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Penn State Wrestling Mailbag

No doubt, you’ve read that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania produced the most NCAA champions, the most finalists, and the most All-Americans of any state in our Union. That’s tradition, mostly.

What you haven’t read - until now - is this. When you place those PA wrestlers into 10-man squads, 3-deep, you get the following:

125 Spencer Lee-IOWA (1st) 27 125 Ethan Lizak-MINN (4th) 18 125 Darian Cruz-LEH (5th) 10
133 Luke Pletcher-OHST (4th) 12.5 133 Scotty Parker-LEH (6th) 6.5 133 Austin DeSanto-DREX (R12) 5
141 Brock Zacherl-CLAR (R12) 2 141 Mikey Carr-ILL (R12) 2 141 Kyle Shoop-LHU (R24) 2
149 Zain Retherford-PSU (1st) 25 149 Ronnie Perry-LHU (2nd) 17 149 Sammy Krivus-UVA (R16) 2.5
157 Jason Nolf-PSU (1st) 23 157 Hayden Hidlay-NCST (2nd) 18 157 Mikey Kemerer-IOWA (4th) 16.5
165 Vincenzo Joseph-PSU (1st) 21 165 Chance Marsteller-LHU (4th) 13.5 165 Garett Hammond-DREX (R24) 2.5
174 Ty Schoffstall-BORO (R16) 1.5 174 174
184 Zack Zavatsky-VATECH (6th) 9 184 Pete Renda-NCST (R12) 3 184 Ryan Preisch-LEH (R12) 2
197 Chris Weiler-LEH (R12) 2 197 Jeric Kasunic-AU (R24) 1 197
285 Michael Boykin-NCST (R24) 3 285 Andrew Dunn-VATECH (R24) 2.5 285 Ryan Solomon-PITT (R24) 2.5

Kinda nuts, ain’t it? The “B” squad took the 4th place trophy, 1.5 points ahead of Michigan and NC State. The “C” squad tied Arizona State for 10th.

On to the mailbag Q & A.

Q: Does Tom Ryan redshirt MyMar, McKenna, and/or Pletcher next season in order to load up for a run at the title in 2019/20? —kavija66

Q: Would you redshirt Martin, McKenna, and Pletcher next year? —ReadingRambler

A: First, let’s look at the returning rosters...

PSU Returning Weight OHST Returning
133 #4 JR-Pletcher
#4 SO Lee 141 #2 SR-McKenna
149 #5 JR-Hayes
#1 SR-Nolf 157 #6 SR-Jordan
#1 JR-Joseph 165 #11 SR-Campbell
#2 JR-Hall 174
#1 SR-Nickal 184 #2 SR-Martin
#5 SR-Rasheed 197 #2 JR-Moore
#3 SR-Nevills 285

...and the new faces.

PSU Incoming Weight OHST Incoming
TFFR Teske 125 TRFR-Heinselman
TRFR Teasdale 125/133 TRFR-Felix
TRFR Bravo-Young 133/141 TRFR-Kinner
RSFR Berge 149/157 TRFR Sasso
RSFR Verkleeren 149/157
TRFR Lee 157/165 TRFR Mattox
RSFR Manville 165/174 RSFR Romero
165/174 TRFR Jordan
174/184 RSFR Smith
184/197 TRFR Hoffman
JR Cassar 197
TRFR Nevills 285 RSFR Singletary

Logically, Ryan has so many top croots coming in, that he’s going to jam up his roster if he sits Luke, Joey, and Myles. Right? More than one of the kids behind them loses a year, if they don’t transfer out. So I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of you.

But kids have left the Ohio State room plenty of times in the last 8 years. Only a great fool wouldn’t know that. Ryan knows that I’m not a great fool - he’d have counted on it! So I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of me.

(I’m more inclined to pull redshirts off of true freshmen, than place them on upperclassmen).

Q: Which two current PSU wrestlers would make the best “professional” wrassler? Best heel? Best face? —MrNoPants

A: No need to speculate on this one. As pasted in the comments, Zain - the face - was addressing a group of youth wrestlers, WHEN OUT OF NOWHERE, “heel” Jason Nolf DDT’d Zain from behind, while Nolf’s villain tag-team partner Bo Nickal gave the count and slapped the mat.

Q: Which is the better pro wrestling grudge match?


A: I retained expert counsel for this answer. Here’s RossWB, from Go Iowa Awesome (and former honcho of The Pants).

Is this like best HYPOTHETICAL grudge match? Because Rock circa 2001 versus Cena circa 2010-12 would have been some epic sh*t.

If it’s the best of those ACTUAL grudge matches, I’d go with Hogan vs Macho, because that was Macho at his peak (and, probably, Hogan at his as well, for as much as that’s worth) and he sold the sh*t out of that storyline so well. JEALOUS EYES.

Q: Could Bo Nickal take Cael Sanderson circa 2001? In one word: no.

Q: Better gold medalist - Sanderson or Kurt Angle? I’m not choosing. You can’t make me. But I’ll add this, since I suspect most of our audience would hop on the Cael bus without hesitation - Kurt Angle was the man.


Q: I did not understand the gameplan from IMar in the final. —sean_

Q: Was IMar’s strategy from the beginning flawed or did he just lose his cool down 4-0?

Q: Is Joseph really stronger than IMar? —ReadingRambler

A: The BSD wrestling team covered this pretty well in the comments already. I’ll add two things: 1) I thought I saw one, maybe two lefty high c attempts from IMar, but they never came close. Either poorly set up, and/or poor commitment. That was strange. 2) Cenzo can freaking roll. On a team with Zain, Nolf, Marky, and Bo - Our Little Meatball is the only one to go 2-for-2. How dumb is that?! Oh sure, sometimes he gets headlocked by a non-qualifier from Buffalo. I get it. But daggone. For those 3 days in March...what’s he given up - maybe 2 takedowns in 10 NCAA tournament matches over his first two years? One to Daniel Lewis off a weird scramble, one to IMar in last year’s final that was a “touch” two? Meatball’s pretty good.

Q: Isn’t there a limit to how many open mailbag requests there can be?


Q: Will you beat Jared to the punch? —Brother Smee

A: This is the innerwebs. There are no limits. And yes, I expect to beat Jared to the punch.

Q: 3-piece Resilite is the only way to go, amirite? Yes.

Q: NCAA mats are available for $9,500. How many will you take? Zero.

Q: How long until Double D ends a sentence with a period? And does his posting style remind you of anyone well-known? FAKE NEWS! SAD!

Q: If pig bellies make bacon, what do cow bellies make? Tripe Soup

Q: What’s the difference between a Staff Writer and a Senior Writer, and does an Editor (of either variety) have to approve any content before a Writer posts? I dunno.

Q: Billy B’s best role in movies or TV?

—Brother Smee

Q: Which middleweight will be the ‘odd man out’ in future lineups?


A: I’m probably stupid, naive, or both. But “none” is my answer. With injuries, redshirts, and Oly-shirts, looks to me like they’ll all step on the mat wearing the blue singlet with white belt. Maybe not all 4 years - granted. But every one of ‘em will have a chance to win an individual national title, is my guess. (Also, Brooks and Beard are deferring 1 year, and won’t arrive until 2019-20, is my understanding, which helps smooth the picture).

Beyond that, Cael’s approach is about as egalitarian as it gets. Studs choose their own weights, and everyone else finds their spot. That saves a lot of tears, heartache, and cries of injustice, because nothing could be more fair.

Q: What is your earliest wrestling memory?

—Cousin Gerry

A: My old man teaching me a fireman’s carry (keep the arm, kids!), wrist control, and digging your chin into your opponent’s spine. Turns out there are a lot of nerves near a spinal cord. Good things to know when you’re 8 years old.

Q: What happened to Brandon Sorensen at NCAAs?

A: Some Iowa fans speculated nerves. Perhaps. I kinda think Brandon just wrestles a lot of close matches, and lost one. He lost 4-3 to CJ Cobb as a freshman in the 2nd round; won a 3-1 decision over Victor Lopez in the 2nd round as a soph; blew it “wide open” as a junior in the 2nd round, with a 6-2 decision over Andrew Crone; and lost, 3-1, to Perry as a senior in the 2nd round.

Q: Did Tom Ryan blow it?

A: This will surprise you, but I don’t think he did (which surprised me). Ohio State wrestled pretty close to their peak, in my opinion (though, my opinion of them is probably more critical than your average Buckeye fan’s opinion). Session 4, semifinal round, was a killer - starting off by losing 5 matches in a row (while PSU began the evening 8-for-8) - brother, that was mighty fine. But, none of those losses was an upset, in my opinion.

Q: Hall did not look to me like he’s beating Valencia again any time soon. Agree or disagree.

A: Marky had him on a duck in the 2nd (or 3rd) period, but Zahid tied up Mark’s right hand. I agree that it looked like a difficult match up Saturday night, but I’d never advise someone to bet against Mark Hall. Ever.

Q: Why did Coon wait so long to do anything?

A: Snyder’s pretty good. Looked to me like he fought hard to keep a right underhook on Coon, and if/when he started to lose a tie, he bailed quickly, and restarted. (And because he’s Captain America, he doesn’t get dinged for stalling). Also looked like that frustrated Coon, who made the mistake of shooting thru Snyder’s underhook late in the 3rd. And poof - that’s it. A 3x World Champ doesn’t miss on that gift.

Q: Is DeSanto actually insane?

A: Kinda reminds me of young Terry Brands. I don’t know that Terry ever tried a flying cartwheel or a jiu-jitsu kimura, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Q: Shouldn’t Spencer Lee have been OW? Can Iowa finish 2nd next year?

A: Yes, and yes.

Q: Penn State’s going to annihilate the field next year, aren’t they?

A: Annihilate might be a little strong. But I do think it’ll take 130+ to beat Dear Old State.

Q: Thoughts on PIAA-ref’s thoughts on Teasdale?

A: I didn’t catch any of Teasdale’s matches. The Flo boys peg him as the 3rd best 133-lb prospect ($$). Intermat lists Gavin as the #8 126-lb high schooler (which seems stupid low to me). If you believe those fellers, then Gavin’s not an instant NCAA title contender. And if that’s what your PIAA-ref meant, then alright, I guess. I also suspect that standards have changed in the last few years, with so many true freshmen making the podium, and not a few winning titles (two this year alone). But all of that said, he sure does get to legs a lot.

The other thing I’d point out - the very short list of PA 4-timers’ college careers frequently fails to match the PA fans’ expectations. And a lot of that is on the PA fans. College wrestling is really hard.

Q: If you were to compare PSU’s nationals performance to a battle performance, would it be the Confederates at 2nd Manassas?


A: Tom Ryan as John Pope? Forget everything else. We have a winner. (Though I also like the unfinished railroad cut as PSU’s 5 champs).

Q: Why, when getting closer to the bathroom, does the urge increase exponentially?


A: anticipation dot gif

Q: Given that opponents this season (and in the NCAA tournament) have developed a style of obfuscation to inhibit offensive wrestling, are we going to be seeing more of it in college wrestling next year given its success?

—Succss With Honor Always

Q: Is finals match Ronnie Perry what Bo Nickal had in mind, when Bo said some guys just don’t want to wrestle even though that’s what it takes to win? —ReadingRambler

A: For 99.28% of us, assuming you compete long enough, you’ll run into the freak, and it all makes sense. You’re fast, you’re strong, you’re full of confidence because you’re really good - maybe 96th percentile! - and then - poof - alien dude who is thee 100th percentile, way the heck out there on the right tail of the bell curve, humbles you. Suddenly, you’re really slow and weak, and this alien-dude is just kicking the crap out of you.

I remember rolling with this guy while in the military and as soon as I tied up I thought, “this isn’t good”. It was like clubbing a piece of steel. I could have broken a Louisville Slugger on this dude’s face, and I doubt he would’ve lost position.

Zain, Nolf, Bo, Cenzo, Hall, Zahid, Snyder, Spencer - they’re the aliens. And I don’t blame non-aliens for merely trying to survive. Yes, it continues. Yes, Ronnie Perry’s what Bo had in mind. No, refs will never call stalling. Yes, that stinks, because we all enjoy slaughters. We’re Americans. It’s natural.

Having said that - if you’re the alien, then it’s on you to go score points, regardless of normal dude’s defensive ties, and down blocking, and minimal forward pressure.

Q: What did “cured ham” have? Might have been salmonella, but not no more. It’s done been cured.

Q: Did Brands not being a part of the pre-tournament coaches panel have an impact on his team’s performance (i.e., lack of respeck)?


A: Maybe? Iowa wrestled very well, but not “over-their-heads”. They were a “latent” good team all year - latent, because they pulled a shirt late, battled injuries during dual season, and then turned in a crap Big Tens. A lot of folks wrote them off as a consequence. But other than Mikey Kemerer defaulting to 4th place, their 3-day performance looked “right” to me. Maybe disrespeck played a role. I kinda thought it was just “good-normal” from the Hawks.

Q: What are the major differences between freestyle and folkstyle?


A: The BSD Wrestling team covered this well already. Just want to add one more thing: like it or not, it’s the pinnacle. And if you like watching aliens, UWW has them. The dudes at Worlds make college look like slow motion. (And that’s why our collegiate aliens need to fight thru Jordan Ellingwood’s slow pace and defensive posture.) To wit:

Q: Nolf vs Retherford - who wins?


A: Flip a coin. The one thing I’m certain of is this - they’ve both “won” at least once. Because if either was getting shut out, they’d still be going at it.

Q: How long will Tom Ryan be on the seeding committee for the NCAA championships?


A: This was answered in the comments, but I’d like to point out one thing. The guys BSD doesn’t like - Tom Ryan, Brian Smith, Rob Koll, Troy Nickerson - all hold (or have held) elected positions within NWCA and/or seeding committee. The guys BSD does like - Cael, Tom Brands, and our PSAC brothers - do not hold (or have not recently held) elected positions within NWCA or seeding committee.

Unrelated advise: all politicians stink. All of ‘em - blue, red, black, yellow, and purple. None should ever be trusted, with anything, for any purpose, ever.

Dominus vobiscum.