N.A.I.A. power Southeastern hosts step one on their way to Nationals, The BIG Ivy Trophy one of many big deals on the dual seasons last weekend, and men willing to die to defend our way of life go to war against each other in the Star Match.
Travis Patrick, Coach of rising N.A.I.A. power Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL., has been aiming at this weekend all year. His team, the Fire, finished the regular season 12-3. When asked what has shaped the Fires success most this year, Patrick was succint. “Consistent effort and continued buy-in have been the two biggest factors for us this year. We have wrestled an extremely challenging schedule and the guys have responded well.” Its notable indeed that all 10 Fire wrestlers have been ranked in the Top 20 this year. “The goal”, notes Patrick, “is always to continue to build and improve. We want to make sure our teams focus is on the next practice and the next competition.” Which happens to be the Mid South Conference South Division Championships that the Fire will host this weekend. The Mid South Conference has half a dozen plus Top 20 teams, making it an iron sharpens Iron League, right, Coach? “I absolutely believe it is. We get to test ourselves week in and week out against the best teams in the country. Our guys have to be ready for a battle no matter what [MSC] team we are facing.” As with any program building plan, local buy in is important and the growing talent pool in Florida has taken note of the Fires success. “I think we are headed in a great direction with our relationships with our Florida High School and Club coaches. Being here less than a year we still have a lot of work to do as far as building personal relationships with the coaches and teams. Those relationships are incredibly important to my staff and the success of our program. We will continue to work hard to make meaningful connections across the state. We want SEU to be seen as the premier wrestling program in Florida.” Well said, Coach, but strictly from a fans perspective, how about a half dozen top flite teams in the Sunshine State? Hopefully St. Thomas, 7-5 under the leadership of Head Coach Jake Patacsil(1) and boasting nine All-Academic honorees along with Keiser, with Head Coach Nick Soto (1) will continue their growth and more schools will see the benefits a wrestling program can bring. Looking at you, Sunshine State.
Its Jerzey on Jerzey violence as BIG 10 power Rutgers faces Ivy League and E.I.W.A. force Princeton for the BIG Ivy trophy. Two schools with vastly different student/alumni bases but a shared pattern of excellence and growth in success and popularity duke it out for the BIG Ivy trophy. It’s become a big deal in that small state that the Scribe was born in and maintains much love for. Witness the excellent, in depth analysis on this dual from Intermat honcho Earl Smith, nj.coms Bill Evans, Steven Falk of the Asbury Park Press and a number of other big time writers as proof of its national import. Last time around was 2020 as the Ivy League canceled its Fall Sports last season and BIG 10 schools only wrestled in conference. Princeton’s 18-15 win was their first over Rutgers in 30, count ’em, 30 years. Chris Ayres #GetIn crew were the Kings of the Jerzey wrestling jungle that year as they also beat Rider of the Mid American Conference. They can be again but the host Scarlet Knights come in as favorites, however slight. It’s a 44-34 win edge for Rutgers with 5 ties. With a 1-1 split in the last 2 matches decided by a total of four points, who knows what goes down in this donnybrook? ANYTHING goes, that’s what.
Army-Navy. Navy-Army. The Star Match. Two of the Nations most prestigious Academic/Athletic institutions meet for the 15th time in 20 years. It’s set for Friday the 18th, in Annapolis. Cary Kolats host Midshipmen are coming in hot with two straight wins. Coach Kevin Wards Black Knights, ditto. Both squads feature multiple ranked wrestlers (2) and there will be several ranked versus ranked matchups. Overall the series lies heavily in favor of Navy, 50-10-5, but until last year Army had won 4 straight, their longest winning streak. Then Coach Cary Kolat came aboard at Navy, and now it looks like things will at least be evening out. Last year Navy slipped ahead of Army at the E.I W.A. Tournament as well, though neither squad had the NCAA results they expected. Look for that to change and for this showdown to be, well, a shining star.
In addition to these highlighted battles you might want to check into the amazing ACC action Friday and Sunday, highlighted in this seasons columns 39 and 41 and pretty much everywhere else in the wrestling media world. Friday it’s in State hate as NC State hosts UNC and Virginia “welcomes” Virginia Tech. Then Sunday the dual that was promised brings a prince of a post season preparation event when the WolfPack and the Hokies get after it in Raleighs Reynolds Coliseum. The SoCon wraps up the regular season as well as both Davidson and Presbyterian host App State, (following Presbyterians Friday match at Gardner-Webb) UTC goes to Bellarmine and Indiana and the Citadel hosts VMI. Campbell is off until the Conference tournament.
See you sometime soon!
(1) Patacsil holds the record for most near-fall points at BIG 10 power Purdue, where his ability to crank people over to their backs is still spoken of in hushed whispers. Sotos roots run DEEP in the sandy soil of Florida where he was a three time placewinner, 2X champ for Sprigstead, helping to establish that school as a multi-decade Gulf Coast power. Soto then went on to even greater heights at UTC, where he was undefeated in conference Duals for all four years, then earned four SoCon Tournament titles and NCAA bids as well. College wrestling is in GOOD hands in Florida. We’re just greedy. We want more of them.
(2) AND both squads boast a member of this years “Hand Raised” All Overlooked and Underrated team, both of whom are on target for a strong finish.