SEASON 5,COLUMN 18: FINDING VIKINGS; ALL OVER-LOOKED & UNDER-RATED TEAM, 157 & 149; 10 QUES-TIONS FOR JIM GIBSON AND VMI; AND SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON

•Cleveland State 2021-2022

•11/7 @ Rutgers + Binghamton & New Jersey City University

•11/14 Purdue

•11/20 @ Navy Classic

•12/11 Cleveland State Open

•12/20 @ West Virginia + UTC

•12/29-30 @ Ken Kraft Midlands

•1/7/2022 @ Kent State

•1/14 @ Clarion

•1/16 Edinboro

•1/21 Rider

•1/23 Navy

•2/5 Ohio

•2/11 @ Lock Haven

•2/13 @ Bloomsburg

•2/20 @ George Mason

•3/4-5 MAC Championships

The Vikings schedule is formidable with 3 tournaments and the Mid American Conference Championships that they host. Perhaps their best shot at maneuvering through one successfully is their own Cleveland State Open. Teams from 5 conferences will test the Vikings in dual meet action. For their preview please see this seasons Column 10, published 8/17. Sadly, no Scuffle for CSU this season. Hopefully we see the longboats at a Scenic City tie up again very soon.

ALL OVERLOOKED AND UNDERRATED TEAM, 157LBS: MARKUS HARTMAN, ARMY

Five of his own conference foes made the NCAA Championships last year. Three E.I.W.A. wrestlers are ranked quite a ways ahead of him to start the season. He’s coming off an injury ruined end of regular AND post-season. 12 of the Top 16 guys who finished ahead of him last year return. NOTHING an Army man likes more than enemies in front. Success and Markus Hartman have been in lockstep since his Barrington, Illinois high school days where he finished fifth, second and first at the State championships. He was the all time winningest wrestler there and his schools outstanding athlete. At West Point he went 14-6 as a freshman, 30-7 as a sophomore. Before last years bang-up Hartman had placed at EVERY tournament over three years for Army except the NCAAs. You’d think a 3-1 win-loss ratio through three seasons as a West Point man would garner a little more preseason respect. Hmph. More factors in favor of a big year for Hartman: he’s bracketed in Armys training room and on the starting roster by two other studs, E.I.W.A. champ 149lb P.J. Ogunsanya and, two weight classes up, E.I.W.A. Champ 174lb Ben Pasiuk. As if THAT’S not enough push in training can you say 2021 NCAA 157lb National finalist Jesse Dellavecchia, new Volunteer Assistant Coach? Sure you can. Feel free to also say that the addition of uber-motivator Scott Green, the continued and continuous toughness of Head Coach Kevin Ward, and the sobering seriousness of a senior West Point cadets season will propel Hartman to heights no Army wrestler has reached in quite some time.

ALL OVERLOOKED AND UNDERRATED TEAM, 149LBS: BRENT MOORE, CLARION

Cop out. You’ll find nothing here about Moore and you’ll LIKE it BECAUSE: this Seasons column nine already contained the Clarion preview and the outline of Moore’s return and resurgence. AND because a deep, definitive and down right excellent piece on the entirety of the Brent Moore story so far has already been written. By current Virginia Tech wrestler and blooming multi-media presence Jake Hart. The young and wrest-full (😆) Hart is a junior 157lb Hokie but a 6th level senior in his style, wit and approach. His Fanco Wrestling website feature on Moore, as well as an earlier piece on column fav Wyoming hvt. Brian Andrews, are MORE than worth your time.

10 QUESTIONS FOR JIM GIBSON AND THE VMI KEYDETS

  • While this is technically year four for you at VMI, one was stolen. Are you at year three or year four regarding progress meeting expectations? “Even though last year was non-traditional, I still feel like it was an important year. Progress has been made a little at a time over the last three years. We still have development that needs doing to meet our goals as a program. As long as we continue to take a step further each year eventually we’ll get there.”
  • You had no chance to recruit for your first year. Would you say that 2018 class is behind or on par with the advancements the recruits you’re landed have made? Why? “At this point the class of 2018 are seniors. With just two of them left we have counted on our underclassmen the last couple of years. They have done an exceptional job taking on a leadership role as underclassmen. Our roster is broken down as follows: seniors – 2, juniors – 10, sophomores – 11, freshmen – 18. So retention for the classes we’ve recruited has been excellent.”
  • Besides more wins, more tournament place winners, and more national qualifiers what are the metrics that will define success for VMI this season? “I will define our success by improvement. Not just on the mat but in the classroom, weight room, etc. If I see we’ve taken steps to become the best version of ourselves then we’ve been successful. If we can continue to improve each year eventually we’ll meet our goals.”
  • Your staff has deep roots in East Coast Wrestling. How do you reel in that Midwest or West Coast prospect? “I think the biggest factor is VMIs reputation. People know the prestige of a VMI education and what it means to graduate from here. That reputation helps us to be able to recruit nationally.”
  • Describe the pride, as you’ve seen it, that your student athletes have in being Keydets? “VMI is a challenging atmosphere in all areas. Anytime that a group of people are faced with a challenge they bond together and are brought close. I feel that’s why people have so much pride in attending VMI.”
  • Tell us why your best wrestler(s) is/are just that, who will suprise us this season, and one secret that makes VMI special. “It comes down to their lifestyle. They need to be committed to making the right choices 24/7. It’s not just what they do in practice every day. It comes down to them making positive choices in every other factor in their lives. I think we are going to see some of our freshmen make an immediate impact for us. Michael Tandurella, Brayden Abell and Justin Hart are some young guys to keep an eye on.”
  • VMI, Air Force, Navy, The Citadel, and Army have all had major coaching changes since 2018. Are the external/internal pressures and expectations that the service academies face more behind these changes than just the W’s and L’s? “I think anytime you’re dealing with a non-traditional institution you are faced with a unique set of challenges. We are all similar but I’m sure we all still face our own unique expectations.”
  • How do you strike the proper work/life balance? How do you help your staff do the same? “For me personally I try to involve my family in as much as possible. We have a very family oriented team atmosphere so I give my wife and kids as much opportunity [as possible] to be involved in what we have going on. Things like VMI sporting events, etc…As coaches we don’t necessarily work traditional hours. I give my staff as much flexibility as they need. As long as our work gets done that’s all that matters.”
  • Where do you send your visitors for good food? “My favorite food is pizza so I usually suggest Salernos Wood-Fired Pizza here in Lexington.”
  • Last word, your words..why VMI? “I believe in the mission of VMI: to produce educated and honorable citizen-leaders. I think a top-notch Division one athletic experience can help in that mission. I was also attracted to the ability to do both academics and athletics at a high level. I was excited about the opportunity to come to VMI and rebuild the strong wrestling tradition here.”
  • THANK YOU, Coach Gibson and BTW, find more good VMI stuff in columns 4, 6, 11 & 13 this season.

SO COOL, SO HOT, SOCON

The Southern Scuffle got the “GO” vote from one of the brightest of wrestling gems this week. John Smiths 34 time National Champion AND defending Southern Scuffle titlists Oklahoma State Cowboys will ride hard into Chattanooga come January 1st. Odds are better than even they’ll be putting a lot of people away wet, too. But NEVER their horses. SON.

George Sansone terrorized NAIA opponents as a 125lb Mountaineer from 1966-69. The late App. State star was 5th in the Nation in 1968. His 45-11 career record remains one of Apps career best in winning percentage. Sansone helped develop the Charlotte High Tarpons into a Southwest Florida wrestling power. The Most Valuable Wrestler award at that areas oldest and most prestigious tournament is named after him. His wife Denise spoke at his induction into the App. State Hall of Fame during ceremonies Sept 18th, an honor long deserved.

•DAVIDSON 2021-2022

•11/7 @ Hokie Open

•11/13 Rutgers + Clarion & UTC

•11/19 West Virginia

•12/5 @ Patriot Open

•12/19 George Mason

•1/1-2/2022 @ Southern Scuffle

•1/14 Franklin & Marshall

•1/21 @ Bellarmine

•1/23 @ Ohio University

•1/30 @ The Citadel + LIU

•2/4 Gardner-Webb

•2/6 @ Campbell

•2/11 @ VMI

•2/18 Appalachian State

•2/27 Presbyterian ( Davidson Centennial Celebration)

Short one Assistant but with a full roster Andy Lausiers Davidson Wildcats go classic in their schedule format. Tournaments up front, duals after the Scuffle straight through to the post season. From here it looks good with about eight winnable or toss-up matches. Interesting sidenote: Lausier and George Mason Coach Frank Beasley must be fishing buddies. If not they will be after this season as the Wildcats will participate in the Patriot Open, hosted by GMU. Then the Patriots come to Davidson for a dual two weeks later and both teams will be in Chattanooga for the Scuffle ten days after that. Maybe we can steal GMU away from the MAC for the SoCon. Folks can dream, can’t they? As to Davidson, need to mention the brothers Sanderlin, sophomore Bryce and freshman Brett. Bryce was an All SoCon Freshman Team selection last season at 157. Brother Brett will hope to find time at 165 behind 2021 starter Anthony Spera and some talented teammates in arguably the SoCons toughest weight class. The Wildcats post season was Covid-19 kiboshed and 197lb Finlay Holstons 10 matches (by record book, 8 in the ledger) were the most by any Davidson wrestler in 2021. Mentioned before but worth saying again, put eyes on two Davidson seniors, 133lb Kyle Gorant and 285lb Mitchell Trigg. The two four year starters were linchpins in Lausiers first recruiting class. Also worth noting, the time, effort, blood, and sweat poured into Lausiers vision for Davidson by seniors Lachlan Rosato, Evan Clark, Finlay Holston, and Erik Eva. NO program in any sport grows without unseen and rarely acknowledged sacrifice, all the more in wrestling. Even more so in a smaller school in a smaller conference with a challenging academic profile. Oh, and about that Centennial Celebration dual meet against Presbyterian to end the season? More in another column. That is a tease AND a close.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras