5th Season, Column 39: Kiss n make up, ACC style, Weight class conundrums, & Bellarmine won’t stop, can’t stop

Virginia Tech and NC State show they can relate the way NATO and Russia should, so many great wrestlers, so few podium spots, and the SoCons newest is never without a fight.

Don’t bother to say you emulated this columns title in anger when you heard the January 21st super dual between NC State and Virginia Tech was kiboshed at the last minute. How can you aim your hands up when your, the authors and damn near everybody else’s fingers were aimed straight at Blacksburg, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina. Except perhaps both middle ones, sending a flock of bad feelings directly at ACC headquarters and the people who set the conference cancellation/forfeit rules and regulations. View here was and IS that if a conference with oh, say, a DOZEN AND A HALF (1) members can work multi-date swaps and reschedules between multiple teams why can’t a conference a third the size AND with a smaller geographic footprint do the same? Well, thank goodness, somebody(ies) somewhere snatched this gigantic victory for ALL wrestling from the jaws of defeat and it WILL happen. Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY February 20th Coach Tony Robies Virginia Tech Hokies will go beak to jaw with Coach Pat Popolizios NC State WolfPack in Raleigh. See this Seasons Column 37 for the first of several write-ups about this now back-on mega brouhaha. It will be covered, no doubt, by Jason Bryant’s Inside Virginia Tech wrestling, Pack Mentality Pop-ins, Tuffy Talk, VT insider and more, and those are just the school specific broadcasts, folks. There’s a DEEP pool of ACC individual superstars and five, perhaps all six, conference squads will finish Top 25 when all is said and done at the NCAAs in Detroit. While there’s no regular season title implications in this clash of Titans, NOTHING can lower the heat when these two meet.

The top big boys at 285 had a semi round robin set of matches these past few weeks to decide the order of finish behind defending Olympic and NCAA Champ Gable Steveson of Minnesota. Mason Parris of Michigan took on Greg Kerklviet of Penn State. For the dual it didn’t matter as Cael Sandersons Nittany Lions had already won the meet. Kerklviet took Parris down multiple times on the way to an 8-5 victory. Kerklviet would then be beaten by Tony Cassioppi of Iowa. Whom Parris pinned multiple times last year. No Michigan-Iowa dual meet this year, so Parris-Cassioppi can’t happen till the Conference tournament or NCAAs. There’s a last dual of the season showdown looming with 2X AA Matt Stencel of CMU for Parris though. Stencel has a bump (or 3 actually) on this year’s resume. One of Stencels bumps, an injury default loss to Cassioppi at the Collegiate Duals. Cassioppi has also defeated 2X AA Jordan Wood of Lehigh this year, Woods only loss. Wood has beaten Stencel twice this year. Stencel has a 2-4 record against Parris through the years. And please don’t forget last years 4th place NCAA finisher Cohlton Schultz of Arizona State, undefeated this year. His only two college losses? Both in his first season last year, both to Cassioppi. There’s undefeated Wyatt Hendrickson of Air Force, the Southern Scuffle Champ, who’s won by major decision, tech fall or pin in every match but two. The only clarity at the top weight is at the very top. Minnesota’s Steveson has lost 2 scholastic matches to one person and to no one the past college three seasons. He’s soundly defeated Cassioppi and Parris so far and is the far and away biggest favorite in any weight class. So while the number one spot at 285 seems fully spoken for, the maneuvering for 2-8 is fierce indeed. And, perhaps, not limited to just the guys listed above. More on that another time.

When you’re the new kid on the block you can expect slow growth and some growing pains. It’s quite safe to say that neither of those truths sit well with Ned Shuck, the Bellarmine Knights Head Coach. Through the run of a very challenging second SoCon season, Shucks first at the helm, he’s kept his calm, his cool, his perspective and his enthusiasm. Here’s part two of the interview with the Knights mentor, continued from this seasons Column 23.

Who has stepped up as the best wrestlers for the Knights so far this season?

“Our best wrestlers based on results have been Devan Hendricks and Erick Beck. Cole Nance is suprising some people this year. He’s a great kid and a hard worker who loves to compete. (I feel) Bellarmine is the best kept secret here! We have a lot of work to do to showcase what our school is about and show why there is so much excitement for our programs future. We have an amazing academic reputation for preparing our graduates to land the jobs of their dreams right after graduation. Our wrestling program and the athletic department as a whole is really stepping it up from a funding, facilities, and support standpoint. The secret sauce is in the amazing people behind our athletes (whom) we get to interact with daily and build forever relationships with.”

Wheres Ned Shuck the husband, father, coach, mentor on the scale now as measured against where he expected to be?

“I love to speak about personal accountability. In short, I’m exactly where God wants me to be. For me to be a great husband, father, coach, mentor I need to be intentionally working on each of those roles. ( I need) to connect with my own mentors in these areas to continue progressing in my habits and in the examples I provide.” Coach Shuck went into detail here about the importance of communication with your spouse. “Marriage takes conscious intentional effort to improve and when Christ isn’t at the center, I fall short. All that said, our marriage is stronger than ever and I am incredibly grateful for Jenn. As a father I’m trying to take it all in and enjoy every fleeting moment. My kids (are at the ages when) they still enjoy spending time with me so I’m embracing those moments and trying to help them think, act and be honorable boys. I’m enjoying attempting to be a master encourager in wrestling and leave the coaching to their coaches.” THAT mantle of responsibility gets put on all day, every way when it comes to the team, though, with a full life focused perspective. “Being a mentor is the most important role in my job as a college wrestling coach. These men need someone that they can trust has their best interest in mind no matter what….The culture of our program is based on love for each other. No matter what is going on our relationships with each other ensure we support each other in the best and worst of times. I’ve seen a lot in all my years of coaching. There is no problem or situation too small for me to work through with my men to ensure they are believing in themselves and confident that the best times are ahead of them. That they can overcome whatever the World throws at them.”

So what’s the most pleasing and what’s the most challenging aspect of becoming Bellarmines Head Coach?

“The most pleasing aspect is that every success and failure is my responsibility. I love that! The most challenging is that there are a lot of things to work on when building a program. Prioritizing and keeping the main thing, the main thing is crucial. How I respond to distractions will have a significant impact on the trajectory of our program.”

There’s more to come at a later date as Coach Shuck lays out the importance of social media in all aspects of the program, his favorite places to nosh in Louisville, and more.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras

(1) OK, 17, but still. Looking at you with respect and affection, E.I.W.A., but you knew that already.