It’s time, friends. You’ve had a full month to recover from the ecstasy of yet another Penn State Wrestling national championship (those never get old, do they?). Next, get ready to watch the US Open. Twenty (20) Penn State Nittany Lions - past, present, and future - take the mats in Las Vegas this week to be crowned best in the US of A, land of the free, home of the brave.
HOW TO WATCH
WHAT: the US Open
WHEN: Greco on Wednesday/Thursday (4/26 - 4/27); Freestyle on Friday/Saturday (4/28 - 4/29)
WHERE: Las Vegas, NV
VIDEO: FloWrestling (must be a subscriber; $150 per year - I think Flo kilt the monthly option, but I’m not certain).
RADIO WAVES: none that I’m aware of.
DESPERATE MEASURES: TrackWrestling will run it’s “mat cast” scoreboard thing; also expect USA Wrestling to upload a ton of match highlights and interviews to YouTube.
First on the mat will be incoming PSU freshman Mason Manville, aka “the Anvil”, aka “the halo kid”, who’s competing in Greco at the Senior level, 75kg (165.3 lbs). You know him already for one or more things: a) his top-10 overall recruit ranking; b) deferring his enrollment at PSU to train at the national Oly training center in Colorado Springs; c) his Cadet world medals (in both freestyle and greco); d) joining Army ROTC; and/or e) having his head taped up for every match, because he uses his face as a weapon. Take your pick - lots of things to like with this new 2017-edition Nittany Lion. This will be Mason’s first competition (that we get to watch) since the 2016 World Team Trials (where he made the semis), so we’re pretty excited to see him back out there. Plus, unlike last year’s Team Trials, his 2017 Open bracket won’t feature Geordan Speiller (80kg), Kendrick Sanders (71kg), Chaney Haight (80kg), or Andy Bisek, who’s rumored to have retired. Expect big things from Mason.
Then, on Friday, the Nittany Lion fur really starts to fly. Juniors and Seniors freestyle gets fought at the same time - a smorgasbord of elite, high-scoring, fast-paced wrestling action. Here’s a quick rundown of your Penn Staters (past, present, and future):
Junior-55kg (121.2lbs): Gavin Teasdale (2018 recruit), Devin Schnupp (2016/17 FR)
Senior-57kg (125.6lbs): Nico Megaludis (2016 National Champ), Roman Bravo-Young (2018 recruit)
Junior-60kg (132.2lbs): Mason Lindenmuth (2016/17 FR)
Senior-61kg (134.5lbs): Jordan Conaway (2015-2016 All-American)
Junior-63kg (138.9lbs): Nick Lee (2017 recruit), Brian Friery (2016/17 FR)
Senior-65kg (143.3lbs): Frank Molinaro (2012 National Champ, 2016 Olympic Team), Zain Retherford (2016-2017 National Champ)
Junior-66kg (145.5lbs): Bo Pipher (2016/17 FR)
Junior-70kg (154.3lbs): Joe Lee (2018 recruit)
Senior-70kg (154.3lbs): Jason Nolf (2017 National Champ)
Junior-74kg (163.1lbs): Mark Hall (2017 National Champ)
Senior-74kg (163.1lbs): Matt Brown (2015 National Champ), Dan Vallimont (2010 National Runner Up)
Senior-86kg (189.6lbs): David Taylor (he’s David freaking Taylor), Bo Nickal (2017 National Champ)
Junior-120kg (264.5lbs): AJ Nevills (brother of Nick and Seth; probably has a ton of PSU t-shirts at this point)
That’s a whole lotta Lions - which speaks to one reason why potential recruits might want to join PSU. Twenty Lions. (For comparison, Okie State has around 10 total, and Iowa just 4 among the seniors.) NLWC ought to make a “got partners?” t-shirt.
Anyhow - give a little coin to Flo if you haven’t done so already, and watch our guys. You can cancel later, and you’ll get a refund of the unused months - meaning this week’s action only costs you $20, not a full-year’s $150. (Ehh, probably. Perhaps. This is not an endorsement of Flo, nor a guarantee of their service. Caveat Emptor. Individual results may vary. Good luck. Tape your laces. And have fun storming the castle, boys.)
OTHER STUFF - JUNIORS FREESTYLE
There are wrestlers competing at the Open who are not, and will never become Nittany Lions. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to State College. Here are some notable names, and things to keep an eye on:
- Junior 55kg is loaded, and includes returning Junior World bronze medalist (and 2017 Okie State commit) Daton Fix.
- 63kg is NOT a World Team weight - as far as I know - yet it is stacked with a who’s-who of elite lightweight recruits from 2016 - 2017. Ben Freeman (MICH), Luke Pletcher (OHST), Kaden Gfeller (OKST), and PSU’s Nick Lee.
- 66kg - Kanen Storr (ISU), Pat Lugo (BORO), Carter Happel (IOWA), and the new kid, super frosh (and Cadet gold medalist) Yianni Diakomihalis (CORN).
- 74kg - David McFadden (2016 AA for VaTech) returns to the mat; highly ranked 2016 recruits (who redshirted) Alex Marinelli (IOWA), Austin Kraisser (CAMP), Hayden Hidlay (NCST), Evan Wick (WISC), plus Thomas Bullard (NCST), Taleb Rahmani (PITT), and 2017 croot Jake Allar (MINN), and 2018 croot Trent Hidlay (but yeah - this is defending World gold medalist Mark Hall’s weight).
- Similarly, 86kg belongs to Zahid Valencia. Nick Reenan (NCST), Jelani Embree (MICH), Andrew Marsden (OKST), and Keegan Moore (OKST) will take their shots at him.
- 96kg is up for grabs. Your favorites to take the spot include Sammy Colbray (ISU), Ben Darmstadt (CORN), Chase Singletary (OHST), Eric Shultz (NEB), John Jakobsen (LEH), and keep an eye on Christian Brunner (PURD).
- 120kg, despite the excessive weight, should be a blast. Jordan Wood (LEH) returns to keep his spot. 2018 top recruit (and 2x Cadet gold medalist) Gable Steveson (MINN) looks to take it away from him. Plus most of the rest of the top heavies from the past 2 or 3 recruiting classes will be in town: Ben Stone (WISC), Shawn Streck (PURD), Andrew Dunn (VATECH), and Rylee Streifel (MINN).
OTHER STUFF - SENIORS FREESTYLE
- 57kg - quick shout out to 2018 verbal commit Roman Bravo-Young, who clearly loves a challenge. He’s currently a high school junior, and according to Flo’s registration page, he’s gonna roll with a senior field that includes 5 different past NCAA champs - plus Obe Blanc, who made his first US World team (2010) when RBY was in elementary school.
- 65kg - way to go, Dan Osterman (MSU) and Mario Mason (RUTG). These guys graduated college many moons ago. They’re not assistant coaches anywhere, as far as I know. Apparently, they just love wrestling. That’s pretty cool, and is one of the great things about the “Open”. Feeling itchy (and you’re at least a little crazy)? Get off the couch, grab your boots, and go roll.
- 70kg is the “almost” bracket. James Green, Dylan Ness, Jason Chamberlain, James Fleming, Jason Welch, Hunter Stieber - they were all plenty good enough to win an NCAA title, yet didn’t, by the slimmest of margins and reasons. The very top of the mountain is screwy sometimes. In other news, Alec Pantaleo is going here, so don’t be surprised if he takes over 157 next year for Michigan, instead of returning to 149.
- 74kg. Jordan Burroughs, who ruled planet Earth for 6 consecutive years, finally lost in Rio last fall. As friend of BSD Dan “Nomad” Lobdell noted at Flo, the king must fight to keep his throne. And it’s gonna be awesome.
- 86kg welcomed everyone. My goodness but there are a ton of familiar names on the registration sheet. Take your pick, from redshirting Pete Renda (NCST), to hey-remember-him Nick Heflin (now at Princeton, of all places). Anthony Jones. I believe that’s the same Anthony Jones who lost to Dylan Alton in the NCAA quarters in...2012, maybe? At 157 lbs. Here he is - presumably - five years later at 189.6 (we can all relate).
- 97kg gives us Dustin “Killer” Kilgore (KENT), and the last guy to beat Kyle Snyder in folkstyle, Kyven “Ice Cream” Gadsen (ISU) - plus, believe it or not, Ty Walz, who apparently trimmed himself down from NCAAs to wrestle here, at 213.8 lbs. You’re not cutting 30 pounds in 6 weeks by eating Chipotle, that’s for sure. So Ty is clearly making some big sacrifices.
- 125kg - let’s go, Nick Gwiazdowski. Show everyone what big boy pants offense looks like, and banish the zero-shots, collar-ties, push out kings to the also-ran category.