Lots to talk about. First, apologies for not posting some wrestling stuff earlier. It's a remarkable phenomenon when one is finally able to soften one's personal obsession; all sorts of new avenues suddenly appear ;) And I'm super-slammed, so this will be fast and link dumpy. Ok? Go!
First, Fargo. The wrestling tournament. It's a huge national prep tournament for Freestyle and Greco-Roman and Penn State incoming freshman and number one recruit last year, Morgan McIntosh wrapped up a stellar HS career with another freestyle championship. At 215 pounds! This is notable because he won at Fargo last year and won 2 of his 3 California state championships at 189 pounds, but, and this should be fun to discuss in the comments, wanted to wrestle up:
"I want to get used to wrestling, bigger, stronger guys," said McIntosh, who was named the 2011 InterMat High School Wrestler of the Year. "It's a big difference going from 189s to 215s. A lot of these guys were 10, 15 pounds bigger than me, so I think it's a good experience being able to wrestle all these strong guys."
It's no secret Penn State struggled at 197 pounds last year and, if McIntosh redshirts and Quentin Wright and Ed Ruth remain at last year's weights of 184 & 174, would do so again this year. With Iowa and Oklahoma State reloading this year, many pundits believe it will be important for McIntosh to hold off his redshirt and jump right in, ala Andrew Alton last year. What do you think?
Another dude who threw down hard out at Fargo is 16yo incoming tenth-grader, Chance Marsteller. He won his division and weight in both Freestyle and Greco--without giving up a point. You may recall us going uber-creepy last year about this kid, but he didn't disappoint: he ran the PA table, went undefeated and won a state championship his freshman year. BSD reader and wrestling blogger Kx/Kr had a long interview with Marsteller on his PSU TOM blog here. It sounds like Marsteller is interested in going the route of Olympic Gold-Medalist Henry Cejudo and just skipping college altogether, instead focusing solely on the Olympics and international competition. Lots of good stuff in there, but my favorite was when Kurt asked him if any of the wrestlers at the Olympic Training Center took it easy on him when they knew he was still in high school:
I am pretty sure that they weren’t. I would go out after them & sort of shock them to make sure that they would come back after me. I knew that they would so I am pretty sure that they weren’t taking me too lightly out there.
Legendary wrestling icon Dan Gable was instrumental in coordinating an 'Alliance' between three very important governing bodies in the sport of wrestling: USA Wrestling, the National Wrestling Coaches Association and the National Hall of Fame. Win Magazine caught up with Gable for an interview and, if you are remotely interested in following wrestling in any way going forward, it's kinda a requirement to read or listen whenever this cat talks. The interview was very interesting in its discussion of the future of the sport and the people who run it and even included this gem from Gable about Cael Sanderson's role in the sport (emphasis mine):
You have to realize that everyone is unique. If Cael tries to be someone he is not (by allowing additional media coverage), it could affect him in ways and areas that he is successful in. This is his personality and he does it in another way. Eventually, if he keeps having the success he is having as an athlete and coach, he will have that impact and pick up better communication skills to help him later on. Not everyone is an ideal person for everything. Could he do more for overall wrestling? Yes, but would that affect his Penn State team or his wrestling as an individual? He’s got to feel comfortable with it. Over time, I believe he will develop some of these other traits. Right now, he has his own excitement and that’s enough for him and I believe that will help the sport. We have got to respect the big contributors to our sport. Just the fact that Cael came out of retirement with success has done more for wrestling than anything else.
David Taylor Interview
Lastly, amid the news of the folkstyle offseason, one member of the wrestling community was very, very quiet. You may recall Penn State wunderkind David Taylor's season ended in disappointment when he got pinned by former Penn Stater Bubba Jenkins in the national championship match. Although Taylor has historically been very very active in the Freestyle scene, he didn't appear in any of this spring and summer tournaments and effectively removed all consideration of Olympic redshirt possibilities. This of course is good news (same goes for Quentin Wright) for Penn State's chances of defending their Big Ten and National Championships next season, but only if Taylor is alright in the head.
Now, there are a lot of wrestling fans who scoff at notions or talk of going undefeated, and understandably so. It's a brutal physical and mental sport and the competition is often very, very tough. Many things can go wrong and obstacles abound. But I love it. The talk and the possibilities of running the tables, that is. The mano-a-mano nature of wrestling makes that possibility--and the preposterous odds against it--really fun for me as a fan. Just as Marsteller above still has a clean record and a chance at Cary Kolat's undefeated PA prep record, David Taylor was staring down the barrel of equaling Sanderson's collegiate accomplishment as he walked out to face Jenkins in the final (granted, he still had three more full years ahead of him, but still: he hadn't yet lost). Then he got pinned. The whole prospect got blown up in spectacular fashion, and on the biggest stage. I have no idea, but am eminently curious about, what that does to an elite wrestler. And although I figured Taylor was in good hands to overcome that disappointment (in the Penn State mat room under Sanderson's tutelage), I was very curious about his relative silence and disappearance. Thankfully, the guys at Flo got hold of him for an interview and we learn he's probably gonna be ok ;) In it, he admits that he needed to skip this year's Freestyle season to get over the loss.
Last comment on DT: obviously, I really want to like him. If I were a fan of another team, there would probably be a bunch of things I could find to deride him about, but I'm a Penn State fan, so I go into following him with a hopeful attitude. And, not surprisingly given that, I do like him. Dude's a great student in the classroom, looks and sounds about as well-rounded as an elite wrestler can possibly be and I think he's in the right place for his goals. I like the way he talks about having fun, and if you've followed the little bit that Sanderson actually discloses about his Penn State coaching, you know it comes from him. And you can see how important that is. Especially after what happened on the mats in March. And you know what? I set the table well enough, I'll go ahead and say it: I wouldn't bet against this kid losing again at all the next three years.