5th Season,Column 41: Titles settled, settling, and TBD

Who’s top dog in-season for the SoCon, the BIG 12, the ACC, the MAC, and the PAC 12 have been or are going to be decided through a 9 day run here in Mid-February, even if some of those crowns don’t count.

For all intents and purposes the regular season SoCon title was decided when App States 125lb Caleb Smith took down Campbells 2X SoCon champ Korbin Meink in OT to secure a 19-13 win for the Mountaineers over the Camels. Meink, one of this columns two All Overlooked and Underrated 125lb stars, was Campbell coach Scotti Sentes choice for last man up in the match. Good choice, bad result for the visitors because App State wunderkind Smith continued his very impressive rs sophomore season. Smith gave a heart sign to his teammates and was carried halfway off the mat in celebration. The match featured full intensity across all 10 weight classes. App. St. AA 149lb Jonathan Millners 3-2 victory over previously unbeaten Josh Heil of Campbell made the most noise nationally from the dual. The win secured Conference wrestler of the week for Millner, who also earned the monthly award for January. Key for the Mountaineers as well: App States Thomas Flitzs 3-2 win over Campbells defending 174lb SoCon champ Austin Murphy. Then, the visiting Camels flexed their upper weight prowess with 3 straight wins and 10 match points from 184-285. Folks, keep your eyes on Campbell hvt.Taye Ghadiali. His 15-5 manhandling of tough, 2 year App. St. big man Michael Burchell locked down the number one seed at the SoCon Tournament for Ghadiali. That wt. class deserves more attention than it’s getting but with this years crop of big men it’s tough to get noticed. So, yes, App State may yet stumble against Davidson Friday or Presbyterian Sunday, but not likely. Andy Lausiers Wildcats are not quite there yet and the Blue Hose are still taking toddler steps. So, in the SoCon it’s one title down and one to go. Look for the SoCon Tournament preview the first week of March in this very column.

Central Michigans 28-10 triumph over John Stutzmans double tough Buffalo Bulls squad this past weekend in Mt. Pleasant tied down a MAC West Division regular season title for the Chippewas. Tom Borellis team stayed true to season long form as they were only a point off their average conference dual meet score of 28-9 this year. Their super impressive regular season, highlighted in columns 36, 37, and 40 earlier this year, comes to a close with the Mitten State Round Robin. That’s a highly unofficial title for the Friday-Sunday away/home matchups with Michigan State and Michigan. As the Scribe is happily a fan of all three programs and blessed to receive informative help from them for this column, the cheers will be for all three to score points and stay healthy. For Buffalo it’s a grand season regardless and a marvelous rebound from several early season disappointments. Buffalo took two of 6 matches decided by 3 points or less, 3 wins overall, so room for improvement still exists prior to Saturdays finale at Ohio. Kudos to 133lb Derek Spann, who tied a school dual meet win record. He’s at 52 victories with a 9-0 major decision win. Kudos also to MAC East Division champs Lock Haven. The Bald Eagles have won eight straight and their only conference loss? To Buffalo. Scott Moores crew effectively settled the issue with their solid wins over column favorite Cleveland State and Edinboro last weekend. A high flying Eagle of note, 165lb Ashton Eyler, 29-8 on the year. His win over tough, nationally ranked Riley Smucker of Cleveland State and an equally impressive major decision triumph against Edinboro earned him Conference wrestler of the week. That’s the fifth time for a Bald Eagle to snatch the award this season, second time around for Eyler.

Arizona State swept its five PAC 12 foes for the unofficial in season crown. You can bet the Sun Devils are vastly more focused on the conference tournament as they aim for their fifth title in six years. That crown will be harder to come by this year as Jon Sioredas Cal Poly Mustangs have….well, you know, what they need to challenge Zeke Jones pitchfork wielding crew. Might add, there’s something down there gnawing at the base of that PAC 12 podium and they just might bring it crashing down around everybody. #BuildTheDam, #BreakTheStreak, Beavers! See Column 8 this season for the dangers Oregon State poses to their PAC 12 brethren.

OK, its officially unofficial as the BIG 12 doesn’t honor a regular season conference champ but the winner of the Missouri-Iowa State match will be regular season top dog. They’ve both beaten Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, and Wyoming and have 1 conference loss between the two of them. It’s the last lace-up this season, one would assume, for both Brian Smith’s and Kevin Dressers starters before the Big 12 Tournament. INCREDIBLE matchups from end to end and bench to bench.

The ACC is settling it officially and unofficially as conference leader NC State hosts North Carolina Friday and Virginia Tech on Sunday. If the WolfPack defeats the Tar Heels, State takes the title because Sundays showdown with the Hokies is a “rescheduled non-conference” event. If the Tar Heels pull the upset it’s a three way tie for the crown between the Pack, the Heels and the Hokies. Possibly. More than likely. More than likely won’t happen. What WILL happen this weekend is incredibly intense wrestling both days, as Tech tunes up for the epic Sunday showdown by taking on Virginia in Charlottesville Friday. YO. Somebody get ACC announcer Rock Harrison a spare pair of vocal chords. And get some earplugs while you’re at it.

See you sometime soon!

Ted Carreras