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A Week of Wrestling, 2021 1201: Winter is Coming

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

B1G News

The biggest story of the college wrestling week comes from the great state of Michigan, where 2019 National Champ and former Penn Stater, Nick Suriano, announced he would be competing for Michigan Wrestling in the upcoming 2021 National Tourney in Detroit. BSDWrestle’s bveo covered the news in this BSD Fanpost.

The news understandably has tickled our old friends Tommy & Kevin at Bloodround Wrestling:

Additionally, our boys sure hinted strongly at another impending development with the Michigan lineup: the return of 174-pounder Logan Massa:

So what might Michigan’s full death-star lineup look like in Detroit?

That is some formidable breadth! Just excellent coverage across all ten weights.

If all that is not enough, the Wolverines 184 and 197 pounders have begun rocking some very serious facial hair:

I know Detroit is Rock City, but can it handle this much Wolverine power?

Can Iowa? Can Penn State?

Can’t wait to get up there and find out!

Even if Michigan ends up being not quite top-heavy enough to unseat Iowa or PSU’s also-broad lineups of 2021 Champs & Finalists, we’re almost certain to break a couple of scoring records, as pointed out here by another old friend, Alex Steen:


Pro Football Hall of Famer and Arizona State Wrestling 1967 National Champion, Curley Culp passed away on Saturday, November 27, at the age of 75.


Oregon State was unable to make their scheduled trip to Carver Hawkeye Arena last weekend, so Army, who was already in the area to wrestle Iowa State, stepped in as a replacement. The Hawkeyes beat the Black Knights 36-7 and, similar to Penn State’s 32-7 win over Army, won 8 out of 10 bouts. The difference in the scores was the Hawks’ three pins, where the Lions had none.

Jaydin Eierman, Alex Marinelli and Anthony Cassioppi all earned falls over the same wrestlers that Brandon Meredith, Creighton Edsell and Greg Kerkvliet faced.

If you’re anything like me and are constantly entertained whenever Iowa Coach Tom Brands speaks, watch him here try to explain his assessment of his team’s improvement:

There really is no coach-speak quite like Tom Brands coach-speak.

That’s all we’re going to showcase on the light Thanksgiving weekend, but here’s a full list from our friends at WrestleStat.


Joe Wedra wrote an interesting profile at USA Wrestling on Tyler Woods, a Native-American Greco-Roman wrestler who grew up in the Alaskan hinterlands who now is chasing his dream of making the 2024 U.S. Olympic team:

“I started wrestling when I was seven in Shungnak, but I really didn’t think I could have a career for a long time until high school. There are no roads up there… so to compete and to travel when I was living in Shungnak, we would get on a little bush plane and fly around to the village next to us. We’d have a little tournament there and then we’d fly back. So even now at the national level, the only thing that has changed other than the level of wrestling is that the planes are bigger,” Woods said with a laugh. “I’ve been doing this since I was 7 years old.”


There’s a dude on twitter who posts frequent self-defense “technique” videos and gets roasted for them almost as frequently. Things came to a head this week with a video of him thwarting a gun shot to his own crotch, “cuz he blocked it” (dramatic look into the camera).

But as everyone knows, the best way to refute on the internet is to show counter-examples from more ... trustworthy sources. So wrestling twitter’s technique guru, Dan Sweeney of @DPSBreakdowns, stepped up in the name of public service and a few laughs:

To showcase a bit of Dan’s more serious work, here’s his breakdown of a Gable Steveson takedown in the Minnesota - OkSt dual a few weeks ago:

Dan’s a good guy to learn from, check him out.

Reminder that a recovering-from-injury Greg Kerkvliet was the only person to take Steveson down in the pandemic-shortened 2021 NCAA season.

Tomorrow is a Mystery


The Cliff Keen Las Vegas tourney is one of the three main in-season tourneys in the wacky, two-semester college wrestling season. The closest Penn State has ever gotten to attending it was in 2017 when they scheduled a trip to the Reno Tournament of Champions, a hybrid college and high school tourney, but ended up not being able to go because of snowy travel interruptions.

But it’s typically been an excellent early-season gauge of what might come from the national landscape, as the wrestling seasons grow more mature.

Brackets aren’t yet up, but the pre-seeds are out and Flo has posted them for free here. Video (live or on-demand), will require a subscription, but you can also follow results for free on FloArena here.

The middleweights are this year’s tourney strength. 149 has four of the Top-6, while 157 & 165 have at least four of the Top-10.

After this weekend’s duals, Penn State will next face Cornell, who is sending yet another version of their 2021 lineup to Vegas:

In the dual against Stanford a few weeks ago, 2021 3rd-placer, Vitali Arujao wrestled at 133, but he may be headed back down to 125.

Also missing from the Big Red’s Vegas lineup are 157-pounder Colton Yapoujian and heavyweight Lewis Fernandes, who WrestleStat now lists with the injury icon. We also still haven’t seen 197-pounder Ben Darmstadt, who placed 6th as a Freshman at 2018 Nationals.

It’s unlikely that this Cornell lineup can contend for the title with Top-10 powerhouses Nebraska & Ohio State fielding their fuller lineups, but it will be a banger of a tourney regardless. Action starts tomorrow.

If you already pay for, or would like to pay for, premium predictions, here are:

Upcoming Duals

Cari will have a proper preview + open thread for us tomorrow, but heads up to any of our UPenn Student readers: you get free tickets to the Penn State vs Penn dual at the Palestra!

On a Friday night!

Can’t wait to see what kind of crowd fills out those hallowed halls. Are any BSDWrestle members planning to attend? We’d love to showcase any photos you care to share.

Virginia Tech, who lost a tough, close dual at home to Ohio State at home a few weeks ago, is still sitting at #10 in the latest NCAA Coaches Poll rankings. They head to Columbia, Missouri for a tri-meet with Missouri & UNI this weekend, and a number of ranked matchups are on the docket:

We’ll dive into the lineups of all three of these teams next week, as we get ready to watch them all in the Journeymen Collegiate Duals event before the holidays.

Streaming Guide

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

Today is a Gift

Lessons From Legends

(Jack Black in Kung Fu Panda voice) Legend tells of a legendary wrestler, whose wrestling was the stuff of LEGENDS.

This week one of our great modern storytellers, Ryan Warner, celebrated the third birthday of his superb podcast, Wrestling Changed My Life.

To help Ryan celebrate, I’m going to use one of his excellent interviews in a new segment I’m experimenting with called Lessons From Legends.

On September 12 of this year, Ryan interviewed Penn State legend Ed Ruth, and it was legendary!

They talked about everything in Ruth’s long and winding combat career, from his beginnings in Pennsylvania clubs and at Pennsylvania States, in battles against Quentin Wright ...


Wow. But your sophomore and junior years of high school. I had read on like PA Power that you were undefeated both years going in and both years you had a showdown with Quentin Wrght in the semis. So let’s just talk through that a little bit. I mean, cuz obviously you guys were on a college team together and you both ended up being national champs. But man that’s just how deep the Pennsylvania tournament is. What do you remember about the semi final matchups?


I just remember looking at Quentin Wright, thinkin like man, this cat is long! Had these long gangly legs and long arms I was like it’s funny because every time I wrestled him, it’s like you don’t have anybody that’s gonna actually help you get ready for Quentin Wright. Nobody has those body dimensions or move or wrestle like him so every time I would go out there and wrestle I was like, know what? I’m just gonna leave it on the table and see what happens. But, but those are ... those are fun times for me honestly, because I can look in the paper and I will see my picture and they’ll be like, Oh, Ed Ruth going to States. And everybody was just kind of waiting for that matchup to happen. So that was kind of cool.

From his move to Blair and the coaching he received from Jeff Buxton ...


And did you live there?


Yeah, I was boarding there.


What is that experience like living like living with all these kids who are outside of the wrestling team. A lot of them are just from all over the world, right?


It’s crazy. It’s just like college just like ... there was a lot of Chinese kids there. There was a lot of Chinese kids. There were some Black, they were like you said, from all over the world. But it was just it was different because I never lived away from home. I never went ... to me this was like a forever sleepover. Like I never have to come home. I was like this is crazy. And they put us on a block schedule, which is like just like college type, college things. There wasn’t a uniform but there was a dress code so we had to wear ties or some type of collared shirt, khaki pants. So it was it was a big life changer for me. It was like: man, this is the real deal. I’m like at a school where they like ... Like we are in public school, then you go to private school and it’s a private boarding school is like a world of difference, man, world of difference. I wasn’t ready for it, but I just kind of adjusted.


How long did it take you?


Man. Like half the year at that school. Just because it was weird because like you know we have the block schedule. You go to school like when I was in public school, I already had my whole schedule my whole routine, everything was worked out. But when you go to ... when I was doing the block schedule was like okay, so I go to this class on Monday and Tuesday. I go to this one on only Tuesdays and Fridays and this just kind of threw me off. I was like now I’m always looking at my schedule.

Then Ryan asked about Buxton ...

And so what about the great Jeff Buxton? He’s been on the show, you know, he’s just one of the greatest coaches I think that we’ve had at the high school level maybe ever. Just an amazing guy. What about his philosophy really stuck with you as you went into college?

And he shared the video of Ed’s answer to Instagram:

I really enjoyed this part of their conversation, as Warner asked Ruth about his relative unfamiliarity with the great Ironman tournament, and Ruth flowed into dropping some wisdom bombs:


It’s funny some guys we have on here who were at your level, you know, super dominant. They knew everything about everybody. But then there’s guys like you were you were known to say I don’t know much about the guy I’m wrestling and even so much to say that like, you know, you weren’t even like super detailed on Cael’s background before he got to Penn State. And so like going into the Ironman, you weren’t like a guy who knew everybody in the bracket you just kind of showed up and went for it.


Just showed up and went for it.

That’s just a better way to attack anything in life. Like you’re just too bogged down by the details, and you just think too much and there’s just a whole bunch of noise and rabble that just kind of comes into your head and you’re paying attention to all the wrong things. So I’m like you know when I went out there I just focused on myself and just getting better and having fun.

As they unpacked the details of Ruth’s coming to Penn State (he was recruited to PSU by Troy Sunderland), they ran into a fun tale of Ed first learning that Cael Sanderson would become his new coach and what happened the first time he & Cael wrestled:

I love that Warner followed that up by asking: what kind of feel does he bring, when you’re wrestling Cael?


It’s weird because he’s a guy who keeps such good position that he wouldn’t just make a mistake. Just wrestling. It’s almost like a chess player. You know, as soon as you make one move on the chessboard and he’s like checkmate you’re like ‘what the hell?’ Nah I mean? Like that kind of thing. It was like every time I step my foot somewhere he’d ankle pick me or, you know, he’d find some way to throw me to my back and he wouldn’t even be tired after the whole thing. Usually I’m used to getting guys tired. And you know he would just roll, do his thing and then we’ll be done.

But then he added in some of the lore I think we here at BSD may have first learned about when Clay Steadman got on the mic with Jeff Byers for a dual broadcast back in 2014 some time?


But it wasn’t just him! It was my other coach named Casey. And Casey I was like, you know what, before the end of the year — because I wanted to start small ... I was like before the end of the year I’m a beat Casey, THEN then we’ll go after Cael. You know, I was looking at my coaches—I’m trying to get all these guys! And I’ll never forget it: Casey held me down for about a half hour straight because I remember looking at the clock, damn, I’m still on bottom. Look at the clock again, I’m still on bottom. Then he finally lets me up. And I was just like ... I’m just like defeated, and he just looked at me and he’s like: you could be a National Champ. And, man I thought it was the biggest load of BS. (laughs) ... A National Champ woulda got up!

There’s so much more gold in there! From Ruth’s modest goals to be ‘just an All-American’, to battles with David Taylor, Matt Brown & Morgan McIntosh. More tales about Coach Casey and his freakish strength. Ruth’s BJJ & MMA careers, his new coaching role at Illinois.

Go give it a listen, and follow my man Ryan Warner at @Ryan_N_Warner. I’ll try to showcase more of his dope interviews, like the excellent audio documentary he put together called The Smiths, about John Smith’s family.

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

As always, I invite feedback of all flavors. I think there might be a fair bit of space to re-convey, re-share some of the wealth of stellar wrestling content out there in free podcasts like this, so I’d love to read what you think. Please feel free to engage in the comments below or on twitter @JpPearson71. Also please consider bookmarking this link to BSDWrestle’s Home.