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A Week of Wrestling, 2021 1210: Duals & Tourneys Picking Up Heat

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One fanboy’s thoughts on the wrestling week that was and the ones that will be.

Artwork courtesy of Penn State alumnus Ross Bendik, The Foundation for Wrestling Art & Innovation. You can follow Ross’ fun work on twitter @WrestleChicago.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.

Yesterday is History

RIP

Grover Bryant

Jason Bryant, one of wrestling’s most beloved podcasters, lost his father recently. While I am sorry for Jason’s loss, I’m also thankful he took the time to put down the microphone, pick up the keyboard, and write out this thoughtful and heartfelt tribute to his dad:

I’m someone who feels the need to remember those who have left us. I don’t particularly “like” the thought of attending funerals. In fact, I’m usually a wreck when attending one, even by people I barely knew. Sometimes out of respect or sometimes just out of the pain I see in others. Sometimes I’m overly empathetic.

I feel similarly to all of that, which is why I’m sharing Jason’s share.

Also because it’s a good read.

I learned a lot about Papa Bryant and found a number of similarities with my own deceased father, and am guessing any of our readers in the same boat might get a lot out of Jason’s piece like I did.

Condolances, Jason, and thanks for sharing.

Mark Reiland

Mark Reiland, Iowa National Champion and longtime coach of Iowa City West High School, passed away this week. Reiland was a 2x All-American who won his title for Dan Gable at 167 pounds in 1991.

A 2016 inductee to the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame, Reiland went on to become a successful coach:

After a successful 2-year coaching stint at Solon, Reiland went to Iowa City West where his teams consistently excel. During his years at West Reiland’s team have won two traditional state team titles, five dual meet titles while also placing second in the team race another five times. His dual meet teams also placed second at state three additional times.

During those 17 years Reiland coached 84 state place winners including 22 state champions and 13 runners-up.

CKLV Tourney

At the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Nebraska outlasted Ohio State 125 to 104 to take home the team title by placing more of its lineup (8 of 10) on the podium than the Buckeyes did (5 of 10).

via FloArena

The two teams tied for number of Champs (1) and 2nds (2), but Nebraska outlasted with their breadth (three 3rds, one 6th & one 8th), while Ohio State finished out their placers with one 3rd and one 4th.

via FloArena

As you can see there, Nebraska has really good breadth—top performers at nearly all of the ten weights. Excepting the two ACC bump-ups who were not at 174 last year (Va Tech’s 2019 National Champ Mekhi Lewis and NC State’s 3x AA Hayden HIdlay), Mikey Labriola might be the best wrestler in the country behind top dogs Carter Starocci and Michael Kemerer, neither of whom has he ever beaten.

Can he get over either of those humps this year? He should have plenty of opportunity, as Nebraska wrestles both Iowa & Penn State in duals, and he could see one or both at either the Big Ten Tourney or at Nationals.

Taylor Venz and Chad Red are always dangerous, Eric Schultz is a grinder who earned the 2-seed at 197 last year, and after Peyton Robb’s drop to 157, he has looked like a possible title contender. He lost an exciting 11-6 match to Princeton’s Quincy Monday (another 157 contender), before defaulting out of the tourney.

via FloArena

It was a struggle for Heinselman, for whom a podium placement at this tourney would have given more hope to Buckeye fans for his postseason performance, but it’s still way early. Kharchla proved he’ll be a force, by only dropping a tight 5-4 bout to returning National Champ Shane Griffith and finishing 3rd.

And Kaleb Romero and Gavin Hoffman each provided Tom Ryan with new data points, as he tries to decide the highest postseason return they might get at 184 and 197 between Romero, Rocky Jordan and Hoffman.

The Bucks still have touted Freshman Paddy Gallagher they could pull into the lineup at 157, along with Jordan Decatur, who initially won a wrestle-off with Dylan D’Emilio at 141, so it’ll be interesting to see what moves they make to remain or move up from a Top-10 team.

From an individual standpoint, it was great to see champions from such a diverse group of teams:

125: Patrick Glory, Princeton

133: Dylan Ragusin, Michigan

141: Clay Carlson, South Dakota State

149: Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell

157: Ryan Deakin, Northwestern

165: Evan Wick, Cal Poly

174: Mikey Labriola, Nebraska

184: Kaleb Romero, Ohio State

197: Stephen Buchanan, Wyoming

285: Gary Traub, Oregon State

As promised, the middleweights brought the most firepower. Check out these final brackets:

via FloArena
via FloArena
via FloArena

Hello again, Evan Wick!

The 2x All-American who placed 3rd in 2018 and 4th in 2019 for Wisconsin, before missing last year’s tourney, is now a graduate transfer at Cal Poly, where he wrestles with younger brother Luka. Offseason rumors indicated Evan was maybe looking to transfer to PSU but that academic bureaucracy maybe got in the way. Now back in his home state of California, where popular wrestling mom Milena doesn’t have to travel as far to watch him, Wick gave notice to the tough and deep 165-pound field that he intends to earn a title before he retires.

I’m a big fan of Flo Arena, an excellent, user-friendly piece of free software. If you fancy yourself a part- or full-time bracketologist, check it out for the rest of the CKLV brackets here.

Shannon Scovel, a PhD Student at Merrill College, has really bolstered the NCAA’s own wrestling coverage over the past year or so. She writes interesting long-ish reads on NCAA Wrestling’s home site, and did a great recap post on the tourney here:

Nebraska wasn’t the only team to have individual stars or show impressive depth, though, and here are the three biggest additional takeaways from this tournament as wrestling fans look ahead to the spring semester.

Intermat Editor, Earl Smith, who also writes entertaining longer reads, often full of research and interesting nuggets, wrote a cool post on breakout performances on Intermat Rokfin ($):

So, how do we define breakout? All of the wrestlers we’ve noted were either ranked lower than #25 or not mentioned at all prior to the tournament. While heavyweight champion “Gas Tank” Gary Traub fits that bill, he is generally a household name due to his exploits in the 2019-20 season for Ohio State. Only one of this bunch has previous NCAA experience (though he didn’t pick up a win there). This group of five is hoping to go against the old axiom “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” as they look to build off of their momentum during the rest of the season.

Lastly, be sure to check out the CKLV photo galleries from two of wrestling’s great photographers:

The Fyre Duals

2021 1207 NWCA Coaches Poll Top-10

There’s a big change in the Top-10 this week, as Michigan replaces Missouri at #3. How’d that happen?

Let’s look and see!

Va Tech vs Missouri

via TrackWrestling

I didn’t get to watch this one myself, so let’s check in with Intermat ACC Correspondent Robbie Wendell’s conference recap post:

The atmosphere in the Hearnes Center was impressive as the #3 Tigers and #10 Hokies took the mat. #12 Sam Latona took his second loss on the weekend against #18 Noah Surtin—the match started high paced and had a long scramble where Surtin was able to stop Latona’s movement in the worst possible position for the Hokie and pick up the fall. #4 Korbin Myers was more aggressive and dictated the match more against #27 Trey Crawford and won a lopsided decision 8-2. Colin Gerardi put up a great fight against #12 Allan Hart, controlling positions and showing incredible defense throughout. Hart was able to finish a takedown from a scramble in sudden victory to get the decision.

#7 Bryce Andonian met a similar style wrestler in #19 Josh Edmond; the Tiger was able to get an early lead on a couple crisp shots. Andonian turned the tide when he backrolled through a double leg into his own takedown and back points. He didn’t look back from there and put on an offensive display to win 10-4.

#24 Connor Brady picked up his first ranked win on the season beating #11 Jarrett Jacques 3-2 to tie the team score 9-9 at the halfway point. Clayton Ulrey fought for the team to save points against a highly ranked wrestler at 165. #3 Keegan O’Toole was held to his lowest team points of the year in taking the major decision over Ulrey.

#4 Mekhi Lewis took the early lead, then #10 Peyton Mocco was able to claw himself back into the match and force overtime. They were scoreless in the sudden victory period; in TB1 Lewis was able to get a reversal into back points to take a four-point lead before allowing the escape to win 9-6. Lewis moves to 8-0 on the year with two top-10 wins. #9 Hunter Bolen was able to control the pace and positioning in a top-10 match against #10 Jeremiah Kent to win a 6-3 decision. Dakota Howard again showed his heart and refusal to quit against #5 Rocky Elam at 197. Howard held Elam to his lowest point total on the year and was down 8-0 before rallying to get a last-second takedown to erase the bonus point for the Tigers.

As predicted, the dual came down to heavyweight, with the Tigers holding a 16-15 lead going into the final match. #14 Nathan Traxler was able to get in on several shots against #13 Zach Elam but wasn’t able to finish cleanly. They traded escapes in the second and third and went into sudden victory with the dual on the line. The pair got into a scramble and Traxler was able to hold Elam in danger to get the three-count and the takedown points for the win.

For his efforts, Traxler was awarded ACC Wrestler of the Week honors. I’m a text guy myself, but in the land of social media, Image is King. For most college wrestling team accounts, Instagram consistently draws many multiples more eyeballs than their Twitter does and, although I’ve been slow to learn this, college teams have not been; they’ve been hiring amazing graphics artists and successfully using their work to promote their programs.

As asserted here by our friend Jersey Hokie, Virginia Tech has a good one:

Here’s another recap, also including Va Tech’s win over UNI, from Jack Brizendine at Tech Sideline.

Iowa vs Iowa State

via Trackwrestling

9,272 fans packed into Hilton Coliseum last weekend to watch the Hawkeyes win their 17th straight dual win over the Cyclones and, suffice it to say, things got feisty.

Stalemates also built us an hour+ show, breaking down the shenanigans.

Dresser, you may remember, has a very bumpy history with the Brands brothers from his days coaching Virginia Tech. Back in 2016, I examined his fired shots during the fallout from that year’s National Duals scheduling fiasco.

For takery, I appreciated Cody Goodwin’s balanced approach in his Des Moines Register Mailbag (which also has references to James Clear’s Atomic Habits, which I love, along with a really thorough answer to a question about the high number of stall calls):

But this is what rivalries should look like — rowdy, fun, hostile, but not overly hostile. I could do without the post-dual extracurriculars, which were dumb. But the intensity and energy of the dual and everything else around it was spectacular. One dad brought his two young boys, and as they left, his kids were already asking about returning.

This inevitably leads to a conversation about sportsmanship, and setting examples for younger athletes and coaches and the like. I couldn’t hear what all the wrestlers and coaches were saying to each other from press row at Hilton Coliseum, but I doubt they would say those same things to Grandma during the holiday season.

Outside the post-dual shoving mess and Terry Brands running to the Iowa State bench after the heavyweight match, I didn’t think the energy boiled over on Sunday night. Both benches probably yelled cuss words. Both benches probably flipped each other off. I tend to give a little more leeway in a heated rivalry dual. Makes it fun.

I’ve still never been to the state of Iowa and as I read all that while strongly considering traveling out to the PSU-Iowa dual in Carver Hawkeye Arena at the end of January, it got me wondering what the in-arena experience might be.

For starters, a few key differences:

  • Head coaches: Cael Sanderson doesn’t have the Brands-Dresser-Virginia Tech baggage, although he did wrestle for and coach Iowa State, against Iowa many times.
  • Assistant Coaches: Casey Cunningham & Cody Sanderson never wrestled for the Brands brothers, like ISU Assistant Coaches Brent Metcalf and Derek St. John have.
  • Penn State & Iowa, while very strong rivals these days, don’t share the same amount of crossover fans, like the in-state battle between the Hawks & Clones showcases.
  • Penn State & Iowa have battled fairly evenly in Dual Meets since Sanderson elevated the Lions to powerhouse status; there’s no 16-year domination streak on the line.

Penn State of course has dominated at Nationals, winning 8 out the last 10 tourneys, but Iowa broke the streak last year and has its entire team back. Penn State’s younger squad hopes to challenge the Hawks in both the Dual Meet and at Nationals, so this does remain a very fierce rivalry.

But maybe those differences above will contribute to the arena vibe being less antics-y than the Cy-Hawk battle last weekend? I’m not sure, but I know I hope for an enjoyable visiting fan experience.

The Links

Bloodround Claunch writes about true student athlete: Michigan’s Drew Mattin.

Yeah, so my Dad is an ER Doctor in Toledo, so growing up in a Healthcare household, I’ve gotten to see the impact in the community that my Dad has made. Along with the life that I’ve lived. I’ve enjoyed it, so I try to focus on the goal of creating a life for myself. When you’re in school, you’re in school. A lot of people don’t look too far forward. You’re in your 20s, and obviously there is a lot more life to live. It’s been great to see the dream of going to medical school come to fruition, but just like College Wrestling, it’s a door that’s opening and then you’re looking towards the next thing. I’m not exactly sure what that is, other than becoming a Doctor, but it’s nice to have that weight off the shoulders and enter a new Chapter.

On challenging for a coveted spot in Michigan’s vaunted postseason lineup:

Yeah, obviously competing with Dylan Ragusin for a starting spot at 133. With Stevan coming back, we didn’t know if he was, so I wrestled 141 the last couple years. So making that trek back down to 133 has been difficult, but just getting down early for the weight and getting used to it is still a progression. I felt good at the tournament this weekend and catching Ramazon (Iowa State 133 pound wrestler) right off the scale, who was probably the next best kid in the bracket, so that was a good test for my conditioning and how well I managed my weight (*note, that was the first round match in the tournament). So that was a good confidence booster, and then just continuing to battle in the room with Dylan. I think we are both podium guys and we are going to push each other until one of us gets there.

Michigan adds to its 2022 tourney Death Star:

As hinted at last week, Michigan has convinced 7th-year Senior and 2x All-American, Logan Massa, to use one more year of eligibility to help the Wolverines chase their first-ever team title in Detroit.

This is so cool. Michigan’s Myles Amine, who wrestled 197 for them last year, before heading to Tokyo and winning a Bronze medal for San Marino, was honored by the country for the feat:

Wrestling & football continue to supplement each other. ESPN’s Dave Wilson digs into how wrestlers helped improve OkSt’s ferocious defense.

Both Rodriguez and Martin said their history as grapplers is a big reason for their defensive success. It’s all about angles, physics and technique. Rodriguez said he reads defenders’ hips like he would in wrestling.

“It definitely comes from that background,” he said. “It’s second nature, just getting people down. I don’t do the big tackles — I just go for the legs and the hips.”

BSD Wrestle Community

ForTheGlory shares a WIN Magazine rankings comparison.

After the entertaining and fan-successful duals against Penn & Lehigh last weekend, Gerry Dincher & TexasRef request an all-Pennsylvania D1 tourney held in Hershey:

Our old friend Ross Bartachek, from Iowa Wrestling, shared this take on a Spencer Lee and Darren Woodson (!) podcast:

Clarion has introduced a Pin Gong, and it’s freakin epic!

So far, the Golden Eagles seem to have managed to keep this from becoming something that shows up the opponent, and I haven’t read yet about any opponents who have pinned a Clarion wrestler and then tried to bang the gong, so I am a fan.

I especially love that the gonger gets thrown to the wrestler as he approaches, then he gong the gong, then continues on to his locker room cool down.

The Lawls

When I first tried & failed to start up this column in December of 2020, I introduced you to Ian Jagger, who I described as:

Jagger is a dude I met on twitter. He’s funny as hell.

Well, guess what? That sense of humor has helped Jagger spread his internet wings, as dude has shown up on podcasts, video interviews, and now with his prose, as Earl has brought him on to the Intermat team to do a weekly mailbag.

I love, love, love all the amazing modern content the wrestling community puts out here in the Age of Internet, in all its media forms. Audio hooked me first, as podcasts brought me tons of good stuff back when I was commuting.

Video is cool, whether giving me a talking head interview or, even better, when the creator possesses mad editing skills like Zach Bogle at Stalemates.

Photography still pics bring a deeper appreciation for wrestling positions and the difficulty of creating amazing images by our great wrestling photogs.

But the Written Word remains my favorite medium. I prefer the way it allows our own imagination to kick in, and the way that challenges an author to craft evocative tales. Voice & Video & Photography are super stimulating, but nothing gets me hotter than a clever turn of phase! (try that with a Shane Sparks voice).

And it’s especially rewarding when you learn that a funny guy on Twitter can still entertain when the task is a longer-form blog post, like Jagger can:

It’s been quite a first month in the college landscape and with two and a half more to go, I don’t expect things to slow down any time soon. I caught my first duals of the year with the Garden State Grapple and it felt like being home again with all the shouting, squeaking, chants of two, and stocky dudes of all kinds walking around chests out. It was like music to the cauliflower’ed ear.

Extra bonus: my man has solid takes!

We’ve also seen a lot of talk about the “ducking” situation and all I really have to say about that is get over it for now. It’s early. We’re all starved for the best action but be patient. You’ve got teams who haven’t competed in two years, guys who only competed for the bare minimum to qualify for March, guys with no knees, and rosters more loaded up than usual. The extra year changed everything about the system and the coaches are still trying to figure out what they’re working with. By March, we will have gotten all the top action our little heart’s desire. I promise you.

It’s must-read content every Friday. The above is from last week, so a bonus bonus if you will: a fresh JaggerBag could be available for you by the time I post this.
(edit: this week’s JaggerBag is set to drop 12/11/2021)

Tomorrow is a Mystery

Upcoming Duals

From our friends at WrestleStat

Bedlam: Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma, 12/12/2021

Pitt @ Ohio State, 12/12/2021

This dual features a very cool undercard dual of Women’s Wrestling between Olentangy Orange HS in Ohio and Gettysburg HS in Pennsylvania:

The girls high school event is being held to help celebrate the growth of girls and women’s wrestling across Ohio and raise the roof for the #SanctionOH effort. SanctionOH is a movement to grow opportunities for girls wrestling in Ohio through cooperation with local schools and The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA).

Upcoming Tourneys

From our friends at WrestleStat.

Cleveland State Open, 12/11/2021

UNI Open, 12/11/2021

Streaming Guide

Thanks as always to Intermat Earl, for sharing this helpful tool each week.

Today is a Gift

I’ve enjoyed a small bit of momentum with this column (4th week in a row!) and it got me thinking about why. It’s mostly because I’ve kept it fun for myself. I’ve accepted that it can be corny, as I’ve leaned into a Kung Fu Panda-inspired framework, and I’ve so far struggled through bouts of imposter syndrome by remembering so many others in the wrestling creator community who continue to inspire me with the courage they show in posting their own content.

I’ve squashed concerns about people not liking how I’m telling or sharing stories by adopting another common wrestling axiom and ‘surrendering the outcome’.

So when I came across this custom art from Artist Lainey Molnar, it really spoke to me.

I hope it does to you too.

That’s all for this week. I hope to see you back here next week!

As always, I invite feedback of all flavors. Please feel free to engage in the comments below or on twitter @JpPearson71. Also please consider bookmarking this link to BSDWrestle’s Home.