AND NUDGES

Stanford has shifted their schedule a bit. Updates include the Oregon State dual moving to February 20th and a match with Menlo College sliding into the January 29th opening. Also, the Arizona State dual date is now February 5th. If you’re a club swinger get to Palo Alto for the RTC Golf event on Nov. 12th and the mas grande get-down with John Smiths Oklahoma State Cowboys the 13th.

Keep an eye out for ever growing outreach in addition to quality wrestling as Jason Borelli settles in at American. The newly named this year Eagles coach is hard at it on the social media scene. A-U, your preview is coming.

The Hawkeye Wrestling Club has restocked its roster with three excellent competitors. Victoria Francis, Rachel Watters and Jordan Nelson come to Iowa City with championships and international acclaim on the Womens Freestyle Circuit for Team USA. This after all three enjoyed superlative-filled collegiate careers at Lindenwood, Oklahoma City, and Life University respectively. The folks who know exactly and fully what this means for Division One Wrestling are in a VERY small subset. If you, like the Scribe, are fervently hoping with fingers, toes, and eyes crossed for what it MAY mean, hop on board, friend! ALMOST as much room in here as in the Princeton wheelbarrow.

As if Drexel University hadn’t tuned up their staff and team enough for 2021-2022 here comes coach C.J. LaFragola. C.J. took multi-tasking to a whole different level during his academic/athletic career at Brown, then column fav Sacred Heart as a grad student, then the MMA scene. Now he will work with arguably one of the best new staffs assembled this side of the Dakotas or Palo Alto.

Man, that Sam Hazewinkel just can’t help himself. He’s never seen a position in wrestling he didn’t want to try or wasn’t good at. Literally and figuratively. Hazewinkel (SHOUT OUT, Pensacola, FL) was a four time Academic and Athletic Oklahoma Sooner All American and National finalist. He wore the Red, White and Blue at the 2012 Olympics. He coached at the University of Central Oklahoma. Then he ran the program at Oklahoma City University. You know, that Head Coaching gig with the Oklahoma Regional Training Center looks interesting. Check. NOW he is the newly named Volunteer Assistant for Oklahoma Head Coach Lou Rosellis wrestling Sooners. Geez. Here’s some advice. If you have a wrestling job anywhere in Boomer Country, better be polishing up your resume. Hazewinkels always around somewhere, and you’ll never see him coming.

The Ohio University Bobcats grabbed a very good one, adding former Ohio State All American Hunter Steiber to their staff. MAC previews, news and views will dot this space throughout the season, so hang in there, #OHohyeah.

The Spartans are headed to the Scuffle! Head Coach Roger Chandlers Michigan State squad comes South for the New Year bringing a BIG 10 Power with seven National qualifiers to Chatt -AA-OO…AA-OO…AA-OO…ga. Then they shall wrestle in the ☀️!

Its “Scuffleicious news Part Dueuk”(3) as Glen Lanham will take his Duke Blue Devils back to Chattanooga Jan. 1st and 2nd. Duke shows up and shows out whenever they come down to Chatt-Town for the Scuffle. Look for Lanhams bunch to receive a full and proper look-see in this column soon.

SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON

•UTC 2021-2022

•10/30 BLUE-GOLD MATCH

•11/6 EMMANUEL

•11/13 @ Davidson + Rutgers, Clarion

•12/11 @ SIUE, Illinois

•12/20 @ WVU, Cleveland State

•1/1-2/2022 SOUTHERN SCUFFLE

•1/14-15 @ The Virginia Duals

•1/28 @ Gardner-Webb

•1/30 @ Campbell

•2/4 The Citadel

•2/6 Appalachian State

•2/13 VMI, Presbyterian

•2/18 @ Bellarmine

•2/20 @ Indiana

Year four of “The Kyle Ruschell Initiative” sets up just fine in the Scenic City as Head Coach Kyle and assistants T.J. Ruschell and Hunter Gamble welcome 27 Mocs including eight newcomers. UTC’s four National qualifiers from 2021 return and they all hold down a top 33 preseason ranking. 125lb Fabian Gutierrez and 184lb Matthew Waddell are aiming for their third NCAA bid. It’s a quality not quantity group as every Moc starter but one finished with a winning record. If “hvywt” Grayson Walthall can add some extra lbs. in that weight room to go along with his quickness, skill and smarts, his results will flip far into the plus column also. Since Coach Ruschell slid into the top Mocs spot a few short months after arriving in Chattanooga in 2018 UTC has pretty much done as expected, with one major exception. The SoCon Tournament title drought has entered year seven, as much a tribute to the ever faster improvement conference wide as anything else. That there’s been a near half dozen starter seasons lost to injury or worse has played a not insignificant part in slowing UTCs progress a tat. That’s the past. Presently the Mocs have eight starters ready for a big return this year, nine if you count 165/174lb swing man Carial Tartar. Tartar moved up for an injured Hunter Fortner and never looked back as Drew Nicholson grabbed 165 and ran with it to a SoCon title, the Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler award, and the NCAAs. 157lb freshman Weston Wichmans NCAA qualifying season was perhaps the Mocs most pleasant suprise last year. Or maybe it was smooth 141lb Franco Valdes (SHOUT OUT, Miami, FL Southwest High) 10-1 season after 2 bumpy years at 133. Academically he’s landed on the Deans List every year. Undefeated till the post season, a SoCon Tournament day-of injury aggravation during practice ended his 2021 campaign prematurely. That has likely put some extra wind beneath the current Moc and former Eagles (4) wings. Will promising redshirt freshman Noah Castillo (SHOUT OUT, Orlando, FL Lake Highland Prep) assume the 149lb spot? Posiblamente as three wrestlers at this weight class combined for a 9-12 mark last year and the two with winning records there are no longer rostered. 197lb freshman stud Logan Andrew saw first year success in 2021 and Castillo is a three time state champ and National award winner from the same powerhouse High School stable. There’s a nice mix of incoming freshmen and semi-experienced guys from 125 to 165 but it’s not likely any will start. Not with Gutierrez [@Faybeein_g], Landers and Valdes down low. Probably not with SoCon 2021 Freshman of the year Wichman and Conf. champ Nicholson wrestling back to back, either. ALWAYS good to be strong up the middle, and Tartar being a fully formed 174 would help that immensely. He’s currently listed at 165, though. Hmmm. At 184 Waddell will end up being, barring illness, injury or early graduation, a four year upper weight main cog in the Mocs machine. He’s hit the podium at the Scuffle, won the Appalachian Open, and found hard luck Silver twice at the SoCon tournament. At 184 28 out of the NCAA field of 33 return, 14 of the Top 16. Two 174lb AAs from the 2021 season have entered the weight class. AND there’s two guys who you, if you read this column, already know will be threatening to wrestle Friday and possibly Saturday come Championship weekend. Conference foe Caleb Hopkins, who beat Waddell for the SoCon title last year, isn’t going anywhere either. Good. That way Waddell won’t have to hunt him down. LOVE the whole Conference. NO apologies for the UTC bias, either, though all of the SoCon deserves and will always get the respect and the love here. Word. Many, actually.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) Even an Old Scribe can notice that late. It takes rare talent to see it early. Sell level talent.

(2) There’s 11 NCAA appearances, eight AA awards, 5 finals and three National titles in this crews combined resume.

(3) In French the “K” is silent, you large-brained purveyors of grappling garrulousness, you.

(4) Valdes coach at Southwest, the butter-smooth, concrete tough Joel Mendez, blazed to an FHSAA 119lb title back in the late 80s when the Scribe was in his 30s and gas was in its mid 80s. Cents a gallon, that is.