Season 5, Column 23: Ned Shuck & Bellarmine; Overlooked and Underrated, 197 & 133; And here comes the Season!

2021-2022 Bellarmine

•11/7 Indiana & SIUE •11/13 @ GMU Patriot Duals/GMU, Bucknell, & Averett •11/21 @ Purdue Duals/Duke, Brown, & Northern Illinois •12/4 @ SIUE Cougar Clash •12/11* @ Cleveland State Open •12/11* Ohio University •12/19 Appalachian State •1/1-2/2022 @ Southern Scuffle •1/6 Mat Mayhem Open •1/9 @ Presbyterian Tri-Meet/Presbyterian & Campbell •1/16 Gardner-Webb •1/22 Davidson •1/28 @ VMI •2/5 @ Edinboro Open •2/13 The Citadel •2/18 UTC

Let’s just say Ned Shuck doesn’t like easy. His first year, first schedule as the First Knight would bring nightmares to every armor clad hero this side of El Cid. Bellarmine charges into a bakers half dozen of tournaments and quad meets from their own in Louisville to Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Illinois. They’ll have enough frequent galloping miles for new armor for everybody. Hey, win a title or two up in Edinboro come February (unlikely but possible) and there’s your sword. Claymores are tough to wield from horseback, though. As Bellarmine is just in year two of their SoCon sojourn, post season tournaments are a no go. On the dual side of things they face foes from the Big 10, the MAC, the ACC, & the E.I.W.A. in addition to their SoCon schedule. That schedule asterisk probably indicates a split squad situation on December 11th with the starters hosting Joel Greenlees Ohio Bobcats and a second group going to Cleveland where Knights may well clash with Vikings.(1) So, who’s donning the armor and repping the #SwordsUp motto? It’s a 27 strong squad with two thirds of last years roster returning. Included in that group are three 2021 seniors, Eric Beck, Corey Noth, and Alex Rhine. The current group is heavy at the top and the bottom with nine seniors overall and eight freshmen. The Knights have six sophomores and just four juniors so it’s likely Coach Shuck and newly named assistant Brendan Murphy will have two feet on the recruiting trail and at least one eye on the transfer portal. Roster home state homeboy SHOUT OUTS to sophomore 157lb Easton Tobia, Lake Highland (FL) Prep, and freshman 133lb Jude Camancho, Houston (TX) Cypress Ranch.

10 Questions for Ned Shuck & Bellarmine

•1. What are some realistic goals for your school in year two of the Socon?

•”I have a hard time with the word “realistic.” I haven’t heard a lot of people I would consider great or masters in their field talk about how they set realistic goals that helped them achieve on an extraordinary level. Our goals as a team are related to the fight, attitude and effort we execute in competition. The standard we set for ourselves is our measurement and nothing else really matters. In terms of wins and losses, which is an obvious measurement of performance for outsiders, supporters and haters…I like to hear people talking about how we are going to climb to the top of the SoCon. The others I don’t hear so well.”

•2. The SoCon is plus one in growth the past few years, losing SIUE but adding a new team in Presbyterian and then welcoming Bellarmine. Do you feel the expansion is done, or are more teams coming? Would you welcome that and if so, why?

•”The expansion of our sport definitely isn’t done. We are constantly advancing so I fully suspect more schools adding and more coming into the SoCon. The whole country will celebrate that, and if they don’t, they aren’t wrestling fans.”

•3. What were the biggest challenges in filling out your staff?

•”The high standards I set for the people I am willing to work with. There are a lot of really knowledgeable wrestling minds out there. A lot of people that are ambitious. A lot of people with great ideas. A lot of really good workout partners. I’m not so sure there are a lot of people who really enjoy working hard for the betterment of the program and the wrestlers in it more than themselves and the elevation of their personal status as a coach. The expectations of what college wrestling coach positions should pay and the sense of what people believe they are worth is sometimes laughable. I’m so blessed to have a guy like Brendan Murphy who has the knowledge, drive, work ethic and selflessness to give everything he has to help our team build. So when I interviewed him, it was a done deal. He gets it. And Mikey Tortorice, shoot, this guy was coming along whether I hired him or not as an assistant. That should tell about where he is at. Sometimes with the biggest challenges the greatest gifts come [along] with them. I was blessed with these two fine coaches to start my time here.”

•4. What makes you smile the most about Bellarmine, and why?

•”My team! Grateful for these men and the heart and soul they are putting in to nake our program great and to continue raising the standard. Their growth brings a continues a contagious smile amongst us all. We are having fun together, challenging each other, and taking in the moments.”

THANK YOU, Coach Shuck, and keep your eyes peeled for part two with the Coach in a later column.

Overlooked and Underrated, 197lbs: Matt Correnti, Rider

One might accuse the Scribe of Jerzey bias, fondness for a school that multiple family members attended, or appreciation of Coach John Hangeys decision to bring his Broncs to the Southern Scuffle. Triple Yahtzee on that call, but the real-real reason the Rutgers transfer makes this squad is simple. He’s just that good. Correnti is Jerzey-tough through and through, a four time placewinner and undefeated senior season champ at one of the Nation’s toughest high school tournaments. His Rutgers career included 40 combined wins at 197 and 285 and a trip to the NCAAs. Matt’s brother, Mauro, was a heavyweight for the Broncs, and the Correnti family came full circle when Matt hit the mat for Rider at 197 last year as a grad student. His 5-6 record was deceiving as he finished fourth at the MAC Tournament and his points there helped Rider to the team Bronze medal. Matt will be banging with O.S.T. (Old School Tough) hvt., MAC Tournament finalist and NCAA qualifier Ethan Laird all day, every day, along with fellow MAC 4th place finisher 184lb George Walton. Laird, BTW, will redshirt this year, so throw big sophomore heavyweight Matt Kovacs into that multi-man scrum. Yeah, YOU throw him. Point is, or rather, points are…A motivated and focused Grad student in a home away from home wrestling room with multiple high quality partners, top flite coaching and a simple, stated, singular goal(2) of being the best version of Matt Correnti so far. You gotta problem with that?

Overlooked and Underrated, 133lbs: Derek Spann, Buffalo

133 is all kinds of funky with stars moving in and out of the weight class. Apparently out, Stefan Micic of Michigan and Jarrett Trombley of NC State, going up to 141. And now back where he fits best and where his team will benefit the most, Grad Student Derek Spann of Buffalo. Hes been a two time National qualifier and averaged 21 wins over his last 3 seasons at 133 winning more each season. He was tasked with holding down 141 last year but now he’s back at 133. More than happy to assist with making Spanns last season in Blue and White another memorable one, new Buffalo assistant coach Kyle Shoop. Shoop smothered foes for four NCAA qualifying seasons at Lock Haven, earning All American status as a senior. Yes, Intermat has named Spann Pre season 1st Team All Mid America Conference. Yes, as usual, they are correct. It’s just that when the curtain comes down on the season, his MAC foes won’t be the only conference stars Spann will have passed by.

Unfortunately, heart surgery has a way of slowing columns a bit. Apologies that the opportunity to share picks with all of you regarding the hidden stars at 165, 285, and our last 133 supriser went under the knife last week here in San Antonio. Recovery will be long and painful but 100% effort will be given to both. Thank you!

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) Catch Coach Josh Moores Vikings preview, their schedule breakdown, and their All Overlooked and Underrated star 184lb DeAndre Nassars story in this seasons columns 10, 15, & 18.

(2) For more reasons to believe in Correnti ’22, check the Courier-Times Tom Moore’s excellent feature story, also in USA Today, May 30th, 2020. Just one question, Tom. Taylor Ham or Pork Roll?